Dear Pa Nderry M’bai: Let me first of all thank you for the key role you are playing in keeping the discourse alive as jaw jaw is really better than war war. This is my take on your editorial on the electability of Honourable Sallah/PDOIS and based on your principle of “fair and balance”, I am sure that you will find space on the Freedom newspaper to publish my contribution.
During the screening part of my recruitment process into the Gambia Armed Forces in 1997, I was the only candidate who openly declared that the party of my affiliation was the PDOIS. This earned me the nickname PDOIS Cadet Officer for a while.
My opinion of Honourable Sallah in particular and the PDOIS party in general is that they are an embodiment of all the noble characteristics and qualities of good leadership. Patriotism, public service, honesty, humility, contentment, modesty, empathy and being in touch with the masses, clarity of message and purpose, selflessness, consistency, knowledge and eloquence are some of the qualities they possess and much more. As a result, I believe that Honourable Sallah/PDOIS are not only highly electable in any political office, but they would have been the front runners of our governance structure if and only if the Gambia had a vibrant/credible democratic system with an educated, well informed and highly independent populace.
Unfortunately however, Gambian politics is largely based on patronage or neopatrimonialism while the majority of our population is illiterate, uninformed and economical un-independent. Therefore, most Gambians do not vote based party manifestos/programmes or the leadership qualities of candidates. As a result of this peculiar reality of our situation, I would agree to some extent with Pa Nderry’s editorial with the caveat that as far as the Dec 2016 presidential elections of the Gambia is concerned, Honourable Sallah and the PDOIS stand little or no chance to wrestle power from Yahya Jammeh. This is not a result of any fault of the PDOIS or its impeccable leadership but mainly due to the unfavourable political, educational as well as the socio-economic situation of the Gambia.
In my view, the UDP is a highly formidable party that has great potentials to dislodge Jammeh. It is as a result of this strength and threat posed by the UDP against Jammeh that is why Darboe and his Executive are being unjustifiably detained. This scam trial is politically motivated and deliberately calculated to not only destroy the UDP party but to prevent an opposition alliance. In this regard, I do wholehearted condemn the blatant abuse/violations of the rights and freedoms of all the April 14/16 detainees and I hereby add my voice to those calling for and praying for their immediate and unconditional release.
I find it extremely baffling that while Jammeh is fully aware of (and extremely worried about) his vulnerability in the Dec polls, there are still a number of skeptics out there advocating for an election boycott. Can’t these people see that Jammeh’s high-handed reaction to the April peaceful demonstrators as well as his recent tribal rantings and bigotry are all a clearly manifestation of how scared he is of losing the elections?
I have said before and still maintain that no amount of pressure will force Jammeh to succumb to electoral reforms because that would automatically mark the end of his presidency. Therefore, Jammeh will not lift the age-limit clause in the 1997 Constitution. But in spite of the bad electoral laws combined with all the advantages of incumbency, I still firmly believe that it is absolutely possible to defeat Jammeh this year. All we need to do is to rise above our respective party affiliations to identify and rally behind one coalition flag-bearer and Jammeh will be defeated.
In conclusion, a fundamental question that arises from the editorial and this assessment of mine is that if Darboe cannot contest and Halifa stands little or no chance of victory against Jammeh, then who is Gambia’s Promised Messiah come Dec 2016? Will the UDP come up with a new formidable and deal making candidate who could win power from the ruling party just like the recent case of Patrice Talon in Benin or is it Honourable Kandeh who would do to Jammeh What Marky did to Wadda in Senegal?
Eid Mubarak to each and every one including my Jolla cousins most of whom were drinking BUNKAB/BUNKAYAB during daytime throughout the Ramadan!!!
Written By Lt. Col. Lamin Gano (Rtd)