This is my short story of events unfolding towards the December 2016 elections.
We are in July 2016.
Episode 1: We have just gone through the April political tensions involving the UDP party while all eyes are on the outcome of Lawyer Darboe & Co. kangaroo trial with the Nigerian Mercenary Judges ready to hand down the political verdict of Dictator Yaya Jammeh. Gambia was going thru an emotional political revolution and we on the ground knew that the upcoming December elections would be a difference. The on the spot counting electoral law gave us hope and we believed we can win the December elections without doubt.
Episode 2: Convincing the Diaspora Gambians that it was possible to remove Jammeh through the polls was a herculean task and I remember I had only Malick Kah, James Bahoum and Seedy Cessay of freedom newspaper all of UK and Lawyer Assan Martin and Saihou Mballoh of the US as partners in canvassing the Gambian diaspora to accept participating in the upcoming December elections. It was a thought nut to crack, as Pa Ndery Mbai, Fatu Camara, Mama Linguerre Sarr, Ben Suwareh and Babou Jobe were all not convince that elections could remove Jammeh from office. The Diaspora UDP was split between boycott and participation camps.
Episode 3: Enter the GDC party and Mama Kandeh. The euphoria was high in the political field and hopes started to surface in favor of elections. Mix signals abound that something interesting was about to happen in the Gambia and suddenly the UDP militants will not have it that a new kid in block Mama Kandeh stole the election fever show. I immediately jumped on the GDC bandwagon to put more steam on the freedom train. Seedy Sanneh blog and Saihou Mballow threw their weight in thus changing the political dynamics and sparking the electoral propaganda machine in motion in favor of the GDC.
Episode 4: Hell no! Pa Samba Jow Coach of DUGA DC formerly of PDOIS will not have it, the NADD ghost was awaken and all old opposition political parties including the fire power of the newcomers Soft Lady Fatumata Tambajang and Iron Lady Dr. Isatou Touray threw their scarfs in the political unity ring. The mayonnaise catch up and the Coalition talks went into high gear. Good, said Fatu Jaw Manneh Nyancho and all other freedom fighters began to drive home the Coalition unity song now picked up by all previous hesitant Gambians and a new breed of social media warriors emerge like ants from the ground. Beautiful! I said to myself that’s it Jammeh is gone. Hurray! Jammeh ‘Jeppo” was happily and constantly ringing in my head. I told all my friends that Jammeh is history.
OJ Jallow and Halipha Sallah the experts on diaspora politics invaded the online media and steered the Coalition brainchild to a steady course assisted by Fatumata Tambajang and boom! The convention idea conceive by Lawyer Assan Martin was agreed upon. Money and heavy propaganda was promised if a flag bearer was selected. The above named people in episode 1 and I were now very happy that the Diaspora finally agreed to participate the December elections.
Enter Dr. Isatou Touray. Feminism stormed the mix and GDC’s Mama Kandeh relegated to the back seat of the political class because of its stand and conviction that we could win Jammeh singlehandedly. Alas! Mama Kandeh became the bad boy in the block and Dr. Isatou Touray became the independent ticket shining star wanting to relegate the old opposition leadership to the back seat for the Coalition process to move on. Hell no! The UDP and PDOIS will not have it and put their electoral political weight into play whiles brandishing the veto card if all were not on an equal footing for the convention selection process to take place. Bingo! The talks began and smart lady Fatumata Tambajang was selected the moderator and coordinator of the process. Behold! Mai Fatty and Henry Gomez had to put their foot down and over their dead bodies their 70 delegates each must count in the ballots or else? and Pouf! It was finally accepted for time was of essence not miss the Coalition train. So be it and damn those who thought their two parties were “telecenter” parties whiles the GDC that advocated for open primaries in a single constituency for the flag bearer selection was brushed under the carpet. Waw!
Episode 5: The debacle began with the GDC and the Independent Candidate who finally did not make it to the Convention Day at Kairaba Beach Hotel for various reasons whiles Eyes on Africa TV beamed the world and Hop! Within five hours Adama Barrow of the UDP candidate emerged the winner with over 230 votes against Amath Bah bagging second position with 75 votes and Halipha Sallah loosing his 5 voters came in third with 65 votes. How did it happen? Gush? Halipha Sallah made the best presentation that historic day. It was magic, the gods have spoken and there was no turning back. Loll!
We in GDC were still happy to retain the APRC cross carpeters and Bang! We won the Coalition in the December polls if one cares to divide the 227000 by 7 political parties and one Independent candidate each one of them will pull only a little over 28.000 votes against the GDC pulling 89.000 votes singlehandedly. Bravo GDC despite all accusations of being a sell out you deserve a pat on the back. Good luck next time.
Episode 6: The skeptics were worried that even if Yaya Jammeh lost the elections he will not leave power. He will stay put by force of arms. This was the hardest nut to crack in the brains of the Diaspora Gambians. Halifa Sallah played a key role in convincing Gambians that if Jammeh lost he has no choice but to hand over power to the winner. Bravo Halifa Sallah for the unflinching believe that it will happen and it has happen. What Halipha did not factor in was the foreign voters lined up by Yaya Jammeh to tilt the voting results to his favor and the buffoon was convinced that it was a foregone conclusion for him to remain in power even the devils did not vote for him. Hahahahaha! “Kekh kekh ma reeh”
Now enter the freedom fighters in the dark. Colonel Ebrima Chongan, Major Ben Suwarreh, Officer Bai Lowe and policeman Seedy Cessay of freedom newspaper had a plan and they were indeed the real heroes behind Jammeh’s fall. But we will leave this story for another day. Gambians will be happily surprised to know the role these people played in tilting the voting results to the opposition camp. I salute you brave and patriotic Gambians for ushering in the New Gambia. Respect.
Episode 7: Enter President Macky Sall of Senegal. Gambians shall ever be grateful for closing the Casamance border preventing Jammeh’s foreign loyalists from voting in our elections. Few Gambians were convince that President Macky Sall will play this vital part in making sure the insults Jammeh hailed on the four honorable presidents of Senegal are squarely and skillfully avenged to restore the Honor of the past three Senegalese presidents, Himself included. ‘Korr Marieme Faye takes no mess deh aha!” Jammeh was his own enemy and his utter arrogance towards the world was an omen to the Gambian struggle. Thank you so much President Macky Sall Gambians shall never forget.
Episode 8: The end movie sets in. Jammeh accepted defeat and reject the results. Bang! President Macky Sall will not have it over his dead body. The military power red card was brandish and HE Mankeur Ndiaye did not minced his words in making categorically clear that Jammeh will never confiscate the will of the Gambian people. That was the time I knew Jammeh would go whether he likes it or not. Hello!
Halipha Sallah’s prophecy was realized. Waaw! I became the happiest man on earth and I prayed and cried, Thank Allah to know President Macky Sall was a GOD sent savior to free an enslaved Gambian people that had noting to defend them themselves but our voting cards and our mouths. Our local military was a non-starter, they were no match to Jammeh’s loyal soldiers; they will never attack Jammeh for sure. All eyes and hopes turn on president Macky Sall. President Sall did not waste time in mobilizing the world community for the green light to strike and permission granted to the delight of all Gambians. ECOMIG was born and Jammeh became history on Saturday the 20th January 2017. What a long day! Gambians woke up on Sunday to welcome all her children on exile and the mass exodus that followed the military stand off when the never happen war was imminent making all heartbeats rise to the red line zone. Alhamdulillah! No bullet was fired, no blood was spilt, game over Jamus. It took only three fighters jets from the Nigerian Air force to make Jammeh panic, pack and leave destination Obiangland another land of slavery. Presidents Condeh and Adoul Aziz stole the show and saved their friend’s life. So be it good riddance. Gambians took back their country in grand style thanks to President Macky Sall, President Sirleaf, President Buhary and all ECOWAS presidents and specially President Marcel de Souza the no nonsense man that made Jammeh shivers and sweat in his brains hearing his menacing words. What a chicken?
Adios Yaya! Bye bye!
This piece is dedicated to my Late Elder Brother Deyda Hydara. Deyda was my senior at the Foyer French School in Banjul; he was five classes ahead of me. RIP Brother.
Good morning President Barrow.
Happy Independence Day Gambia.
Written by Pa Njie Girigara.