By: Ebrima Jaw Manneh, Former Editor-In- Chief, Daily Observer
Tomorrow, Gambians have a sacred opportunity to finally end the era of a captive state, just a little over five years after the same citizens banished the Jammeh dictatorship. Today, the Gambian state is not under the captivity of an occupying foreign army nor is it under colonial control, but the state of misgovernance and maladministration of Gambian affairs under the shuttering eyes of a profoundly unfit and unenlightened president fits that descriptive profile. After about two years into his presidency, I became convinced that the current occupant of the most important office of the republic is far out of touch with the challenges confronting the nation, despite the enormity of goodwill that saddled his administration. President Barrow’s aloofness and inattention to the pressing needs of the Gambian people is the centrality of this election eve reflection.
Adama Barrow has proven himself a transactional president who is into this job of the presidency to self-enrich at the cost of Gambian lives and livelihoods. He has shown to be thoroughly conflicted in so many reported shady dealings that should later come under public scrutiny for potential economic crime. While at it, the quality of life has deteriorated significantly for the average Gambian. The cost of living has since gone up and opportunities have dried up for the Gambian youth. All forms of corruption within the government have since been normalized. He has no problem encircling himself with men and women of blemished character, consisting of weapons traffickers, economic gangsters, cocaine barons, money launderers, among other miscreants.
Barrow has betrayed his oath of office, over and over again. He has not been faithful to the constitution and laws of The Gambia. He has actively invested considerable time and resources to perpetuate his rule beyond the current term, at all costs. He did so in a fashion that is not just unpresidential but also threatens the very fabrics of our society along the moorings of social cohesion and tolerance and acceptance. These elements are the bedrocks of enduring ethnic relations since the nation’s founding. Remember his rounds of separate meetings with different ethnic groups at the State House… The audacity of the man, his braggadocio, and false pretense that played out in the open still stinks! Rightfully so, this is another major stain on his knavish legacy that even a number of respected veteran Gambian politicians that once stood against Jammeh’s tyranny are now comfortable trafficking in at NPP campaign rallies. Many summed it up as an act of desperation. But I worry much about the mortal damage these senior citizens are inflicting on mother Gambia. While this circus of small-mindedness breaks into the full display at political meetings, our hospitals and clinics around the country are starved of critical investment and medical supplies to care for the sick, particularly pregnant women, children, and the elderly.
Barrow has also demonstrated a willingness to relegate the cause of justice for political expediency. In his unbridled self-serving escapade, he wimpishly engaged in obsequious conduct in his attempt to enlist endorsement from the country’s biggest human rights violator since post-Independence. Imagine what drives a man to remorselessly turn to his oppressor for political salvation? What cuts even deeper, is the blatant contempt he has shown for the plight of the victims of the brutal oppression. That single act alone removes all doubts about the soullessness of the presidential figure that the man embodies. No shame, no honor, no character, no principle. He cares less about the people whose pain and suffering awoke the Gambians to the urgency of change that the country was yearning for. For him, anything goes so long it serves his interest. The interest of the Gambian people is a pawn in his game plan.
Tomorrow, the test of the citizenry will circle back to the Gambian voters. Ask yourselves if this is The Gambia that was promised when victory was delivered in 2016. Not a single piece of the coalition reform agenda has been implemented by the current government. Another five years of this spectacular failure of leadership and misgovernance will be disastrous for the country, especially the poor and the unconnected.
After studying the crop of candidates in this election cycle, I see a number of candidates whose vision and programs for the country resonate with me. But one has to be realistic with the choices to avoid a return of the current occupant to power. I understand that it is within the remits of the law that every eligible Gambian exercises franchise in voting a candidate of choice, I am endorsing UDP candidate ANM Ousainou Darboe for the presidency. Mr. Darboe’s sacrifice and selflessness for public service are a well-documented feat. His vision will lay a foundation for the rebuilding of the country, its institutions, governance architecture, rule of law, and justice for all.