The Former Foreign Minister and Ambassador to Senegal, Sidi Sanneh has officially announced that he his endorsing United Democratic Party Presidential Candidate and party leader, Lawyer Ousainou Darboe for president in the next week elections.

In an endorsement statement made available to the Alkamba Times, Mr Sanneh, said: “I have been asked numerous times this week which presidential candidate I intend to endorse, but not vote for since the Diaspora voting was ruled out by the High Court , And has been implemented in this election cycle.  At least, that’s what we were told by the IEC. 

Mr Sanneh continued, “I did not think it was a smart idea to declare support for a candidate when the presidential candidates’ debate was going on, this to allowed me to listen to them elaborate on their respective plans for Gambia if elected.  Unfortunately, only Halifa Sallah and Essa Faal participated. Four of the six IEC approved presidential candidates failed to take part, depriving us the opportunity compare and contrast six visions for our country instead of two.”

Explaining his reason for endorsing UDP Leader, Mr. Sanneh added, “ Based on decades of national and international civil service experience, transforming those blueprints politicians wave at election rallies, first into policies, then programs and projects i.e. actualizing it into relatable, and life-altering policy outcomes that the intended beneficiaries can relate to, takes time and a doing.  It is at this point that rubber meets the road.  I, therefore, treat these promises as just that, promises.” 

“Whether these promises are feasible financially, economically, socially and environmentally they are compared to other competing projects and programs that have met the feasibility criteria.  In short, the decision matrix has so many moving parts, a readymade answer is not easily attainable which always frustrates political pundits and partisan political hacks.”

“I try to as much as humanly possible to refrain from taking political sides, especially early in the campaign season, when there is room for politicians to commit infractions and political blunders but also to improve in their campaign strategies as well as that could change the entire complexion of the campaign.  For example, In these past two weeks alone, the petroleum scandal of the Barrow government to Mama Kandeh playing footsie with Jammeh and his APRC.  These two events have changed the complexion of the campaign in how these two politicians are percieved from citizens concerned about rampant corruption and the victims of 22 years of Jammeh’s tyrannical rule.”

“I am forced by circumstance to proceed in endorsing a candidate by process of elimination because of Bakary Bunja Dabo’s decision to join forces with Ousainou Darboe and the UDP.  Had he elected to present himself as GFA’s presidential candidate, barring some catastrophic misfortune along the way, it would have been very easy for me to support his candidature without reservation. “

Why? “Because I know him, personally and professionally, better than just about any of the presidential candidates on this year’s ballot.  I have been his Deputy Permanent Secretary at Education where I co-chaired the working group that drafted the First 15-Year Education Policy 1988 – 2003 which he initiated and guided throughout the year-long exercise until it became law.  During the 15-year span, Gambia produced some of its best West Africa Examination Council’s results.”

The 15-Year Education Policy was preceded by the first National Conference on Education that brought together Gambian educationists and administrators who presented substantive papers in their field of expertise, the final product of which formed a valuable input into the final product that because the 15-Year Education Policy 1988 – 2003.  BB guided the policy formulation process, up to and including, seeing it through Parliament.”

“As VP, he endorsed recommendations to the World Bank to restructure The Gambia Cooperative Union, including but not limited to replacing the General Manager as part of the restructuring of the credit operations of the GCU, among very difficult personnel changes.”

“As Vice President, Education and also as Minister of Finance, he contributed ideas as well as guiding the processes through to when they became law.”

“I can hear him saying now, as he’s said on numerous occasions, “ liigaybe bolleh woonu”.  Put the official thing aside, he’d say, that is not what binds us.  What binds us are Jones Street and Police Lines, the residences then of Sanjally Bojang and CID Inspector Morro Sanneh respectively.”   

“If you add Alhagie Modou Jaiteh of S. Madi’s to the mix, you’ve come full circle.  Sanjally and my dad were extremely close.  BB was a member of the Sanjally Bojang household and later of the Alh. Modou Jaiteh of Bakau household when Pa Sanjall moved to establish the settlement called Kembujay in the Western Region, then Western Division.” 

“Mr. Jaiteh became my father-in-law several years later. I married his eldest daughter, whose is mother to my daughter who’s wife to the son of O. J. Jallow’s sister.  My friendship with OJ predates many of these events.  Gambia is a very small place indeed.  But however small, we must learn to walk and chew gum at the same time.  Being from a different political party should NOT be a crime or a sworn enemy of your opponent.”

“Back to the endorsement issue, I could have simply endorsed UDP as soon as BB decided to join forces with Ousainou but that would have limited the scope of my editorial liberties as an opinion writer or blogger – take your pick, some call me worse. It comes with the territory, they say in these parts. I would have preferred waiting until mid-week to pronounce my stance but here I am.”

“I am fully onboard with UDP and it’s 5-Point Plan. Ousainou is no stranger to me.  I have witness his transformation from a premier legal draftsman to the premier legal luminary he’s become.  He has offered pro bono services to the poor and destitute, as well as politicians and activists up and down the food chain accused of treason and lesser charges during the 1981 Kukoi Samba Sagnia led attempted coup.  I’m witnessed the selfless service he’s rendered to Gambians who would, otherwise, not afford the first class legal representation he brought to the courtroom.”

“I know because I was a member of the Second Review Committee of 1981 that processed the detainees held at the Bakau Fajara Barracks that referred them, with our recommendations to President Jawara through the Attorney General.   Those determined to have a case to answer were recommended to be tried.  The flimsy cases, which were numerous, we recommended immediate release.  Ousainou spent several years of his professional life defending many of these cases pro bono.”

“I sincerely believe that with Ousainou Darboe’s leadership, his upright and empathetic posture towards the poor and powerless, his love of country and revulsion against corruption can be the difference between success and failure in reversing the fortunes of a once proud Nation. His pre-occupation with the scourges of endemic corruption in our government has been echoed throughout the campaign.” 

“I am therefore, of the belief that if there’s anyone who can put the gloss back into the Improbable Nation, it would be the upright leadership that Ousainou Darboe can and will offer to the Gambian people regardless of ethnicity, region or religious affiliation.  I know.  Because I’ve watched him at work.”

“Now that the endorsement issue is out of the way and off the table, I’d like to focus the rest of the final week of the campaign before Election Day on issues that will swing the pendulum further in favor of The United Democratic Party/The Gambia For All Party,” Mr. Sanneh said. 

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Mr. Sainey M.K. Marenah is a Prominent Gambian journalist, founding editor The Alkamba Times and formerly head of communications at the Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) and Communications and PR Consultant for The Gambia Pilot Program, under Gamworks. Mr. Marenah served as the Social media Strategist and Editor at Gambia Radio and Television Services. He is also the Banjul Correspondent for Voice of America Radio. Sainey is a human rights and developmental journalist who has carved a strong niche particularly in new media environments in the Gambian media industry. Mr. Marenah began his career as a junior reporter with the Point Newspaper in the Gambia in 2008 and rose through the ranks to become Chief correspondent before moving to The Standard Newspaper also in Banjul as Editorial Assistant and head of News. He is a household name in the Gambia’s media industry having covered some of the most important stories in the former and current government. These include the high profile treason cases including the Trial of Former military chiefs in Banjul in 2009 to 2012. Following his arrest and imprisonment by the former regime of President, Yahya Jammeh in 2014, Marenah moved to Dakar Senegal where he continues to practice Journalism freelancing for various local and international Media organization’s including the BBC, Al-Jazeera, VOA, and ZDF TV in Germany among others. He is the co-Founder of the Banjul Based Media Center for Research and Development; an institution specialized in research and development undertakings. As a journalist and Communication Expert, focused on supporting the Gambia's transitional process, Mr Marenah continues to play a pivotal role in shaping a viable media and communications platform that engages necessary tools and action to increase civic participation and awareness of the needs of transitional governance to strengthen the current move towards democratization. Mr. Marenah has traveled extensively as a professional journalist in both Europe, Africa and United States and attended several local and international media trainings.

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