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City of Banjul
Tuesday, May 24, 2022

The December 2021 presidential candidates:

The December 2021 presidential candidates:

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We finally have the candidates officially vetted and found eligible by the Independent Electoral Commission to contest for the Gambian residency in four weeks: incumbent President Adama Barrow, Mr. Ousainu Darboe, Mr. Halifa Sallah, Mr. Mamma Kandeh, Mr. Essa Faal, and Mr. Abdoulie Jammeh.

As a veteran of the long struggle against our dejected blood-thirsty dictator, it became second nature for me to do due diligence on all our key political figures. Consequently, I know a little more than the average Gambian about each of our candidates.

The first four: Mr. Adama Barrow, Mr. Ousainu Darboe, Mr. Halifa Sallah, and Mr. Mamma Kandeh are all familiar names from prior polls. Only Essa Faal and Abdoulie Jammeh are new on our national stage.

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Thankfully, I’ve known both of the newcomers from my high school days. In December 1984, myself, Mai Fatty of GMC, new candidate Abdoulie Jammeh, Fakaba Nyanchado, and Yusupha Lowe were elected to the Executive Committee of a little-known student activist group we elaborately called “NUGS” -National Union of Gambian Students. NUGS was the brainchild and at the time still chaperoned by Jawru Krubally who, as a member of the left-leaning shadowy student activist world, had attended a global student conference in Sophia, Bulgaria two years earlier.

Essa was my mate in the Sixth Form at Saints, though we were in different batches and tracks. He was an Arts student, and I was in Business. But he was particularly close to two of my Business School course mates – Mam Lai Jasseh and Mbye Jobe.

Given what I know about ALL the six candidates, I endorse and had I been given the opportunity, would vote for Mr. Ousainu Darboe of the UDP.

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Mr. Darboe is not my ideal choice for a few reasons. First, I know it would take a hard nose, no-nonsense John Magufuli type to whip Gambians quickly into order. We are a very corrupt and indiscipline people. Mr. Darboe does not have that personality. He’s a Jawara-like accommodationist by both character and temperament. Second, he makes many avoidable “unforced” errors partly because he’s really not a very good judge of character. The list of questionable characters he has naively embraced frontally over the years only to later regret doing so is a matter of public record. Thankfully, he has no shortage of aides and associates who tell him the unfiltered truth and put him in check.

Yet, despite these two flaws that bother me about Mr. Darboe, he’s better than his competitors in my judgment. Here are the VERIFIABLE reasons why I believe Mr. Darboe will make a better president than the five others:

1. In the very beginning, we had a cause to throw an oppressive and brutal tyrant off our back. For 22 years, Mr. Darboe unflinchingly stayed the course of that cause. He was there when it mattered!

2. Mr. Darboe need not go into politics to be relevant or successful. He was already a very successful and wealthy man by Gambian standards. This contradicts the false narrative his enemies spew about what he stands to gain from politics or the presidency.

3. Except for actually dying for us, Mr. Darboe has done everything humanly possible to prove his willingness to sacrifice it all for us. If what he did was easy, many of us, our parents, and or elders would have done so.

4. Mr. Darboe has the education, professional experience, and executive experience to be our president.

5. Mr. Darboe has demonstrated a rare type of selflessness and philanthropy in over forty years in our national life. Cashing the personal IOU coupons he holds alone could net him thousands of votes.

6. Compared to 99% of us western-educated Gambians, Mr. Darboe’s personal integrity is beyond question – almost angelic. We the educated, generally RUN towards money readily sacrificing our values, spouses, daughters, and honor in the process. Mr. Darboe in contrast, walked AWAY from making MILLIONS in over two decades just to do the right thing. Unlike many of us, he refused to sell his soul for money.

7. In over 40 years of legal practice, Mr. Darboe does not have a single accusation of cheating a client or engaging in some impropriety lobbed at him. No crook can be that lucky or smart. If Darboe is a crook, we would have heard something.

8. Mr. Darboe is very even keeled temperamentally. And unflappability is a valuable asset for a leader.

9. Mr. Darboe has severally demonstrated remarkable humility in his dealings with colleagues and underlings in his party. NEVER has he publicly demeaned or humiliated an associate in words or writing even when attacked or provoked.

10. Mr. Darboe has shown a willingness to admit his personal mistakes and to take responsibility for those made under his watch.

11. Mr. Darboe has shown himself to be someone in control of his ego. Severally, we’ve seen him defer to others on issues he holds contrarian views or has no expertise in.

12. Mr. Darboe needs no introduction to the tough life of the average Gambian because even at the height of his professional success, he never lost touch with his humble rural roots.

13. Mr. Darboe remains very grounded likely because of the strong bond he still shares with his largely poor base.

14. Mr. Darboe has grown remarkably. The Lawyer Darboe I used to see with friends in my high school days in the 80s is very different from the politician I watch today.

15. Mr. Darboe knows what injustice and abuse of power looks like firsthand because he was a victim of such. We can believe that he’ll address this issue.

16. More than any of the candidates, the corrupt elite hate him probably because they can’t control him. Being hated by the morally bankrupt is a very good sign in a leader.

17. More than the rest, Yahya Jakut’s terror network rightly see Darboe as the one who won’t spare them for political expedience.

18. Mr. Darboe leads the most diverse, member-funded, Gambian party with the largest brain trust.

19. Mr. Darboe leads the ONLY Gambian party with a long history of public critiquing of and disagreement with party leadership.

20. Unlike the rest, he was not the founder of his party, but a selected leader. If he ever oversteps his bounds, he’ll be called to order.

I’ll post a video version of this endorsement in the next few weeks. I’ll also address some of the ridiculous charges I see some people post online regarding Mr. Darboe’s “tribalism”, tax evasion, and similar nonsense.

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