For 22 long, exasperating years, die-hard supporters of former President Yahya Jammeh had done everything to shield and sanctify him in the eyes of their fellow citizens. The top-notch sycophancy displayed by these folks was unlike anything seen or heard in our country’s history. Jammeh was emboldened in his evil reign not only by their praise-singing but also by their direct participation in harming us. Prominent among them are our fellow Gambians who refused to part company with the despot in the face of available evidence of his atrocious crimes, those who were sacked by the dictator but begged their way back in to his cabal and those who defied their conscience by cross-carpeting to Jammeh’s inner circle just to benefit from his loot.
However, we have among us decent Gambians who, despite knowing the instant gratification and rewards associated with supporting the tyrant chose to stay clear of him before launching audacious battle against the paranoid coward. This also includes individuals who benefited from him out of ignorance but washed their hands off of Jammeh immediately they became aware of his repulsive acts.
Brother Ahmad Gitteh did not only reject Jammeh, he went on to become one of the most ardent members in the struggle that helped to dismantle dictatorship in the Gambia. Being away in Canada and having secured his asylum (far from Jammeh’s reach), Gitteh could have chosen to live a quiet life in that beautiful country. Knowing the fight to free Gambians from the bondage of tyranny was bigger than himself, Ahmad Gitteh took on Jammeh and together with the gallantry efforts of many fearless sons and daughters of our dear motherland, the chain of subjugation was broken, dictatorship banished, democracy restored and victory achieved. In doing so, he inspired a generation of young Gambians both home and abroad and earned the respect and admiration of a grateful nation. Theirs was a fight for our country and they gave it their best. That’s why we celebrate their bravery and honor their sacrifice today and every day.
Folks drawing moral equivalence between people who have participated in the wholesale pillaging of our country’s resources and Gitteh’s well-deserved scholarship package should reach deep into their conscience and set aside their grievances towards the young man to see the truth. Gambia does not lose anything spent on Ahmad Gitteh. He was a beneficiary of a public funded education package as one of the smartest students of his time.
At tax-payers’ expense, our security forces were trained, fed, clothed, armed and housed only to contribute to the worst security nightmare our country faced for 22 years. We paid ministers and other civil servants top-grade salaries and allowances only to use their positions to help entrenched dictatorship. Some benefited from tax-payers funded scholarships only to use their acquired education and skills to provide technical and administrative guidance to Jammeh in his drive to cage their fellow citizens. Unlike them, Gitteh played pivotal role in ending our collective misery.
Interestingly, those leading the repugnantly vociferous charges against Ahmad Gitteh are the APRC remnants and their allied GDC members. These are people who have seen no merit in investigating Yahya Jammeh in the first place. They are never concerned nor repulsed by Jammeh’s 22 year reign of terror against Gambians including his large scale corruption. While I am not surprised by their continuing glorification of the exiled divisive former President or support of his policies, I am disgusted by their brazen willingness to go to any length in order to bring down anyone who stood up against Jammeh. It would amount to bold-faced effrontery for Jammeh supporters and some GDC members to spin this Commission’s finding in any way to mean their opposition to corruption. They are on record to have either resisted every legitimate attempt to take the dictator down or blatantly refused to be part of the popular coalition movement to end Jammeh’s iron-fist rule once and for all. Their whole noise is about settling political/ideological scores with Gitteh. Period.
The outcome of Gitteh’s opposition to Jammeh exemplifies the validation of purpose, the invigoration of fighting for something greater self and the certainty that he is on the right side of history. This is a feeling we can all share and no amount of political gimmick by GDC and APRC should take that away.
Zakaria Kemo Konteh