Give us a break, Sidi Sanneh

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By Mam Kaderr Jah

There was a time I had very high regard for Mr Sidi Sanneh, former Jammeh minister and ambassador. I thought he was a model elder citizen whose sole interest was the development of his country The Gambia. But I have changed my mind. The reason is since the defeat and exile of the devil Yahya Jammeh, Sidi Sanneh has been anything but model. His writings have become too shallow, too petty, too personal, vindictive and at times he concocted and fabricated outright lies.

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During the run-up to the December 1st 2016 election, nobody knew where Sidi Sanneh stood. He kept flip-flopping with his support for Mamma Kandeh one day, Isatou Touray another day and Adama Barrow another day. During the political impasse when sobre people like Halifa Sallah and Adama Barrow were calling for reason and encouraging the taking of a rational course of action, Sidi Sanneh’s writings were full of sabre rattling and the pursuit of a zero-some game.

While good people were worried about the maintenance of the integrity of the Gambian state as imminent war loomed, he was busy pursuing his petty personal agenda. While people were looking for credible and serious news he was busy concocting the story that Yahya Jammeh who was refusing to leave The Gambia demanded that before he leaves, he must see the businessman Mr Amadou Samba who was then in Senegal. Everyone thought this was true and the local papers and even radios carried the news. For two days, it was the talk of the town. But as everyone knew now it was FAKE news.

While President Barrow was in Senegal preparing to return to The Gambia, Sidi Sanneh visited Dakar. On Sunday, January 29, 2017, Freedom Newspaper reporter Mr Sainey Darboe reported in a story captioned, Sidi Sanneh slams ‘job lobbying’ speculations:
“Former foreign minister and Gambian ambassador to Dakar, Sidi Sanneh, has adopted a strident tone in his criticism of the coalition government led by Adama Barrow.

Until recently, Sidi Sanneh had been one of the most ardent supporters of the coalition, despite initial expression of misgivings about the competence of the man who is now the president of the tiniest country in mainland Africa.
Sidi Sanneh recently spent some time in the Senegalese capital in the lead up to and aftermath of the fall of Jammeh regime. Since his return to his base in the United States, his writings on social media have been tinged with bitter disappointment .This has excited feverish speculation as to what might have gone awry during his visit that left him less enamored of the politicians behind whom he once threw his gargantuan political weight.
“It is going to be a challenge covering the Barrow administration. It is one misstep after another”, Sidi wrote on his Facebook page…

A close observer of The Gambia’s political scene, who declined to be named, speculated: “Sidi Sanneh was in Dakar to lobby for position in the new government, but he was unsuccessful. He was flip flopping at the outset and seemed to be supporting Mama Kandeh instead of Adama Barrow”.
Contacted on his phone to shed light on reports of his allegedly abortive attempt to land a plum job with the new government, a clearly exasperated Sidi Sanneh retorted:

“You cannot expect me to respond to you because you are accusing me. Instead of asking me you are accusing me and you call yourself a journalist. Do you know me? I am 70. I am retired, I don’t need a job”.
Mr Sanneh was informed that the report doesn’t necessarily reflect the view of the writer, hence the effort to get his side of the story. But he seemed determined to duck and dive the issue declaring he felt ‘insulted’.”
Later on, Mr Sidi Sanneh claimed he came to Dakar to visit his in-law not to lobby for a position in the new government. But we know his answer to Mr Sainey Darboe that he is 70 and did not need a job is false! How many people aged 70 and even older, work in government? Plenty! And since then has Sidi Sanneh not set up a company with another woman in The Gambia?

But in fact, it was later proved that Sidi asked Mr Amadou Samba for money so that he could travel to Dakar and “interview” him about the Panama Papers and that was how he came to Senegal at that time. Not purposefully to visit some sick in-law! And if we are to believe the chatter on social media, that is not the only money he received from Mr Samba in Dakar. In fact, Sidi Sanneh despite his claim of being Mr Clean and Mr Righteous, did not volunteer the information of Mr Samba paying for his airfare. This was revealed in Mr Ebrima Sankareh’s newspaper The Gambia Echo by Mr Samba himself!

Really, I wonder, if Sidi Sanneh just wanted to interview Mr Samba, why could he not just pick up the telephone and call him instead of demanding money to come to Dakar to interview him?
The revelation that he took money from Amadou Samba was made after perhaps the biggest and most dangerous “breaking news” lie ever made by Mr Sidi Sanneh. He categorically and emphatically broke the news that the devil former First Lady Zineb Souma Jammeh sneaked to Dakar and held a meeting with Mr Amadou Samba and a businessman and former minister in Abdoulaye Wade’s government Mr Samuel Sarr. Sidi Sanneh said he was 100% correct and even named the restaurant the meeting purportedly took place. He went on to criticise the Senegalese authorities for the serious security lapse blah blah blah!

TV stations, radios, newspapers, online news outlets and all kinds of media in Senegal and The Gambia including your newspaper The Standard reported Sidi Sanneh’s “breaking news” as the gospel fact. For almost a week, all serious discussion about how to take our New Gambia forward was muted and all the talk was about Zineb meeting Mr Samba and Mr Sarr in a Dakar restaurant!
By now, journalists must have realised the lack of credibility of Sidi Sanneh, so they checked with the Senegal government, The Gambia government and with Mr Samba and Mr Sarr and it was found out that it was a BIG LIE! Again! In fact, Zineb Souma was not only not in Dakar, she had not stepped foot there for at least two years! All the news outlets reported that Sidi Sanneh was lying. But he shamelessly continued to claim he was speaking the truth and Mr Samba, Mr Sarr and the people who spoke on behalf of the two governments were instead lying or on a massive cover-up. He insulted all Gambian journalists and called them “pathetic” and said they were “bought”.

Gambians took to the social media and demanded him to provide proof! But characteristically, Sidi Sanneh was upset that anyone would doubt him. He and his friends said they would provide incontrovertible proof and that all his doubters would be shamed! But days, weeks, months came and passed and to this day we have not seen one single evidence or proof from Mr Sidi Sanneh! And this man has not seen fit to offer one apology to Mr Samba, Mr Sarr, Zineb Souma, the Gambian and Senegalese governments or even to the thousands of Gambians like myself who follow his writings and believe he is a gentleman.

The reason why I was so exercised to spend my Friday evening in my study to write this article is because I am worried about Sidi Sanneh’s obsession with one man: Amadou Samba. Why? Did Sanneh believe Mr Samba got him fired from his cozy job as Yahya Jammeh’s minister and later high commissioner? Is Sidi Sanneh being used as a proxy to attack Mr Samba by his enemies as we have seen he is being used somewhere else? I am at a loss because day in day out Sidi Sanneh would be digging up old articles he wrote on Mr Samba, his associates and dealings over the years with the sole aim of trying to pressure the members of the Janneh Commission of Enquiry to summon Mr Samba.

This is petty and condescending. It is as if the honourable Commission members do not know what they are doing and that they have to be pulled by the leash to do whatever they should do. These gentlemen and women are not puppets and it is unbecoming for Sidi Sanneh to try to put pressure on them in the execution of their job. If they desire to call Mr Samba, I’m sure they will do so and they do not need Sidi Sanneh’s constant bombardment on the social media. Mr Sidi Sanneh, this New Gambia is not about petty personal score settling and lying. It’s about honesty, justice, reconciliation, inclusion and progress. Take a chill pill, old man.

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