By Matida Jallow
Perhaps there is no political development that has recently shocked the entire nation than the announcement of APRC-NPP alliance by both APRC and NPP. While such announcement came to the surprise of many Gambians, who unconditionally rallied behind President to dispose Yahya Jammeh in 2016 , many political pundits have predicted such a unceremonious union between NPP and APRC through a close survey of NPP’s subtle and cautious recollection of the past criminal records of Jammeh’s and their passive support to TRRC and Janneh Commission on the one hand, and the equal selective approach of the national executive members of APRC in criticizing Barrow government’s handling of Jammeh’s properties, Barrow’s imprisonment of sons and daughters of Foni and the widely condemned deployment of Senegalese troops to Foni by Barrow, and the subsequent abuses of residents of Foni by these troops.
Despite this, the legitimate question that looms in the horizon is what might have necessitated this unpredictable alliance between two political groups who barely stood together in a common ground , at least before 2018. Undoubtedly, President Barrow’s unlimited thirst for power and his resolution to be reelected in the coming elections ignited his political greediness to compromise basic values and principles of leadership, as dictated by modern political theories and practices, to align his political interests with that of APRC, which eventuated in the said alliance. Although Barrow’s NPP has already found itself in a natural alliance with four other parties, whose leaders are reaping the fruits of his failed leadership, his determination to remain insensitive to the feelings of Jammeh’s victims and to form an alliance with APRC was further consolidated by the increasing popularity of the United Democratic Party, who, despite the existing alliance, remains favored by popular predictions of the upcoming election, something widely considered within NPP as an existential threat to Barrow’s political ambition.
On the other hand, the national executive members of APRC opted to the alliance despite themselves, and in spite of their pronounced acknowledgment of Barrow’s lack of the necessary expertise, knowledge and moral competency as well as the unpreparedness of his team to fill the leadership gap of Barrow in order to rule the country. While different personal and collective interests might have motivated individual members of APRC national executives to easily normalize their alliance with NPP despite its unpopularity among APRC supporters, one unshakable factor that quickly pushed both NPP and APRC to discount their divergent views is their unexplainable fear of the United Democratic Party. This factor is not only deepening their common source of threat, but it is also permitting them to falsely frame their alliance as nationally-sought reconciliation, which is unpopular to UDP, as they claim.
While this position of both NPP and APRC toward UDP is justifiable on the political ground, even though it remains immoral on different grounds, the irony is that APRC’s unexplainable fear of UDP is equally held by some individual political parties and their supporters, some political activists, and certain media platforms. Thought their reasons for developing such inimical attitudes towards UDP remain blurred to be quantifiably present, the approving and sometimes inconsistent stands of these people to Barrow’s government, despite the evidences of Barrow government’s underperformance in almost all sectors, on the one hand, and their steady antagonistic position to UDP on the other hand, presents a convincing suggestion that they, like APRC, prefer the re-election of Barrow over the UDP government, despite UDP’s appropriation of a strategic vision to transform through the application of knowledge and expertise.
Thus, despite the continued public outrage and increasing public discontent with the pressing issues in the country, which include, but not limited to, the recent NPP-APRC alliance, the politicization of meet the farmers tour, the apparent deterioration of service delivery in security, education and health sectors, the unsteady electricity and water supplies, the high rate of crimes, the rising social injustice and equality among the citizens, the stagnation of the economic growth and the accompanied inflation of prices of basic commodities, the unproductive civil service, the growth of mediocrity, the unaccounted sales of tourism development areas, and Barrow’s subscriptions to tribal politics, despite criticality of these issues, they are rarely featured in the public comments of these individuals activists, individual political parties and their supporters, and certain media platforms. In approaching these issues they either adopt an apologetic approach or justify the presence of such issues as natural to the Gambia, in an attempt not only to pacify public anger against Barrow’s government, but also to imply that similar issues would inevitably happen, or already happened when a particular party was, or will be, in the position of power.
Such unpatriotic stand in addressing national issues to the satisfaction of one’s predispositional belief about issues, people and parties, only forces one to bend on the conviction that such commendatory position to Barrow’s government, and the unnecessary adverse position towards UDP emanated either out of tribalism hence the party is over-presented in discourses as a Mandinka party, or out of sense of diminishing chance of appointment in the event of UDP’s victory, or out of sense of entitlements to statue which is quickly fading in the eyes of the people as they become aware about the reality of certain parties or individuals, or out of sense of superiority over the supporters of UDP who are labeled as less educated and conscious, or out of envious look to the party as it continues to be accepted widely across the country and against the expectations of many critics.
Unless, these individual parties, activists, and media platforms reveal their honest opposition to UDP, or to alternatively accept the reality of the party’s unprecedented growth ahead of the election, their ambivalent and indifferent positions to Barrow’s continued mismanagement of the country, and unmatched hatred to UDP and amplification of the gravity of issues which involve UDP, will only increase the unpopularity of these parties, individual activists and media platforms in both the Gambia and diaspora, as they will be justifiably labeled as hypocrites, unauthentic and dishonest and unpatriotic activists, parties and journalists.