By Muhammed W Touray
When Alagie Kijera, The Netherlands-based former president of Barrow Fans Club rejected the NPP-APRC alliance on moral grounds and left NPP in protest, he was subjected to nasty character assassinations by some NPP militants. Apparently, not everyone within President Barrow’s camp support NPP’s alliance with APRC but are afraid to speak for fear of reprisals.
The maltreatment of Alagie Kijera for openly expressing his rejection of the unholy NPP-APRC alliance made many supporters of President Adama Barrow silent and fly along as the promoters of the NPP-APRC alliance dominated the agenda. Their monopolisation of the agenda denied President Barrow the opportunity to hear divergent views within his followership.
Many within the NPP/PPP/GPDP/NCP/NRP/ like the Dr Isatou Touray camp are pretending that they welcome their former APRC tormentors inside the Adama Barrow bus but within them they are silently burning with fear, distrust and intimidation.
The fact stands that President Barrow has been deceived into an unreliable alliance with the yirifa soto APRC party.
The reality is that President Barrow can win the December 4th 2021presidential elections without wasting resources on APRC or any other alliance. The failure of his trusted advisers and delegates to harness the advantages of incumbency, read public mood and effectively promote President Barrow’s achievements and personality, resulted in the current embarrassments.
In one of his public speeches President Barrow was misled into believing that the whole country was happy about the NPP-APRC alliance. However, the UTG CepRass pre-election survey proved this to be wrong. APRC as is party is struggling within an insignificant 3 percent in the public favour. If at all the NPP-APRC alliance was welcomed by prospective voters, the huge number of undecided voters, 40 percent, would have moved to APRC or NPP.
Additionally, the Fabakary Tombong Jatta-led faction of APRC has no power or capacity to bring 200,000 voters to President Barrow. They cannot force their followers to vote for NPP. As President Barrow once hinted: political party leaders and executives might own their parties but they don’t own their party members and their votes. Individually, the few respective APRC executive can vote for whoever they want but they should not fool President Barrow that they can make the majority of APRC vote for Barrow.
Yahya Jammeh’s rejection of the NPP-APRC alliance is a good news and coded wake-up message for President Barrow in the following ways:
1. President Barrow should not make concessions to the APRC on the return of Jammeh and the Fabakary Tombong Jatta led APRC executive or their new splinter rivals cannot blackmail Barrow into giving them more ministerial, ambassadorial and other top positions they are dreaming of in the next government after 4th December 2021. APRC’s decision to be bought by Barrow is about positions and privileges for the hungry APRC leaderships but not national reconciliation.
2. President Barrow is under no legal and moral obligation to honour any agreement with APRC as it is an unreliable party. Since 2017, APRC has been using Yahya Jammeh’s name as pawn and bargaining chip to blackmail President Barrow and his “advisers” into an alliance submission. Even when the residential requirements limit Yahya Jammeh’s participation in domestic politics from his asylum in Equatorial Guinea, Fabakary Tombong Jatta and his fellow APRC executives never stopped addressing Jammeh as “supreme leader”. They encouraged suggestions for former dictator Jammeh’s return to The Gambia as precondition for any political settlements with the innocent Barrow, government or any other party. Now that their supreme leader has rejected the sellout of their APRC party to NPP, they are all out trying to tell APRC members to ignore Jammeh. It is too late. The time to ignore Jammeh was 2017. The time to ignore Jammeh was to stop the various fake news of Jammeh’s imminent return to The Gambia and the time to tell APRC militants to ignore Jammeh is not now. Even if Jammeh does not have legal powers to dismiss the interim APRC executive, he has some moral authority over APRC supporters thanks to the APRC that tried to keep him relevant all these years and made the whole world accept that nothing in the APRC moves without he (Jammeh’s) blessings.
3. Most of those APRC top shots like Fabakary Tombong Jatta, Ousman ‘Rambo’ Jatta, Bakary ‘Bakso’ Jaiteh, Doudou Jah, Fatoumatta Jahumpa-Ceesay, Yankuba Colley, Musa ‘Amul’ Nyassi, Bala Garba Jahumpa and their former comrades Momodou Sabally, Seedy NK Njie, Abdoulie ‘Suku’ Singhateh, Muhamadou Tangara, Mambury Njie, Sheikh Omar Faye and others owe their political careers and success between 1994 to date to former president Jammeh. They have all, from time to time, shown blind loyalty to Jammeh. Therefore, the last-minute rejection of their political godfather dictator Jammeh will not make them credible and holy in the eyes of Gambian voters. All of a sudden the APRC executives want Gambians to believe that APRC belongs to The Gambia and not their “supreme leader” that they have been worshipping from 1996 to 15th October 2021 when he rejected their money driven pay-as-you-go betrayal politics? I am sorry for Gambians who will fall for this.
4. The APRC has since 2017 been more concerned about materialism and lost privileges than justice, reconciliation and national interest. This is obvious in the various complaints of the APRC executives about their depleted bank accounts, seized vehicles and other assets. No wonder they scrambled for the millions President Barrow threw at them to join his bus under the cover of fake national reconciliation. APRC has become the joke of the nation. If you travel across The Gambia, you hear people saying “Barrow has bought APRC”. They cannot convince smart Gambian voters that their marriage of convenience with NPP is a matter of national interest. Let them be honest: it is about their personal interests.
5. In effect, APRC is a dead party that is being kept alive by President Barrow. The strategic mistake NPP executives are making is by allowing the fear of UDP make them surrender power and influence to the unpredictable APRC. Records show that APRC has a “winner-takes-all” mentality. Even if some Barrow advisers try to sell APRC as clean party, the APRC is yirifa soto master of dirty politics. We should not forget the politics of lying against one another to appease dictator Jammeh as practiced by APRC between 1996 and 2016. The party that existed on lies cannot be trusted. APRC will not like to be junior partner of NPP after the December 2021. It will outsmart the gullible NPP executives by placing APRC loyalists in various key positions of the Barrow system to eventually monopolise Barrow and engage in palace coup with the old and greedy kabudu system.
6. The scientific fact from the recent UTG CepRass survey is that Gambians don’t want to be ruled by APRC again as the APRC has been using former president Jammeh’s name and image as the cornerstone of its political existence and agenda. The Gambia voters of 2021 are not the same as those of 2016 and 1996. They don’t want any political leader or group to re-invent the sorrowful years of 1994 to 2016 under the pretext of reconciliation without justice.
7. APRC, united or divided, cannot make anyone with presidential elections in 2021. The party’s reputation is bad and its latest attempt to distance itself from its supreme leader Yahya Jammeh will not sway public opinion in its favour as it has sold out its loyalty. They faked loyalty to Jammeh in absentia from 2017 to date and betrayed their members by selling their party to NPP for money. Voters are not sleeping.
Lastly, President Barrow should focus his energy and resources on promoting his achievements, his personality, the power of incumbency and a clean legacy rather than wasting time in trying to promote and be seen as forcing APRC and other recycled deadwoods on Gambian voters through the backdoor of his bus.
Gambians will vote for Barrow largely out of his personality and the fact that he is a victim of political exploitation. Barrow was honest in 2017 by making it known that he had no previous experience in government. He relied on a team that manipulated him to their advantages. His exemplary reliance on UDP for key decisions between 2017 and 2019 has affected the state of our transition. Now it is public knowledge that APRC was sold to Barrow by folks he trusted in making “wise” political decisions. Instead of doing thorough research into the public perception of APRC and the second republic, they presented Jammeh and APRC as key to Barrow’s re-election. They have been proven wrong by the UTG CepRass survey, the spilt in APRC and former President Jammeh’s rejection of the NPP APRC alliance. These developments are signals for a re-think in strategy by NPP. Put all your eggs in the basket of APRC at your own loss.
Barrow’s NPP executive should stop their cowardice, in-fighting, pettiness and rivalries over personal issues and show sincerity in promoting President Barrow decently. The political reality is that President Barrow can win on 4th December 2021 without APRC. He needs to just convince the huge chunk of undecided voters (40 percent) that he is the best alternative. More so national reconciliation without justice will not heal our nation.
There is no justification for baby-sitting those who messed up The Gambia during the presidencies of Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara and Yayha Jammeh. We are in 21st century Gambia and President Barrow needs to understand that we cannot depend on analogue politicians who have no solutions to the aspirations of Gambians in the digital age. The old wines in new bottles would only be interested in parasitic self-preservation at the expense of taxpayers.
I am no supporter of Yahya Jammeh. I am 100 percent pro Adama Barrow. Just that Yahya Jammeh’s rejection of NPP-APRC alliance has indirectly served as a relief to most of us within the NPP who are not comfortable with the blunder of associating with deadwood APRC. It was impossible to give President Barrow alternative views as access to him is monopolised by those who put their personal interest first and suffocated mature debate culture inside NPP. It is unfortunate that we have to wait for someone like Yahya Jammeh to speak first so that we can discuss the deceptions that are forced on President Barrow by elements with ulterior motives.
The fact that some NPP women and their followers take each other to the police and spend valuable time talking about sexual adventures shows that serious debate on strategic politics within the NPP is suppressed. If you disagree with those who have access to President Barrow, you become undesirable. The option is to keep quite or join the gossip about people’s private lives.
The author can be reached at [email protected]