Many of us got swallowed up in the euphoria at the dawn of Barrow’s presidency and either missed the obvious or turned a blind eye because it matched our political interests. The obvious was the failure to take stock. The obvious was to hold ourselves and each other accountable for our actions and inactions over the twenty-two-year tyranny of the APRC government.
Unfortunately, the prevailing sentiment was that Yahya Jammeh is our ONLY problem and since he’s not here anymore, everything will work out just fine. Those of us who called for holding his enablers accountable were called all sorts of names. Some of you went on a carousel of whataboutism while others engaged in talmudic distinctions on who is an “enabler” and who is a good or bad person. In the end, the dictator enablers that were in the good books of the coalition government were all given a free ride on the backs of Gambians. Those enablers who were in opposition parties were also given a red-carpet welcome with all manner of silly justifications for their actions flying about. Selective accountability was planted, watered and nursed by us and today we reap its bitter lessons.
From the IEC’s rejection of Sabally’s candidature to the PIU’s brutality against citizens, lessons abound for us that the tyrant may be hibernating in Equatorial Guinea but his system is largely intact. And that is because we allowed that system to continue unabated. We tried to play fast and loose with accountability.
We forgive our friends, family and associates but insist on holding others accountable. Isn’t that what Adama Barrow and his IEC are also doing? Families and friends of these dictator enablers claim they were just following orders! Well, by that same logic, the Junglers were also just following orders. So why don’t we just forgive everyone and continue the pretense that Yahya is the only guilty one and that our friends, families and associates are all saints! We left the IEC intact to continue claiming “free and fair elections” as if we ever had that in this country. No one held them to account for years of allowing Jammeh to steal elections!
Far be it from me to hold brief for Yahya Jammeh but the fact is that Yahya Jammeh alone is not responsible for the twenty-two years of tyranny in The Gambia. I dare say that every single one of us could have done better by our people over those dark twenty-two years. And no one held us to account. It was easier to pretend and pretend many of us did hiding behind “we are a peaceful and religious people.” Many of us pretended as if Yahya is the only guilty one and our friends, political party mates and family members are all good people who did no wrong.
We, Gambians, put accountability on life support and impunity became en vogue! Barrow is only doing what we allowed him to do and what he sees some of us doing too. When the tyrant was booted out, we were more in a hurry to partake in the “national cake” than take stock of our actions and make the difficult but necessary decision of holding each other accountable! This is what led to the selective accountability we see today. And the selective accountability will continue until such time that we get serious as a people and hold each other accountable and not make silly excuses for enablers of tyranny that we know. If not, those in power will protect their friends and only go after their enemies in the name of the “law”; no matter how egregious that law is and no matter how selectively it is enforced. And in the end, nothing will come out of the selective enforcement of egregious laws!