By Alagie Manneh
A former key UDP surrogate now executive member of the NPP, Fabou Sanneh, has revealed to The Standard that political commentator Madi Jobarteh refused advances by the UDP to be its flag-bearer and lead the 2016 Coalition. The party settled on Adama Barrow who went on to defeat incumbent President Jammeh at the polls.
Speaking in an expansive interview with The Standard at the NPP headquarters in Churchill’s Town, the Kiang-born politician who ditched the Yellow Army to join President Barrow’s NPP, said after the party wrote to Mr Jobarteh he did not respond to them formally and instead took to his Facebook page to turn down the UDP’s advances.
Mr Sanneh exposited: “It was in 2016 during those tense times. At the time, there was no prominent person within the party [UDP] as far as local people are concerned that we can look up to because of his or her political activities for the party, and said hey, this is the outright candidate. It was difficult. We formed committees and I was fortunate to be the chairman of the diaspora sub-committee and liaised with the team in The Gambia to identify a candidate for the party. When we reached out to people, immediately, there was none. In fact, we asked Dembo ‘By Force’ Bojang as the national president to announce that the party was looking for candidates and this was all over the newspapers and radios. We had Bou Jarju, my friend, at the time. We had Mr Darboe from Sibanor who also wrote. Some names were given to me for consultation. Madi Jobarteh was one of them. Then he was all the way in Holland. I was contacted by some of his friends that he can be contacted for possible candidature, unfortunately, he declined. I have everything in record.”
Mr Sanneh said it was then that the party turned to Adama Barrow, now president of The Gambia.
“He [Barrow] was identified to us by Dembo ‘By Force’ and Aji Yam Secka,” he said.
Mr Sanneh said a note purportedly came from Mile 2 Prison instructing the party not to select Barrow as flag-bearer.
“We got information that the note was from our party leader, and that it said we should not select Barrow but instead select Dr Isatou Touray,” he recalled.
Among other things, Mr Sanneh also discussed strategies in place to defeat the UDP in the December polls, and rubbished reports that he connived with one Sheriff Dino Hydara to peddle the false information on The Fatu Radio that Yahya Jammeh wanted to sacrifice 70 schoolchildren, a report which caused panic leading to the closure of schools for many days in the country.
Reacting to Mr Sanneh’s exposé, Madi Jobarteh told The Standard last night: “The UDP did not contact me officially. I declined because I am not a member of UDP and had no plans to be president… I wasn’t interested to be a president and to date I want to remain as activist. Political office was not something I was looking for. I was not even in town. The Gambia was at a critical time. My advice at the time was that UDP should not put up a flag-bearer. I have no regrets with the decision. It was however an achievement that Jammeh is out.”
Read the full excerpt of the interview on Bantaba this Friday.