By Omar Bah
Veteran politician Omar Jallow (OJ), a former minister of agriculture in the coalition government, who was fired in 2018, has said he was not contacted with an offer to serve as vice president, which is currently occupied by Dr Isatou Touray.
There were mounting speculations last year that President Barrow was considering rehiring OJ, this time as vice president. At the height of the rumour, OJ was said to be in the United Kingdom but his political protégé, former leader of PPP Papa Njie, was appointed Gambia’s High Commissioner to the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
But speaking to Star FM in a programme to be aired Monday, Mr Jallow dispelled such rumours, adding even if he is offered, he would never work in government again.
OJ said if those making the rumours know him well would understand that he does not say something today and does the opposite tomorrow.
“After I had served as deputy foreign minister, parliamentary secretary for 4 years, minister of water resources and the environment for 8 years, minister of agriculture for 6 years all under Jawara and 18 months under Barrow, that is enough for me, especially now that I am 74 years old. If President Barrow wishes, I would advise him but I will never work in an office again,” OJ said.
OJ further revealed that time to time, Barrow would contact him for advice. “Even these days, I went to see him for us to discuss some issues. I feel I should discuss it with him because we are the ones who put him there with the help of God. So let us accept God’s will. We should understand that Barrow is just a human being and we should give him good advice for the interest of this country,” he added.
The former agriculture minister said he has no doubt about the current IEC’s impartiality. “I must however say that I had little doubts when they announced the suspension of the voter registration but when they said they had an issue with the GPPA, I understood. Also, the fact that there will be counting on the spot, there cannot be any cheating on voting day. We should all ensure that the spot counting stays,” he said.
Asked whether the opposition is strong enough to unseat Barrow, OJ argued: “You know in politics, sometimes you think you have support when in reality you don’t have support. This is why the next election will be determined by the strategies and programmes of the different political parties ahead of the election. But I can tell the Gambian people that I have not seen anything that Barrow has done that I don’t support. So I don’t see anyone who can unseat him.”
OJ said Gambians should blame Ousainu Darboe for saying he would sue anyone who asked Barrow to step down after three years, and Barrow for refusing to step down.
“I was never absent in any of the coalition executive meetings – but when Ousainu Darboe was released from prison, he announced in the media that anyone who asks Barrow to step down after three years, he would take you to court. When he came to the executive, he said there again and he was able to convince most of the coalition partners to go for the 5 years. I was the only one who voted against the 5 years. It is only PDOIS who were absent in that meeting,” OJ added. He said Barrow never proposed for 5 or 3 years. OJ said the coalition’s disintegration started when Darboe and his UDP colleagues were dismissed.
Asked by The Standard why he had changed his mind from his initial insistence on the three- year time table, which many believed caused his sacking, OJ said he had stepped down from the leadership of the PPP and the new leadership, just like many others in the Coalition, has decided to support the 5 years agenda.
OJ said the PPP will continue to be loyal to the Coalition 2016 until the end of President Barrow’s mandate after which the party will decide whether they should go into another coalition with Barrow or any other party.
He added that the PPP is still represented in government by James Gomez and will continue supporting the government’s policies, arguing that supporting Barrow will not affect the party’s relevance.
“We are working to stabilize the party because PPP is more relevant than any party making noise in The Gambia. There is no doubt about this because if it was not for PPP’s legacy and foundation laying, nobody would have formed a party,” he said.