By Ebrima S. Jallow
Politics is an interesting field that has been misinterpreted by a lot of people including some so-called political intellectuals. As far as this subject is concerned it is paramount to understand its meaning and concept. Politics, from a philosophical point of view is beyond the formation of political parties and contesting elections. It is a phenomenon that encompasses, in addition to political activities socio-economic wellbeing of a society. There is no political party that can strive in the absence of people’s participation. For this reason, it is salient for Gambians to know the stand point of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) as well as the issues and ethics surrounding its evolution in the Gambia.
Well before the formation of political parties, The Gambia was colonised and governed by the British for quite a number of years. This political ordeal is known to every Gambian as young as school going age. I do not need to dwell much over the activities of the colonial masters for it would certainly be monotonous, hence the relics of their presence are very visible in our country. What interests me as far as politics is concerned is the place of PPP in Gambia’s political spectrum. This party is the parent of all surviving political parties and forms the bedrock of political progression and development in the country. To get to the nitty-gritties of this party, its evolution, leadership and successive development form the basis of this article. The PPP is undoubtedly the most successful party in the Gambia that had enjoyed absolute majority for three decades from the electorate. This striking success was brought to a temporal halt by the Armed Forces Provisional Ruling Council, a group of Soldiers led by the former president Yahya Jammeh in a coup d’état. This unconstitutional acquisition of power became the foundation of the APRC Party. In order to gain grounds, the PPP was banned by the Coupists’ party for two consecutive presidential elections. This suspension bred chaos in the party and most members went disarray.
It was upon this backdrop and the need to re-unite that, the United Democratic Party (UDP) was born in 1996 to challenge the ruling junta and Lawyer Ousainou Darboe became the flag bearer; from the UDP party NDAM was formed as secessionists’ party from UDP as a result of its (UDP) leader’s complacency after the presidential election in 2001 and Lamin Waa Juwara as its flag bearer. As time passed, other Political parties followed suit. However, during the PPP regime, Parties like PDOIS and NCP were in existence but were influenced by the atmosphere provided by the Jawara-led government. Few years after the ousting of the PPP government, the mother of all parties decided to resurface in order to play the motherly role in bringing all the opposition parties together in a coalition to overthrow the APRC government through the ballot box. After several attempts, the historic 2016 coalition became a resounding success that the capability of the PPP leadership under Omar Amadou Jallow alias O.J has been manifested. This is a manifestation that the PPP is no match to any other political party in the country no matter how large they may claim to be.
Under the Jawara government, The Gambia was a level ground for political activism. Political activists carried out their activities without fear or intimidation, which really nurtured their intellectual political maturity. Gambian politicians in this era became world class politicians whose politics were built upon an environment that respected and recognised the presence of any individual interested in the pursuit of politics.
Sir Dawda with his Party leadership is owed a great deal of respect, dignity and honour. However, it is disheartening to hear the slanderous statement that ‘the PPP regime did absolutely nothing’. This was a propaganda statement fabricated and concocted by the APRC government in order to discredit its predecessor to attract support and followers. Blindly, they almost succeeded because a large number of people decided to ignore the realities of what the PPP government did and succumb to an illusionary propaganda designed to kill and burry the PPP forever. Nonetheless, despite all efforts to exterminate the party, it only slumbered for sometimes and awoke. The ultimate goal to have it extinct had failed. It got reborn and joined the political bandwagon, and gradually becoming the most revered and popular party as a result of the proactive and influential nature of its current leadership.
The reader may or may not agree with me, the fact remains that no building can stand for long without a strong foundation. Governance is like a building under construction, the ruling party is the mason, opposition parties are the brick layers, but the foundation upon which the mason and the brick layers comfortably build and lay their blocks is the first political party that must provide the environment for their endeavour. In short, politics cannot strive better in any country without a strong foundation. For the Gambia, the foundation was laid by the PPP and they deserve respect, honour and popular support. The Jammeh government could not have enjoyed the privileges of the infrastructural development it had built without the PPP government. This point is worth noting.
Let me draw your attention to one important thing that most party leaders lack, that is clearly visible in the PPP leadership. It is called ‘patriotism’. Patriotism is the most phenomenal concept that genuine electorate should look for when choosing a party to follow. As known to every Gambian, the PPP leader (Omar Amadou Jallow a.k.a O.J) is one of the most patriotic political party leaders that the Gambia has ever had. He puts the interest of the country first, then his party. There is a unique philosophy for which I revered this leadership and that makes the party loved and respected by even its opposition. The philosophy that, Gambia stands independent of all political parties; and that no party should assume importance over national interest. Like O.J always said, if national interest is in conflict with party interest, then the party interest should be compromised for the prosperity of the nation; this is genuine leadership. Suffice it to say, all political leaders will leave for the land of our silent fathers, yet The Gambia will remain with the living. Therefore let’s not allow party interest to soil our relationships with our neighbours to the extent of enmity and social destruction. I shall conclude by asking other parties’ leadership if they would compromise the interests of their parties for the interest of all (Gambia)!