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Sheikh Tijan Hydara, Presidential aspirant

Sheikh Tijan Hydara, Presidential aspirant

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The Standard: Who is Sheikh Tijan Hydara?

My name is Sheikh Tijan Hydara, I am a native of Brufut where my father, the late Sheriff Kebba Hydara was the Sheriffiya caliph. I was educated at the Gambia High School from 1981 to ’87 where I completed GCE A levels. I proceeded to read Law at the University of Sokoto, Nigeria graduating with an LLB combining Islamic and Common Law. I also obtained a BL at the Nigeria Law School in Lagos, Nigeria in 1997. I went on to pursue a diploma in legislative drafting at Lok-Shaba, New Delhi, India between 1999 and 2000. I finally obtained my LLM at the University of West Indies, Barbados in 2002. In between these academic pursuits, I worked in various capacities at the Ministry of Justice ranging from state counsel, principal legal draftsman, curator of the intestate to registrar of companies. On 17th November 2003, I was appointed Attorney General and Minister of Justice where I served until 2006 when I went on to lecture law at the University of The Gambia as well as operated a dairy farm. In 2014, I set up a private law firm called Lex-Fori Law Chambers at Bakau New Town. In June 2020, I registered my political party called the Gambia Alliance for National Unity, (Ganu).

Quite  an impressive civvie. I was told your family didn’t approve you, as a sheriff, to read law. Nonetheless, you went ahead. Why?

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I studied law to serve humanity, fight injustice and help the people who need justice, and indeed contribute my quota towards nation-building. As a sheriff, my family was later encouraged when I opted to study both common and Islamic law. The legal profession is like any other noble profession through which one can sacrifice a lot for his or her nation and the people in general. There are times when I helped some needy people freely. I represent them in court and even won their cases. Some people cannot afford to pay for all legal services, and we must help them as human beings.

You served as a justice minister under Jammeh on two occasions. How did you manage to work for so long with one of Africa’s most brutal dictators?

I have served under His Excellency the former president Alhaji Dr Yahya AJJ Jammeh with diligence, hard work, and patriotism. I have done my best for my country. Actually, I had good working relations with him, and he appreciated my work until after the 2006 presidential election when the entire cabinet was dissolved, and I decided to become a lecturer at the University of The Gambia.

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Why did you decide to join politics?

I have joined politics to serve my country and work for the best interest of the people. I have joined politics to have a say in key decision-making processes that will develop this country and I have the vision to transform this country into a developed nation whose citizens will have the quality of their livelihoods and living standards greatly improved. These and many other reasons like creation of employment, fighting against injustice, promoting democracy and respect for the rule of law, et cetera, cannot be easily archived if one is not voted into office as president.

What inspired the name Ganu?

The creation of the name Ganu came because of the deeply divided nation we have since 2017 to date. Additionally, the failure of the leadership to deliver as expected in terms of development, peace, progress, and security. Ganu is the party that would usher The Gambia into the era of real progress, peace, and prosperity, as we have plans to pull our nation out of five years of slumber and revive our economy to become a gateway for business, science, and technological advancement. The Gambia is at a crossroads and is on the brink of collapse not because we did not have a strong foundation at the start of our independence and onwards, but simply because we lacked the leadership that is supposed to engineer strong institutions. The current leadership has led us to live in a perpetual cycle of poverty, corruption, political apathy, economic regression and left us with a deeply divided nation. Ganu, bearing this in mind, knows we need a party that will help us move forward and be better as a nation by fostering unity, tolerance, reconciliation, and respect. This means providing equal opportunity to all Gambians regardless of their religion, ethnicity, or social status.

Since the formation of the party very little has been known about you and the party. How did you come by Jammeh and his APRC?

I was in consultation with the APRC party for some months before we finally came to this point. Actually, during that time, there was a proposal to form an alliance between the APRC and Ganu. All of a sudden, in the past few weeks we heard information that the executive of Fabakary Tombong Jatta decided to have an alliance with President Barrow which they claimed was approved by the party leader His Excellency the former president Yahya Jammeh, which was not true. We have all heard from the former president on Friday, 15th October 2021. He has agreed to form an alliance with Ganu but not NPP.

The reasons are that our party objectives are the same and together, we want to unite Gambians and continue the development projects he started, including additional projects that we have for the nation.

Therefore, on behalf of The Gambia Alliance for National Unity, I wish to express our profound gratitude and appreciation to the APRC party under the leadership of the former president, His Excellency Sheikh Professor Alhaji Dr Yahya AJJ Jammeh for his approval of an alliance between APRC and Ganu. Ganu also wishes to thank the newly-selected executive of the APRC for accepting to work with us in this alliance and together we shall send Barrow’s government packing on 4th  December if God wishes. We thank the supporters and militants of the APRC and Ganu for their tireless efforts and we encourage them to continue to support this great alliance to win the presidential election. While assuring HE Sheikh Professor Dr Alhaji Yahya Jammeh of our commitment to live up to expectations and deliver as expected, we appeal to all peace-loving and development-oriented Gambians to support our alliance to fix this country’s problems and turn a new page.

You said you were negotiating with the Fabakary Jatta-led executive. What exactly happened?

Yes that’s true. We have been in negotiations for some months but eventually, they decided to join forces with Barrow without the approval and blessing of the majority of their members and the party chairman.

Now that you have inherited APRC’s faction loyal to Jammeh, how big do you think this faction is in terms of potential voters, and do you think other APRC members will join your coalition after hearing from Jammeh?

Yes of course! When the former president, Jammeh, addressed his supporters, the majority except a few, accepted and they are all with us. We shall prove to Barrow and his followers that the majority of APRC are with Jammeh and they have supported the alliance with Ganu.

FTJ’s people are saying they are the legitimate APRC. What do you say to that?

Well, everyone knows that in February 2021, the Alliance for Patriotic Re-orientation and Construction selected His Excellency Sheikh Professor Dr Alhaji Yahya AJJ Jammeh during the party’s national congress as provided for under the APRC party constitution, as their chairman, besides his role as the founder of the party. Therefore, the party’s file at the Independent Electoral Commission should show whether this selection was formally registered with the electoral body or not. The issue of legitimacy will be dealt with later and it will be clear to everyone.

In this make-or-break election, some political analysts have questioned Jammeh’s wisdom to form an alliance with a political lightweight like yourself. What do you think is the reason for your selection?

The reason is already said everywhere. Ganu is the party that has a similar vision with the APRC in terms of promoting unity, peace, and stability in this divided nation. Besides, we have policies to develop this country to become one of the best in Africa and the world at large. What we need is good leadership that will deliver to the Gambian people and that leadership can be found in APRC and Ganu.

They said Jammeh’s alliance with Ganu is bargaining cheap to push Barrow to do his bidding or to fast-track his return to The Gambia, is that true?

Well, HE Alhaji Dr Yahya Jammeh is a citizen of this country and he has developed every sector of this country immensely. He has the right to come home anytime and will come in peace if the time arises. Our alliance will ensure that we continue to develop this country from where he stopped and we shall unite Gambian, call for reconciliation, and foster peace and tranquillity.

The ouster of Jammeh was greeted with enthusiastic hope for a new Gambia. But five years down the line, those hopes and aspirations have faded. Where did the Barrow administration get it wrong?

The Barrow government got it all wrong from the beginning until today. They failed to promote unity, nurture peace and tranquillity, and equal rights and justice. The Barrow government is not serious about fighting corruption, has not created employment, and is not fit at all to deliver the promises they made in terms of development. The Gambia lacks the good leadership it needs to become a developed nation with people of progressive ideas. It is only the APRC-Ganu alliance that can deliver such expectations. Therefore, I appeal to all Gambians to vote for us to deliver the change we want.

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