Mai Ahmad Fatty’s removal as minister of the Interior on Friday has shocked the entire nation. The Standard sampled opinions of Gambians across the globe on the hot topic.
Alieu Bah, activist
During our #occupywestfield negotiations with Mai Fatty, he came off as a well meaning, humble and approachable person. He accorded us the dignity and respect we deserve and more. This came as a blow to me. I wish him well in his newest endeavor. He indeed does love and admire young people. Bless him.”
Pata J Saidykhan, unapologetic government supporter
I’m sure we’d not get an official reason for Mai’s redeployment because section 71(4) is enough. But here’s my take: In flexing your muscles, you lost your biggest muscle. There’s NOT a minister as committed and effective as Hon. Mai Ahmad Fatty.
Mustapha Darboe, journalist
Faith in the Almighty God is our strongest pillar of hope and strength. Service to humanity is service to God. The rare opportunity to serve one’s country faithfully, is a rare honour and privilege. May God bless The Gambia.,” said Mai Fatty after he was fired as Interior Minister.
But why? Ended a meeting with the Occupy Westfield guys, no agreement reached and he was summoned to State House. In the evening he was fired and Occupy Westfield given a permit after a human right lawyer Ba Tambadou was directed to oversee the ministry.
A close aide of Mai told me that he was neither aware of the issuance of permit nor did he have any influence over it. So it is not a mere conjecture to say it was because of Occupy Westfield but there is certainly more to it than just that.
Certainly, it could be tempting given that the denial of permit for Occupy Westfield by Barrow might suggest he agreed with what Darboe and Co went through, not to talk of Solo Sandeng. The denial can also be understood as Barrow reneging on his campaign promises.
Finally, it attracted so much negative publicity for the government and as politics is not a battle field and politicians not soldiers, no one takes bullet for another.
But is this enough justification to fire a minister or should he be merely invited and cautioned? I certainly will fine any president who fires his minister on this basis as a hypocrite or a fool.
So my conclusion is that what in fact appears to be clear, Mai’s sacking, is in fact not clear. Is it because of the Semlex corruption allegation? That would be really stupid because Mai has not awarded that contract.
In fact, that contract to Semlex was awarded by Yahya Jammeh’s administration after Semlex was vetted by a ministerial committee in which sat the likes of The Standard newspaper proprietor Sheriff Bojang while he was communication minister and the head of the government Public Private Partnership department, Mustapha Samateh, at the ministry of finance with some officials from the finance ministry and Central Bank.
Is it some imaginary drug business crime he allegedly got into while in US or some rumour that he goes around asking prayers from elders because he wants to succeed Barrow? If it is about succession, then I would say Halifa Sallah and Lawyer Darboe are the only members of the coalition who have openly talked about wanting to be president after the transition. These stories were reported on the media and they happened even Barrow settled in his executive chair.
Or maybe it is about the anger in Kombo that they have no ministerial position. Every influential Kombonka I spoke to in the past few months is not happy with the level of attention they have received from Barrow administration.
Darboe visibly tried to correct this with various ambassadorial appointments but that did not do the trick. I was not born then but I have read what happened when DK Jawara was believed to have betrayed the provincial agenda. Sheriff Dibba relied on that anger and sense of betrayal to build a career.
Be aware that protectorate at independence was Kombo to Nuimi. Is this an effort from UDP to avoid the mistake that nearly clouded Jawara’s career? Will Mai be succeeded by a Kombonka?
So if it is none of the above, then what the fuck is it? Or is Barrow modeling Macky Sall? Or perhaps it is Barrow’s own way of saying I CAN ALSO BE TOUGH?
My conclusion is that Barrow is trying to get support from certain quotas. Mai has been perhaps the most criticized member of Barrow’s cabinet. Politics is not a religion and as they would say, “throw him under the bus”.
Well, you better know who you will throw under the bus…
Sainey MK Marenah, journalist
Thank you Hon. Mai Ahmad Fatty for your unflinching service to the Nation. Good luck in your future assignments. Gambia needs you more than ever. I’m lucky to work and cross paths with you in your capacity as then opposition leader and Human Rights lawyer. Everything happen for a reason. Move on and stay blessed. You supported hundreds of Gambians including myself while in exile.
I will say without ambiguity that he was my favorite of all the ministers. I love his assertiveness, which was sometimes confused with arrogance. I love his confidence, which was sometimes misinterpreted as showboat. Regardless of what you may think of him, he did quite well as Interior Minister for someone who never had any security services experience. Thank you for your service! Wishing you all the best in your future undertakings. Jambarr nga!
This is gonna cost President Barrow’s government dearly. Hon. Mai Fatty is well loved and respected and no amount of envy, jealousy, infighting or hatred can bring this grate Gambian down.
This is the man who fought for justice from high school to university. He demonstrated this by defending the late Baba Jobe when he knew the consequences of such actions under the brutal dictator. Being a key member of the coalition the public needs to know the reason for redeploying him to Foreign Service. I wish you success in your new assignment.
Omar A Bojang
Great sense honourable, you have surely proven yourself under the prevailing circumstance. It’s crucial that you appreciate destiny and ready to forge ahead. It does not how long one occupies a position, but how much you serve in respect to the position held.
You managed a very sensitive portfolio under the current political dispensation with diligence and decisiveness. You can serve the country in another capacity. Surely it’s not the end of the journey. With unshakable faith, the future is undoubtedly bright.
Lamin Manneh, youth activist
This is what dishonest people deserve. Mai thought he is untouchable going around arresting people and witch-hunting minorities. Allah is watching and never sleeps.
Ansumana Camara, a social justice activist, working with Activista Gambia:
Well I know this government is democratically elected. Thank God that the issue of frequent hiring and firing of top government officials is a history. I’m with a strong conviction this is in the interest of the country. Hon. Fatty was a key member of the coalition that led to the New Gambia. The decision must be based on concrete reasons.
Jason Sanyang, graduate of law at UTG:
The decision is sudden. It’s not what is expected in less than a year into the new government. It’s another indication of the inevitable disintegration of the coalition. But all coalitions end up like this. I know they’re not going to be in one package throughout the five year term of President Barrow.
Bilal Keita, a youth activist:
They need to tell us the reason behind the development. I think Mai Fatty is one of the most active and energetic Ministers in the current government. The Gambia needs a system where the hiring and firing of Ministers goes through a fair and transparent process in institutions like the National Assembly.
Kemo Bojang, UTG student, a social and political commentator:
I think it was done in the best interest of the state and the government knows why the redeployment was done. But I think Mai Fatty has been one of the best Ministers. He’s been proactive, and has made great security reforms. I know he has the country at heart and I wish him good luck.
Jokin Jarjue, student at UTG:
I’m happy that he’s relieved from the post. In my opinion, he seemed not knowing the domain of his ministerial position. I’m glad to see him relieved and he’ll not be at the centre of things anywhere.
Fatou M. Jawo, a graduate of law at UTG:
I think the decision is not bad one in the sense that, for one to be able to effectively and efficiently execute the duties as Minister of Interior, you at least need some knowledge and security experience. And I don’t think Mai Fatty has that, so I think it’s ok.
Any way I need the government to explain the reason why he was relieved. Is it because he gave permit to #OccupyWestfield or what? I consider him as the best Interior Minister ever in this country.
Samba Bah, Former Speaker National Youth Parliament-The Gambia:
Mai’s redeployment is a very interesting development considering the fact that it’s not only the first of its kind in Barrow administration, but came at a time when the administration is being tested. It’s ok for the President to reshuffle his cabinet. What we do not want to see is it being done uncontrollably, the Jammeh way. Also, since it’s redeployment, I think is a lesser knock. Finally, this is a strong message from President Barrow. We’ve for long taken him to be a toothless bulldog and now he’s stepping up his game. I think the move on Mai is very strategic as public opinion about him is polarized.