Will Jammeh's Demise Really Change Gambia?

Jammeh 1By Papa Kumba Loum 

There has been much speculation about the near end of the reign of President Yahya Jammeh. During the months of May/June of 2013 there were extensive rumors regarding the celebrated Senegalaise clairvoyant lady Selbey Ndom who it was claimed had put an ultimatum of 90 days to Jammeh’s rule. This rumor was however quickly dispelled by Selbey herself in a TV interview. Most recently, we have been bombarded by the online newspapers about Jammeh’s failing health. First we were told it was bipolar disease, and then quickly followed by rumor of brain tumor and now we have been recently informed that he is suffering from colon cancer. Not surprising, many are hoping and even praying fervently that this recently pronounced ailment will incapacitate him sooner so that the Gambia and Gambians will be free from his shackles.

The disappearance of Jammeh from the scene will no doubt be a welcomed relief to many Gambians and non Gambians alike. Thousands of Gambians have been forced into exile for fear of being arrested, tortured, falsely imprisoned and even killed and they would like to come home on holidays and to visit their families and love ones, to work, invest etc, etc.

Jammeh has ruled the Gambia for the last 20 years with an iron fist and in the process, he has weakened and rendered ineffective all the branches of government especially the legislature and the Judiciary and many other institutions have been rendered unproductive due to his unlawful intrusive interference.  In today’s Gambia, Jammeh is the law, judge and executioner and the only business entity in the country. He has abused, maltreated, imprisoned and murdered many; continue to loot, pillage, and plunder the economy; make a mockery of and humiliated many religious leaders and prominent Gambians. Interestingly however,   Jammeh has been able to expose the selfishness and deplorable nature of many Gambians who have counsel, aided, abetted and implemented his agendas. Jammeh could not have done it alone without the connivance of many Gambians.

While we hopefully await his exit through divine intervention as it is obvious that Gambians don’t have what it takes to remove him from power, the question that should be in our mind is – will the demise of Jammeh transform Gambians to be conscientious, truly God fearing, truthful, unselfish and productive people? We should all be mindful of the fact that the likes of Dr Tamsir Mbow, Njogu Bah, Lamin Jobarteh, Edu Gomez, Fatoumata Jaumpa Ceesays, Alieu Mboge, Imam Fatty, Lang Conteh, Sanna Manjang, Solo Bojang, the Green Boys, the Black Black Boys to name a few are all home grown. These are born and bred Gambians who have shamelessly supported, implemented and defended his atrocities. Jammeh could not have done it alone without the support of many Gambians and the silent majority who believe that it is okay for Jammeh to imprison, kill and maim others so long as it did not affect them or their immediate families.

The demise of Jammeh will therefore not necessary wipeout this group of Gambians with these sickening traits. Believe me there are many Gambians with these attributes and that is why Jammeh has been able to replace them with ease as soon as they were liquidated after serving their purpose. You only have to visit the Mile 2 Central Prisons to find many of these revolting Gambians who hitherto their fall from grace were the mouth piece and implementers of all the heinous acts of Jammeh. The good thing is that the AFPRC/APRC is now cannibalizing its own children and sycophants and thanks to Jammeh’s madness and not because of any effective opposition and or pressure from civil society.

The new Gambia should therefore invest on institutions that work and we should all strife to abide by the dictates of the rule of law and separation of powers. Our Judiciary needs to be completely overhauled. An independent and corrupt free judiciary is just lip service in today’s Gambia and there is ample evidence to support this assertion. The civil service especially and security forces need to be de-politicize. Most importantly, Gambians should cut down on our hypocritical religious fervors and respect each other regardless of ethnicity, tribe and or religious beliefs and orientation. Gambians should value quality education and celebrate and reward excellence. We must engage each other openly on mundane and productive debates. Sadly Gambians have been fed with a lot of gibberish from Jammeh, his officials and sycophants. Mediocrity is the order of the day in all that we do and say – just visit Gambian institutions or watch and listen to GRTS and you wonder what kind of country we are living in.

Consequently as Gambians debate, form, structure and join organizations and eagerly await for divine intervention for the demise of Jammeh, we should not make the mistake of replacing him with another tyrant. Remember tyrants come in many forms and the only way to safeguard our liberties from despotic leadership is when we scrutinize all those who vie for public office and continue to monitor and engage them.  Our saving grace is to build institutions that work and oversight institutions (i.e. Human Rights Commission, Anti-corruption Commission, Ombudsman Office etc) that serve as a check to the excesses of government powers. We cannot give a free hand to anyone individual no matter how much we love and adore them. The last African Political Saint Nelson Mandela was buried on the 15 December 2013 and it will take a long time to have another reincarnate.   Gambians remember Lord Acton’s profound statement “power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely”. We need a dynamic, broadminded, dedicated, able, secular and forward looking leadership. After 20 years of despotic and idiotic rule, Gambia and Gambians now deserve better.



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