Sort PPP Out Instead Of Meddling
Into UDP’s Internal Business
I would like to make a rejoinder to a story you published in your newspaper captioned “Darboe should step aside now -says OJ Jallow”.
I read with an utter dismay OJ’S personal attack on Ousainu Darboe’s leadership of the United Democratic Party (UDP), a party which Mr. Jallow is not a member of. It seems to me that OJ has got it all wrong by accusing Darboe of hijacking the leadership of the United Democratic Party by refusing to step down as the leader of the Party. First and the foremost, I would like to put the records straight for Mr. Jallow and others who may harbour the same sentiments about Ousainu Darboe’s leadership of the Party. I want him to know that the United Democratic Party was not formed by Lawyer Darboe and therefore cannot and did not at any time attempt to make himself the leader of the Party.
United Democratic Party was formed by genuine citizens of this country – people who did not want to watch their country being destroyed by people who have no leadership qualities and the best interest of the country. These patriotic Gambians then set out to look for a Gambian who is best suited to lead the country out of the terrible situation we were in at the hands of the then junta. They found in Lawyer Ousainou Darboe as someone who is sincere, capable, honest, sympathetic, educated and respectful to all. This is how Darboe was selected as the leader of the new Party.
On OJ’s assertion that it is the UDP that made Ousainou what he is, I would like OJ to know that Ousainou Darboe had already made a name for himself well before the coming into power of the military regime and the advent of the United Democratic Party. It was since 1981 abortive coup d’état, after which your PPP regime arrested scores of innocent Gambians detained them in depot along with the then main opposition National Convention party leader, Sheriff Mustapha Dibba, and his supporters. They were accused of conspiring with rebels to over throw the PPP government and subsequently charged with treason. Lawyer Darboe successfully defended Hon. Sheriff Mustapha Dibba pro bono. This case and many others put Lawyer Darboe’s name on the map of The Gambia. So, Darboe had made a name for himself since the time of the first republic thanks to the high-handedness of the regime OJ was a prominent member of.
Again when your constitutionally elected PPP regime was illegally toppled by Yaya Jammeh and his power hungry military junta in July 1994 and all your assets were not only seized but you were asked to pay all your parliamentary loans or else your properties would be confiscated by the state and sold to pay those loans, it was Ousainou Darboe who stood for many PPP members and others to defend them against illegal and unlawful seizure of their properties.
When you were also unconstitutionally and unfairly banned from taking part in politics by degree 89, it was Ousainou Darboe who lobbied and put it on his campaign agenda for that ban to be lifted on you and others, without anyone asking him to so. It is these and scores of other Gambians that Ousainou Darboe defended in this country without asking for pay most of the time that made him what he is today.
The members of UDP are in much better position to tell who benefited from whom and not someone like OJ who is floundering all over the place looking for political relevance. I would also want Mr. Jallow to know that it is the National Executive of the United Democratic Party that determines the congress of the United Democratic Party and not Ousainou Darboe. UDP is a democratic party that is not micromanaged by one individual. So to say that Ousainou should convene a party congress to step down and give way for a younger person to emerge as leader is not OJ’s business in the first place, because he has his scattered PPP which he should be busy fixing instead but not trying to instigate UDP to rise against Ousainou Darboe. So these statements he made are not only misleading but unfortunate. It is meant undermine Ousainou Darboe for reasons best known to him, OJ. This will only sow the seeds of distrust within the opposition camp which will further undermine the unity that OJ himself keeps talking about like every concerned Gambian. I can only wonder if OJ is truly sincere about this call for unity.
I think what OJ should be fighting is lack of the presidential term limit that was in the draft of the 1997 constitution and was removed by the APRC parliamentarians without consulting Gambians about it. OJ should join the honest and democratic minded Gambians to fight age cap on presidential candidates which not a global norm. This provision goes against democratic principles. There is a Wolof proverb that goes like this: “nyaka leka chi ndabli waruta takh nga copa chi souf” which means even if you don’t have the chance to eat in a basin that should not force you to pour sand it to prevent other people to eat it. Gambians need to get this attitude from their thinking if we are to put the interest of the nation as our first priority.
I have high regard and respect for OJ and he knows that. I know even though he is two years older than Mr. Darboe, it is today that he OJ have sound mind to lead his country and could do better than president Jammeh, in terms of upholding the rule of law and order and steering the wheel of the government in the right direction. How can opposition parties come together to form a genuine coalition if people like OJ, for one reason or another, are harboring grudges against their fellow opposition leaders and are bent on maneuvering behind the scenes to undermine UDP and its Leader.
Some in the opposition do not see the ruling party, APRC, as their problem but see UDP as their main rival. OJ should know that his fall from political glory was due to the coup d’état by Yahya Jammeh and not Ousainou Darboe’s leadership of the UDP. When we formed National Alliance for Democracy and Development (NADD), it was this kind of selfishness that OJ and others refused to accept the largest party to lead the coalition which is the norm and custom of political coalitions the world over. OJ was one of the individuals for the failure of NADD. He tried to sneak around and hoodwink people into making him the leader of NADD which he knows under true democratic proceedings he will not succeed. But that’s OJ for you. He is always going around and telling everyone what they want to hear without regard for veracity.
We have been monitoring the games OJ has been playing over the years in undermining the United Democratic Party by calling its members and convincing them to abandon the UDP and join his PPP. On the other hand, we have not seen where OJ calls APRC members to draw them to the opposition. How can one have faith in OJ’s sincerity in his dealings with UDP if this is his modus operandi?
Let’s wait and see the proposed PPP tour of the country if it ever happens and OJ is notorious of promising and failing on a grand scale. He will mostly try to encroach on the supporters of the UDP and not APRC supporters to come and join his party. OJ knows that a lot of those supporting the APRC today are former PPP supporters. Would it not be prudent for him to get those people back first? We have been avoiding talking about these things because we thought there is still room for a better way forward for opposition unity but it is now time for us to speak our minds on how OJ is trying to undermine the UDP. I would advice OJ to concentrate on building his beleaguered PPP if that possible or he can find a suitable party to join in the opposition as many of his former colleagues have advised and done. Let OJ have a serious introspection and decide where to put his energy and talents for the good of Gambia first and foremost. If he sincerely follows the right path, it would be good for both OJ and The Gambia.
Ebrima (SOLO) Sandeng
Secretary General Youth Wing of the United Democratic Party (UDP)