On April 26th 2015, the National Resistance Movement Group (NRMG) issued a press release. In the release as published on Freedom Newspaper, NRMG stationed itself as the main Diaspora civil society association, thus, “As a civil society organization, the National Resistance Movement of the Gambia (NRMG) strongly believes that after 20 years of dictatorship the struggle to unseat the Jammeh administration should adopt a much tougher stance in dealing with an existential threat that the regime has come to represent” (Freedom Newspaper 4/26/2015. Culled from the web http://www.freedomnewspaper.com/Homepage/tabid/36/newsid367/10861/NRMG-TALKS-ABOUT-AN-AUTOMATIC-POST-JAMMEH-ENDEAVOR-WHILE-JAMMEH-IS-STILL-IN-POWER/Default.aspx).
To many followers of Gambia’s politics, NRMG shot itself on the foot, limping like wounded warriors defeated from a fierce battle, from its ill-advised political move. This is not even a question as it is befittingly a conclusion for obvious reasons. One is left wondering what is left of the NRMG, which started from an announcement and has plunged itself into dirty mud with the latest announcement.
Way back during its birth in March of 2014, the NRMG announced thus, “Against this back-drop the NRMG is prepared to take the lead in removing this illegitimate government from power by all means necessary. We urge partnership with all progressive forces in this struggle to achieve the ultimate objective, the removal of Jammeh the despot. Our aim is to restore democracy and the rule of law to the Gambia. To this end we herein extend invitation to all Gambians to help in liberating our land. As a group, we share in the philosophy a peaceful method of effecting change. That is the preferred option. At the same time we rule out no option should the political processes fail to yield the desired results” (Gainako Online Newspaper 3/12/2014. Culled from the web http://gainako.com/?p=4585).
Just weighing the transformation between the two stand points, it shows the real disconnect, even to where the top trios of the NRMG might have schooled themselves, but lacks the arithmetic of politics and its maintenance, at least in today’s Gambia. Even from its initial press release, the group promised that other members of its group were to be announced, and to date, no other member was announced except Binneh Minteh.
To be quite frank, at the time of NRMG’s birth, most people were a little skeptical, curious, and suspicious of the group formed by Gambia’s former soldiers, for example Pa Modou Ann (a brother of mine at close range) was a major, Binneh was a lieutenant, and Alagie Kanteh was a Captain and a onetime outspoken spokesperson of the APRC. For one, Jammeh who is now a rotten tyrant is a product of this group, and added to the fact, Africa’s history with military rule shows abuse of power, with many soldiers not properly trained who ends up being power drunks. With the trio all from top military positions some who may have even trained and led these soldiers, what have they inculcated in Jammeh and the remnants of their army soldiers? Two years ago, former GPU President and media guru, Demba Ali Jawo positioned that Africa’s military were good at brutalizing citizens but when it came defending the nation, they were nowhere to be found.
During the NRMG’s inception, I personally supported their birth due to what was thoughtfully a military intervention approach to confront Jammeh through resistance movement. Another reason is the personable part of some its members from interactions over the years in activism which earned them respect. I know many other youths that supported them for the same reason. From their political toad-metamorphosis over time, they proved to be playing with political words, positioning themselves for power, come what may. Citizens whom the NRMG represents can now question: If NRMG didn’t have the military component or were not ready to confront Jammeh man-to-man, why didn’t they join CORDEG? During some of the press conferences, every citizen who witnessed it knows that NRMG gave us the impression that they were stripping Jammeh off power any time soon. People now see why NRMG refused to answer some specific questions relating to timelines in handling Jammeh.
For one thing that is certain, composition of Gambian political parties on the ground; G-n (5, 6, or 7) did some work on political reform and what the NRMG mentioned of political reform offers nothing new or fresh. This emergence of theirs connects with neither the political parties nor Gambians on the ground. It doesn’t give them any constituency in the diaspora as the nation’s backbone; the youths have taken charge of their destiny, a youth catalyst on touch down in no time. From the NRMG’s set-up, where its leaders positioned themselves to their positions in NRMG without public participation, and now offering itself as a mediating group will not go well with many citizens both at home and in the Diaspora, and that is to say, if you are representing Gambians, group leadership selections must be transparent and inclusive with citizens. That is where CORDEG won the peoples’ respect, even to where CORDEG is currently in political coma which Professor Saine is idly sitting on waiting for the humiliating fall, it was still a group that called citizens from the far and near to get their vote to lead.
Did the U.S Neutrality ACT make NRMG change its military invention vision? Well, from all indications especially the ongoing trial of alleged coup plotters on December 30th in the Gambia, it cannot be ruled out as a factor, because two of its top militants in the person of Professor Minteh and Ann live in the U.S. But NRMG’s leader should have proved to be a commander in chief, to engage the U.S authorities and seek amendment of that unfavorable law (U.S Neutrality ACT) and seek a military intervention to dislodge the criminal ruler. That would have even convinced potential sponsors and citizens to see the NRMG as a serious political player.
In the past, NRMG and any other forming groups were advised that nothing is wrong with forming civil society groups, but this should not be done in a way that bars unity of the diaspora and political parties. All of these groups should be able to work in parallels. But what we have seen from most if not all is competition in headlines, constituency, donors, and even mere political utterances that are not followed through.
Oh well, history doesn’t fool or deceive citizens and those that try to play with history will also get wrapped in funny trap. The one time promising NRMG has now shot itself on the foot and it is wholly crippled. NRMG is done. It is up to its 4 leaders (with little or no constituency) to just tell people the full disclosures. The more they play political gymnastic, the more they expose the emptiness of the organization. That will not go well with their future political careers. To continue to hang on thinking a miracle will happen overnight is suicidal. It must be earned now, especially when Gambians are going through the hell that they are going through under a ruthless dictator. Please no more tickling! Citizens are tired of promising desert mirages and any time a tired distant traveler gets to a mirage, it became clear that it wasn’t a drinking fountain. Then all hopes are shattered and one is left dreaming again for long walks.
In the end, the NRMG have a choice. They should restore the military intervention part to their agenda and convince international organizations and countries like the U.S with the “Neutrality ACT” to amend the unfavorable law and help uproot Gambia’s criminal ruler by all means necessary. If this is not possible, they should save their grace and future political careers by just joining the works of unity in the pipelines by the youths which have the potential of igniting a popular uprising to boot the tyrant out. By the way that NRMG is transforming, they are not an activist group, but a political party in the making. While the NRMG may be interested in liberating the Gambia no doubt, they also possess leadership interest. By that conflict of interest, they are not the right mediator as a civil society group, especially with the competitions they pose against other existing groups, some of which legitimized themselves by at least being inclusive in their leadership selections.
With this in mind, it is up to the NRMG to heed, or just hang around for falling gray hair. We will go down in history as critics, though in the end, our criticism is sincerely done to help redirect and uplift spirits that share common struggles.
The Struggle continues