Gambian opposition in general are good at creating or generaring political momentum but their problem lies in sustaining it. The main opposition United Democratic Party (UDP) is no exception here. The truth is that even the party’s ambitious, able-bodied and energy-filled youths complain about this waekness. They keep wondering when shall there be cure to this disease, which if left ubtreated, could derail the goal of unseating Dictator Yahya Jammeh in 2016.
Hear the query of a particular opposition youth leader. “For my party to spice up the already built momentum, the youth wing must be involved in high level decision making processes. We’ll then take the political fight to the doorstep of Jammeh and his ruling APRC [Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction]. Of course, this doesn’t mean taking up arms. No, all we will do is to campaign tactically in a bid to win the hearts and minds of Gambian electorate.”
We agree with the youth leader that maintaining the momentum is a perfect winning strategy, as it keeps voters engaged. Voters are like radio or tv audience who keep switching, in search of what their desires. They usually stay where there is plenty of activities which gives them sense of belonging and high level of attachment.
A Brikama UDP youth coordinator spoke the plain truth when he said “Jammeh can fool some people sometimes, but he cannot fool all the people all the time. For twenty-one years he has been fooling us with his gifts, knowing fully these cannot address our current economic problems.” He was specifically driving home the precarious situation of Kafuta, a village whose residents were in the past known for owning model vegetable gardens. Kadutans have had their inherited vegetable lands seized by forced only to be handed over to foreigners. With nothing left, they now till the land for foreigners in return for low wage agricultural jobs. And to add salt to injury, they lack job security.
Clearly, the Gambian opposition appears to be sitting on a gold mine. What is more soothing than knowing your enemy’s weak points? President Jammeh’s land grabbing spree – either for personal use or for his so-called magnanimity purpose – needs to make huge talking point. This is happening in a country where land for agricultural purpose is limited as evidenced by backlog of court cases to that effect.
The goal of the opposition here is to perfectly define the man who made us believed that he was a Saint in July 1994, only for us to realise that he is nothing but a pathological liar and betrayer. The election will be won or lost depending on how much efforts have been done to expose Jammeh’s uncountable mismatches or contradictions.
For the opposition to remain in the limelight, there should be conscious plan and efforts to engage and feed the minds of the electorate long before the election battle lines are drawn. There are many ways to engage the voters, in particular, those at the grassroots kevel. Let the opposition remember that the communities that turn their back on Jammeh for either bullying them or grabbing their lands are now looking up to the opposition for salvation. But gone are the days when food descended from the Heaven.
Yes, you are right in recognizing the need for sustaining the momentum/(assault) by the opposition parties; but don’t you think it takes material (particularly financial) resources to achieve that goal considering the limited resources they have on the ground? If your response is in affirmative then you should have gone further in your article to oblige the committed citizens to invest in the opposition parties, particularly from the diaspora.
It is very easy to criticize the opposition for not doing this or that, but we need to be equally asking ourselves what we are doing to maintain their political visibility on the ground. In this regard I am urging every body in the diaspora to give regular material/financial support to an opposition party of their choice.
Thank you Alkali, this is why I always pledge financial contribution after appreciating the efforts of the opposition parties on the ground specially the UDP relentless efforts in sensitizing the electorate.
It take resources to run a political party, this is a fact.
For those voters receiving rice oil and money from Jammeh please take them and understand it is your money and taxes and make sure when it is time to vote, then go vote for the opposition candidates. This was done successfuly with Abdoulaye Wade in Senegal in 2012.
I like your objectivity and realism, Mr. Hydara. You see, most of us (particularly in the diaspora, myself included) find it very convenient to criticize the opposition for not doing this or that without acknowledging the hostile terrain they are operating on. We do not even give them credit for their efforts, however marginal these may be. In fact we go further to dismiss them as senile and ineffectual.
There are two very important contributions a political party needs in order to stay alive;
i). Votes, Votes, Votes.
ii). Financial/Material Resources.
The rest can come after.