By Lamin Gano
While trying very hard to stay focused on revising my 22 reasons for Jammeh not to run for a fifth term, I can’t help being bombarded with and distracted by questions. For example is it not hypocritical of me to call Jammeh my godfather, flash his pictures all over my blog and promise to be his post-president security officer while at the same time calling on him to quit? Why am I challenging him now and not earlier? And what is my position on the “struggle”. In this blog post, I will seek to answer these questions starting with why Jammeh is my godfather.
A few months after I was appointed as the ADC to President Jammeh, we were in Kanilai when one of his orderlies called me aside and told me that a senior officer was briefing Jammeh on me and the officer said that the only security lapse on my part is that I abandon my duties to go to the mosque during prayer times. The orderly then advised me to skip my prayers during duties and to stick with the group at all times. The response I gave to him is too profane to repeat on this medium.
Anyway, a few weeks after that, I was in the State House mosque for prayers when a soldier notified me that I was called by President Jammeh so I went straight into his office. When he asked me why I entered his office in slippers, I told him that I was coming from the mosque. Jammeh then said to me: “well, there is only one thing that will not disappoint you in this world and in the next and that is your prayers” and he advised me never to compromise my prayers. Although I had already pledged to put my life on the line for him, that was the day Jammeh won my total respect and loyalty and those feelings are intact up to today.
However, in spite of my person feelings of loyalty, admiration and respect for Jammeh, I sincerely believe that democracy and limited presidential term limits is important for peace, security, unity and development for the Gambia and all other African countries. In this regards, my position is that, Jammeh has over-stayed in power and needs to give way for a new dispensation.
For those who view such a position as hypocrisy or sitting on the fence, do you sincerely want to tell me that you have never disagreed and stood up against someone that you care for and respect such as your parent, sibling, spouse, boss, neighbor or friend etc?
Another question I am asked is why am I challenging Jammeh now and not earlier such as prior to the 2011 presidential elections. The answer to that question is very obvious. At that time, I was an officer of the Gambia Armed Forces and a disciplined and professional soldier does not call on his commander-in-chief to step down from office. In which Armed Forces in the world would you find a soldier on active service blogging on national politics? That is a privilege only for civilians and as a private citizen, I chose to exercise my right to freedom of thought and expression through blogging.
Perhaps the most critical question I am being asked is whether or not I am a member of the “struggle”. That really depends on the meaning of the term “struggle” and its modus operandi. If being a member simply means “a person who desires political change in the Gambia” and the modus operandi is based on the principles of peace, security, decorum, the rule of law and democracy, then I am a full-fledged member. If however, the conditions for membership to the “struggle” is to sling mud at each other and to throw profanities, criticisms and allegations at Jammeh and at our national institutions, then I am not a member of the struggle.
Whether we accept it or not, there are thousands and thousands of Gambians like me who have no anger or hatred against Jammeh and his governing institutions but who do not like the existing state of affairs in our country and are determined to actively participate in bringing about a positive change. For anyone to claim that it is either their way or the highway is being undemocratic and resentful of the principles of diversity and inclusion which is a bedrock of Western Societies in which a significant number of our compatriots are residing in peace and dignity. After all, The Gambia, like all societies in the world, is composed of people with divergent views, experiences and ways of doing things. We will therefore make a rapid progress towards our common destiny if we learn to accept and respect our diversities and differences in opinion and actions.
In conclusion, I took up blogging as my preferred method to add my little voice to the discourse on contemporary issues affecting the Gambia especially in this important year of presidential elections. I believe that the Gambia is at a very important political cross-road and that 2016 is the year of change for the Gambia because that is what the majority of the Gambians want and I am optimistic that we will achieve that through the ballot box.
Furthermore, I also believe with total conviction that the majority of Gambians are a happy, peaceful, forgiving and God-fearing people and these attributes will overcome any disappointments, rancor, frustrations or anger that they may have against the Second Republic. Therefore, the only blood that will be spilled on Gambian soil in December 2016 is that of livestock and cattle as we celebrate the advent of a new government.
Long love the Republic of The Gambia and long live our peace, security and harmonious co-existence. Together, we can make Gambia smile better!!!!