By Saul Saidykhan
Understandably, many Gambians that are oppose to the Jammeh tyranny are terrified by the prospects of another Yaya Jammeh coup as first reported by the tabloidist Pa Ndery Mbai and later echoed by others. But the news item – if one can call it that, is typical Pa Ndery: it’s chuck full of sensationalism, and light on facts. It’s based mostly on half-truths. Pa Ndery simply can’t help himself when it comes to these sensational stories. A week earlier, he had reported the death of the Paramount Chief of Kombo North, Pa Demba Sanyang, someone I’ve known for over thirty years when he was Sir Dawda’s butler. On reading the sad news through a Facebook friend’s link to Pa Ndery, I immediately called one of my brothers-in law who is a neighbor of the old man in Lameng to check on the family for me and convey my condolences. Imagine my shock when my in- law called back while I was taking a nap and told my wife to tell me that the old man is alive and ok. He has been feeling “a little out of it lately”, but he is alive and speaking!
Let me put this in a nice way: Pa Ndery Mbai is a jerk who has no respect for the most basic journalistic ethos and it’s about time serious people stop patronizing Pa Ndery and taking him seriously!
On the coup, while it is true that there is a small group of nutty opportunists around Jammeh who would rather Jammeh not have conceded the election, they clearly over-value their usefulness to their principal. What is important for every Gambian to understand is as much as he is reluctant to relinquish power, Yaya Jammeh has recognized and now seem to accept that the die is cast for him. Just as the Gambian people have long shown their disdain for him, the international community is finally done with him. And Jammeh knows those scheming in his name are doing so for themselves. Without exception, the rumored coup protagonists are motivated by personal or ethnic nationalist interests. Unfortunately for them, in Yaya Jammeh’s world, only Yaya Jammeh’s primary individual and family interest matter. And Jammeh at this point, is chiefly concerned about he and his family’s physical safety in the immediate, and assurances about their access to the vast material assets he has stashed outside the shores of The Gambia over the past two decades in the future, and the potential of prosecution for some of the horrendous crimes he has committed while he was in office. For him to get any of these privileges or reprieve for the crimes he has committed, he knows he MUST comply with the commitments he has made with current president Buhari and former president Obasanjo of Nigeria, former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and other members of the international community. To the discerning, incoming US president Donald Trump has now entered the picture, none of which can be a good thing for Jammeh at all. Also, pertinent, to drive home its readiness to help Gambians, Senegal – at the prodding of both ECOWAS and the Europeans, has its military on alert to be ready for any eventuality in The Gambia. Further, there are other contingency plans within Gambia itself by Gambians backing the coalition that we wouldn’t go. The key thing to note is that just like we took down Yaya Jammeh despite all his chest pounding and bravado, we’ll defeat his so-called loyalists if they try anything stupid like a coup attempt.
For those doubtful, here are a few clues, the Chief of Defense Staff (CDS) is the younger biological brother of Ensa “Jesus” Badjie, former Inspector General of Police. Ensa Badjie needs no introduction to many Gambians. This was the same man Yaya Jammeh had arrested, beaten so savagely that he openly wept in court and begged the presiding judge in his case to ask the NIA to stop taking him to their offices nightly to torture him in the most inhumane way, and then he was eventually jailed for years all because he confessed to selling drugs worth D600 million Dalasi on behalf of none other than Yaya Jammeh. Anyone can go to YouTube or Facebook and watch short videos of Ensa Badjie dancing and celebrating Jammeh’s downfall. Does anyone really believe Ensa Badjie’s younger brother will ally anyone who has sympathy for Yaya Jammeh? I know both brothers personally, Ousman more than Ensa. As I write this, what used to be the powerful Presidential Guards is now a shell of its past. Most have been transferred to other units around the country. Only a small team made up of completely new members are in Banjul. And all the heavy arms and ammunition that Jammeh stored at State House have now all been moved to Yundum. There’s been a seismic change initiated in the army since the election.
On Jammeh’s home-turf problems, it goes way beyond the Badjie brothers. Just fathom this: in Foni which he has made a “No Go Area” for the coalition, and they consequently couldn’t campaign in, they still received 2,874 votes according to results certified solely by he Yaya Jammeh’s polling agents. That alone speaks volumes! This shows clearly that even in Foni, people are sick and tired of Yaya Jammeh. From information, I’ve received from insiders, all those suspected of being hostile to the new dispensation in the army have since been disarmed.
However, the irony here is, unbeknownst to most Gambians, Yaya Jammeh to his credit formally did ask his army to “stand down” as of last Saturday morning. The story that Pa Ndery Mbai posted suggesting a sinister motive by the Gambian army moving some soldiers from Kaninlai to Banjul was in fact meant to de-escalate tensions and normalize things in the army. All the arms Jammeh moved to Kaninlai shouldn’t have been there to begin with. What Pa Ndery didn’t mentioned in his story is the ammunitions are being moved back as they should be. At this point, as far as Jammeh is concern, the members of the Jola community that bought all that constant ethnic demagogic sing-song distractions of his are fools not worthy of his time to worry about. He took care of himself, and he’s out!
I hear people speculating about Jammeh’s Cassamance backup plan. I believe it’s the Cassa’s who like to delude themselves about such ideas. My question is: does anyone honestly think Yaya Jammeh can live the life of a rebel leader or “hard-timer” again in Cassamance of all places? And where would Madam High Maintenance gold digger be? I mean are we so foolish as to believe such senseless speculation? C’mon!
Yaya Jammeh took some people for a ride despite all the warnings we gave them over the past two decades. Let them get over it. All he wants at this point is how to lay hands on his loot. He doesn’t really care about Cassamance people. My challenge to anyone who doubts this is to name ONE Jola person Yaya Jammeh has enriched in the twenty- two years he has been in power. He gave them jobs mostly in the security services with elaborate titles, but that’s it. Talk about a con man!
Which is why I’ve said it before and I repeat: unless they’re part of Jammeh’s killing machine’s, other Gambians should not blame ANY Jola person for Yaya Jammeh’s madness! One of the greatest giants of our time was a man name Shingle Nyassi who we lost only three years ago. He was Jola, but no one could be more different from Yaya Jammeh. I know we Gambians are a people with very short memories who tend to ignore our quiet giants while adulating shallow noise-makers, but one would like to remind all the role played by uncle Shingle Nyassi in the struggle whose end we’re currently celebrating. Shingle is among the true heroes of the struggle to free Gambia from tyranny!
This is not to suggest that the coast is clear. It’s not. The coalition need to worry about at least two things:
- Issue an alert to ALL banks in the Gambia not to execute any foreign remittance- OUTFLOW requests by Politically Exposed Persons hence (Jammeh, his various company proxies, his party, and party agents, his cabinet members, his business associates, and their families.) The interregnum between now and the inauguration of the new government gives Jammeh and his fellow crooks their final opportunity to steal what is left of the little money our country has. Thankfully, contrary to perception, the coalition DOES NOT have to wait until inauguration to make its position clear to the banks on this issue. By putting the banks on notice, that it would be going through all their financial records thoroughly, the coalition will ensure that the Gambian people’s money isn’t siphoned off quietly by Jammeh and his allies with the complicity of crooked bankers while so many of us are drunk in euphoria. Let the coalition make it clear that the relevant banks will be held to account and sanctioned in any such scenario.
This underlines the genius of the points raised by the erudite jurist Lamin J. Darbo in his latest opinion calling for the expeditious handover of power by Jammeh. Nothing good could come from a delay in Jammeh staying in office. Jammeh is too unscrupulous by nature to be trusted to do the honest thing. And when it comes to money, his Moroccan wife is much worse than him. Unless the banks are told in blunt language that Gambians will be coming to get our money from them if they help anyone steal from us in the next ninety days (a standard window), they’ll do so while feigning ignorance!
- Put the Lands Office on notice to cease issuing Leases forthwith. There’s very little bona fide activity going on there these days.
Gambians should exercise patience on other aspects of the transition. Things will start to pick up speed.