The year 2016 had proven to be one of the toughest for the United Democratic Party (UDP) activists. This was the year when the ousted Gambian dictator planned to wipe away all his opponents that mattered. He was more than delighted to have jailed youth activists and executive of the UDP. This included Lawyer Ousainou Darboe, the man who had become a thorn in Yahya Jammeh’s flesh.
Before putting a smile on the faces of crying, desperate Gambians in December, 2016 witnessed arbitrary arrest, torture and cold-blooded murder of the UDP members, sparking anger and pain among Gambians who became united in their resolve to unseat the brutal dictator bent on destroying everything good. And the result was a Coalition of opposition parties whose candidate did the unthinkable: defeat a proud dictator who vowed to rule for “a billion years.” The mighty Jammeh was reduced to a helpless citizen. He looked subdued during his televised concession and congratulatory conversation with President Adama Barrow. But many weren’t convinced with Jammeh’s words because “his body language tells a different story.” It would take only a week for Kanilai Mansa to prove the skeptics right. He had eaten his words, annulled the results and declared a state of emergency. Jammeh didn’t stop there; he put on his war gloves. But no one — not even his killer squad Jungular members — was ready to die for him. The world stood with the Gambian people and with the help of ECOWAS leaders, Yahya Jammeh fled into exile, leaving behind a country he claimed to have owned singlehandedly. The exit has allowed Gambians to put together their broken pieces. The country needs a lot of fixing because there is no single sector that has been spared Jammeh’s destruction. Everyone agrees that through a vibrant democracy, the Gambia can get back on its feet, although it may take time. Without elections there is no democracy. But elections are only meaningful when right candidates get elected. Who is a better candidate than the person who endures all for his country: cruel and inhumane torture for the liberation of their oppressed people? Solo Sandeng would have been on the April 6th ballot and won easily if he were alive. The selection of Fatoumatta Jawara and Fakebba Colley as UDP Tactical Alliance Candidates for Tallinding and Kiang West constituencies, respectively, is a sign that our people have started trekking the road to political maturity. We can only thrive as a country when the right people hold public offices. Let’s therefore stop putting square pegs in a round hole. Nomination or election of undeserving candidates is unacceptable in a New Gambia where the central focus is to rebuild a country swinging on the edge.