Please allow me space to respond to Mr Ousainou Mbenga’s ongoing crusade against United Democratic Party in his latest article titled “Gambia: No Agenda Can Remain Hidden Forever. United Democratic Party Hegemony Declared!”.
Mr Mbenga’s ongoing systematic insinuating comments to nefariously attach tribal hegemony or so-called “hidden agenda” to United Democratic Party is not only a disgraceful and unproductive political strategy but it is also a cause for concern for unity of purpose the coalition government envisioned in its formation. Mr Mbenga’s mischaracterisation of the UDP as a political party which has a hidden agenda is the greatest fabrication which will never pass the test of time. After 22 years of trials and tribulations characterised with constant blame games, the citizens and political leaders have finally accepted the truth about brutal dictatorship and compromised to end the untold sufferings. The UDP is a party of selfless people who put the interest of the country first before the personal leadership interest. This has been demonstrated in the leadership and membership’s selfless sacrifices on behalf of Gambian people during the 22 years of military dictatorship punctuated by kidnappings, murders, illegal incarcerations, disappearances and force exile of activists, journalists and politicians. Majority of victims of political oppression and violence are UDP supporters and members. For over 20 years, the party had repeatedly shown to Gambian people that when there is call for national action towards democratic and constitutional rule it would answer to the needs and aspirations of the Gambian people. This was also demonstrated when the party, despite its biggest political influence and support base in the country compromised with small political parties to have an independent presidential candidate to end the economic deterioration, exploitation, corruption and mismanagement as well as horrendous human rights violations by APRC military dictatorship in the last December 2016 Presidential election.
Being a pragmatic party which has its core principle of seeking to govern the country base on unity, the UDP proven the need to always look for compromise and cooperation among our diverse population and opposition parties. This was why Mr Barrow was nominated and elected as the president by broad coalition of supporters from diverse backgrounds. As President, Mr Barrow’s cabinet is truly a reflection of diversity which our country represents. The UDP political dominance and struggles have not been a open secret. The party has no hidden agenda; its mantra has always been hinging on call or responsible citizenship to fight for what was/is morally and constitutionally right. The election of President Adama Barrow who is as diverse as the country itself was a compromise for the sake of unity, prosperity, peace and security of the country. Therefore any suggestion or insinuation from Mr Mbenga that UDP has tribal hegemony or hidden agenda is a dishonest and flawed political strategy with a supreme desire to sow seeds of discord among our diverse populations.
There is no so-called “majority tribe” who have an “absolute power with total disregard for the rest of other tribes” as Mr Mbenga tribalistic rhetorically insinuated. The Mandinka majority support for any political leader will always determine the outcome of politics and direction of our country. This is the fact that Mr Mbenga and those who are insinuating tribal affiliation to UDP must understand. Sir Dawda Jawara and former Dictator Yahya Jammeh were all supported by Mandinka majority during their tenure in office.
Politics is an art of government in which the winner takes the driving seat and drives to the desired direction of the masses. The Gambian masses have decided to give new direction of the country under the leadership of President Barrow. The UDP leadership and members are the biggest supporters among the masses who gave President Barrow a five-year constitutional mandate. Thus UDP has the biggest political influence in this new era. If Mr Mbenga and his cohorts are not happy with this decision, then he has every right to formulate his own political party to seek mandate from the masses he famously claimed to support and advocate for. There is no betrayal of the masses as we speak but only the Job seekers and new self proclaimed victims are making the noise of tribalism and UDP hegemony. The responsible thing Mr Mbenga should do is to engage in positive political contributions and activism which will promote unity, peace and economic empowerment of citizenry. However, Mr Mbenga’s continuous advocacy of insinuating tribalism and scapegoating of neocolonialism as basis for his dissatisfaction with the new administration is unproductive political rhetoric which has been rejected and repudiated by the Gambian people. That was the political style which has been eradicated along with the former Dictator Yahya Jammeh from the territories of The Gambia. The new Gambia’s political activism and strategy calls for compromise and unity among our diverse populations as foundation for economic development, peace and participatory democracy. This is the way forward. There must not be any room for haters who hide behind activism to mix heads together.