By Pasamba Jow, Coach
On August 19th, 2012, President Jammeh, during his famous “I will eat pork and drink alcohol” meeting with the Banjul Elders and the SIC, threatened to execute all death row prisoners. When Jammeh made the threats, he was applauded by some, because in their minds Jammeh could do no wrong or they felt the threat was necessary to curb violence. Some of the religious leaders in attendance murmured “ Alahu Akabar”, but none had the courage to caution him to not carry out his threats.
Four days later, nine prisoners were unconstitutionally executed. The executions were heard all over the world. The country was horrified by the confirmation that Jammeh had indeed carried out his threats.
Fast forward to May 2nd, 2022, President Adama Barrow in the same setting, threatened one of Gambia’s leading activists, Mr Madi Jobarteh. Like the 2012 murmurs of “ Alahu Akbar”, Barrow too was applauded by his guests, in keeping in the good graces of the President, expressed similar agreement to the threat. Disregarding recent history in The Gambia, our spiritual leaders, and partisan supporters continue to defend President Barrow’s callous threats, and further endorsing it saying he needed to do it much earlier. These same people at the same time suggest that the president’s utterances were not a threat, but an expression of his free speech. Sycophancy continues to threaten democratic gains made in The Gambia.
President Adama Barrow, you must understand that your attempt to emulate “ Jammeh” and his tyranny will never be allowed. Supporters will continue to whisper in your years, “ you need to be more assertive”, but you must understand that those people are more interested in access to the halls of power than your legacy. Lest we forget, the same crowd that applauded your threats against Madi, was the same one that not only applauded Jammeh’s 2012 threats but went on to offer him, Jammeh, religious cover in trying to justify his disdainful act of murdering nine people. Today, Jammeh is in exile and they have found a new patron in you to cheer.
Just like the 2012 executions, Presidents Barrow’s threats have also been heard around the world, and no amount of spinning will change the facts. We will hold President Adama Barrow accountable for anything that happens to Mr Madi Jobarteh, as his threats embolden some of his most ardent supporters.
Unlike Jammeh’s, which can be viewed as erratic, Barrow’s attacks are well calculated and coordinated. Isn’t it coincidental that on April, 25th, 2022, Minister Musa Drammeh’s lawyer wrote a letter to Madi demanding an apology and retraction for an opinion and observations that he made about the government and ministry of Local Govt & Lands, to be specific? On April 26th, the government’s spokesperson, Mr Sankareh lashed out at Madi for what he claimed was a response to Madi’s “attacks” on his person, and bam! on May 2nd, President Barrow decided to use the bully pulpit to intimidate and threaten Madi. One must be naive to believe that this was not a state-sanctioned attempt to silence a critic.
Madi’s only crime is challenging the government on their dealings. The president and his inner circle do not want anyone questioning them, especially about such pertinent issues as government officials deciding to arrogate themselves prime land while most Gambians cannot afford a home, or the illegally operated “ Special security account” with over D669 million unaccounted for while our people continue to needlessly die in our hospitals.
Say whatever you want about Madi but the President or any of his clique can’t point to anything that Madi has said or done about this government that is outside the parameters of the constitution and other laws of the land.
It is quite telling that President Barrow who willfully nominated unrepentant insurrectionists to the positions of Speaker and Deputy Speaker, will accuse anyone of trying to destabilize the country.
To the Gambian people, show me a thin-skinned vindictive “leader” and I will show you a tyrant. And this is what President Barrow has exhibited each time valid criticisms are made about him and his government.
To the newly appointed cabinet, congratulations on your appointments. But in the interest of what binds us all, The Gambia, if you are unable to withstand criticisms from the governed, please do the reasonable thing and resign now. Your position is not a voluntary one. You’re handsomely remunerated, and we expect nothing but excellence.