What happens if you have someone in government you want to get rid of, but you are too weak and spineless to sack him? Well, there are certain things you can do to make that person feel unwelcome, low-spirited and miserable enough to prompt him to start looking for another job elsewhere or perhaps resign immediately from the government, in order to escape from his round-the-clock misery and despondency. The metaphor is particularly useful or true when discussing the situation involving President Barrow and his Vice President, Ousainou Darboe, both of whom are now in the habit of playing a cat and mouse game with each other. The modus operandi or formula is a proven management tactic being utilised worldwide by various employers with a good success rate – except that it does appear that Ousainou Darboe could be an exception to the rule, as it seems to me that no amount of government provocation and intimidation, at least for now, can make him jump ship at work of his own volition.
Short of dismissing Darboe at this stage, given the fact that there is lack of unanimity among his (Barrow’s) inner circle of dedicated advisers, President Barrow’s strategy or game plan has been up to now, to treat Darboe as an outcast – a lone wolf in government – isolating him, as far as possible, from other important government activities, unrelated to the functions of the Office of the Vice-President. In sum, President Barrow has been keeping Vice President Darboe at arm’s length by giving him the cold shoulder most of the time. Barrow has, for all intents and purposes, declared Darboe a persona non grata. I am told that Darboe, in every practical sense, is only receiving government information or instructions on “a need to know basis” and in fact any information given to him must also be essential or a prerequisite for him to do his job as VP but nothing else. In short, Darboe is only given government details – in his official capacity as VP – about things he needs to know at the time he needs to know them, and nothing more. He has been snubbed by Barrow; and not only is he frozen out, but he is also being treated with disdain or contempt by some of President Barrow’s hard-line advisers who have been bypassing him even on state matters that do come within the purview of the vice president’s office, as their boss Barrow has now clearly turned his back on VP Darboe despite their public handshakes and photo-shoots.
I have been told that this plan or course of action (of belittling and ostracizing Darboe) is designed to push him up against the wall, in an attempt to provoke him to resign – except that if you are called VP Ousainou Darboe, you do not resign – you instead wait for the sack. Darboe can see the writing on the wall in that he knows his relationship with Barrow is effectively over but he wouldn’t resign. He wants to be fired, as he is not ready to go quietly. He is said to be still clinging onto the hope that there would be an eleventh-hour change of heart from President Barrow, but I think it is like a drowning man trying to clutch at the straw. Facing the possibility that his marriage with Barrow might be coming to an end, a desperate and unhappy Darboe is doing anything and everything possible to stay afloat. Even for the casual observer, the signs are clear that Darboe’s relationship with Barrow is effectively over, and Darboe himself can definitely see it, as he is not stupid. Yet, ironically, he is refusing to accept the handwriting on the wall, so to speak. In effect, Darboe is like a cornered cat – and not only is he ready to fight back to save himself, but his aim, as it were, is also to sink the enemy’s ship, while he is being forced to drown, by inflicting as much damage as possible onto the Barrow government.
The daily humiliations, I am told, have now begun to bite or have some effects – and Darboe therefore decided recently that enough is enough. The slap in the face he has continued to receive from Barrow has been somewhat effective to the extent that he is now a bit confused and angry, as he feels he has lost pride having been publicly dishonoured by Barrow. Consequently, Darboe, reportedly, now has a zero-tolerance policy for the endless derision and disparagement he has been receiving from Barrow. And it is therefore against this background – of his on-going isolation, frustration and humiliations – being perpetrated by President Barrow against his vice president that Ousainou Darboe’s latest rants at the recently held UDP political rally in Kunkujang Keitaya must be situated.
Both men have now reached a point of no return. Yet things cannot go on like this, meaning that the stalemate will have to be broken sooner rather than later. The pressure on both men is now mounting and as such, something has got to give. But who will budge first? Of course, President Barrow will eventually have to upset the applecart so to speak; and when the bubble finally burst, the UDP will definitely be moving into uncharted territory as I already predicted in a previous email. It now seems to me that the current situation is becoming unsustainable and that the crisis is perhaps reaching a tipping point, in that there is now a very limited scope or room for further deterioration of the relationship given the fact that the on-going bad blood between the two men has now begun to paralyse some of the key government activities. In fact, a source close to Team Barrow told me, just the other day, that the standoff or impasse will inevitably have to be broken down sooner rather than later, but he is not saying exactly how that will happen. But one thing is clear. Although Barrow is in the driver’s seat and Darboe is his passenger, Barrow still be reminded that Darboe, the ‘drowning man’, is going to be like a wounded animal, in that he will be fighting for his last breath so to speak. Darboe reportedly told friends and well-wishers that Barrow will live to regret it if he were to betray him. Time will tell if and how far his seeds or predictions will bear fruit.
By Ebrima Ceesay, UK