By: Kingsley Okeke
In what can be described as the “Miracle of Banjul,” The incumbent president of Gambia, Yahya Jammeh, in a rather unusual display of statesmanship, conceded defeat to the opposition candidate, Mr. Adama Barrow, in the recently concluded presidential elections.
Mr. Jammeh, who had ruled the tiny West African Country for 22 years, was defeated by Mr. Barrow – a property developer, and product of a coalition of opposition political parties in The Gambia. The Coalition of 8 political parties in the country, was a first – akin to Nigeria’s All Progressive Congress, APC, which similarly saw to the ouster of the then President Goodluck Jonathan and ended the sixteen years reign of the country’s largest political party, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
Jammeh’s defeat had been long foretold. The 51 years old former army lieutenant, started off on a very good note and was loved by all who saw him as the messiah. Things took a dramatic turn when he gradually began to isolate himself from major world institutions who had started expressing concern over his growing dictatorial tendencies and were pushing for reforms in the country. In 2013, he withdrew the country’s membership of the Commonwealth and only recently announced his intention to exit the International Criminal Court, a move many analysts have said would be reversed by the President-elect.
While the video of Mr. Jammeh’s “concession call” have been trending and garnering staggering hits online, not many knew the backstage politics and intrigues that preceded the call.
An impeccable source, who prefers not to be named, told this reporter that, Mr. Jammeh had deliberately shut out the world because he never planned to concede defeat, even though it was clear before the elections, that he does not have the support of the masses.
“Like I told you before the election, Mr. Jammeh was in a fix, he became a prisoner of his own sins. He was very broke and you know election requires funds. the donors were no longer giving him money and worst of all, the masses saw through his lies and were no longer ready to keep him as president.”
Our source who served as a diplomat under Jammeh maintained that “it was clear from the outset that he would lose this particular election, but what was not certain, was if he would accept the result of the polls.”
“While a number of people might be speculating that his concession was as a result of the pressure from the international community, it is far from it, because, we know Jammeh, he would never buckle under pressure from international community.”
“I can tell you authoritatively that the president, was forced to make the call. The Chief of Defence Staff, Lieutenant General Ousman Bargie, had to persuade the president, a discussion which lasted for about two hours due to his initial resistance. The CDS told him in clear terms that he was alone and no member of the armed forces was willing to kill any Gambian on the account of his obsession with power. He also told him that the most honorable thing to do was to accept the result and put the call across.”
This is no doubt the end of an era. Mr. Jammeh Known for walking around with his trademark prayer beads, a sword, and a stick, comes from a lineage of traditional medicine practitioners. His father was reputed to be one of the foremost bone doctors in Gambia, known for his special gift of healing all manner of bone related fractures, using traditional medicine. Mr. Jammeh is said to be one of the world’s most eccentric and ruthless leaders.
Born in May 1965, he came to power in 1994 as a 29-year-old army lieutenant. He had on several occasions boasted of his ability to heal numerous diseases, including HIV/AIDS, a claim World Health Organization have debunked. In the country, his claim to possess the special gift of healing gained traction, until some of the celebrated cases of supposed healing began to die of the same ailments.
Source: African leadership magazine