After the President appeared in an interview with journalists at the airport stating that his relationship with the Vice President is “very, very normal…”, some took to social media visibly angry that the President only had that much to say. Some called him names for; in their opinion, cowering before the UDP.
When the President made a cabinet reshuffle back in June 2018 and reassigned the Vice President to his current position from his previously held position as minister of Foreign Affairs, he was lauded for “demoting” the man into a less influential position. They claimed that the Vice Presidency is merely a designation with no influence; the president is clearly trying to contain him as a potential rival while he builds a base for his own self-succession. Being Foreign Minister, Mr. Darboe could have gained more influence for his party but now that is curtailed, the UDP is systematically being weakened to favor Barrow over Darboe as the next president. These were some of the reactions in response to the President reassigning Mr. Darboe.
Then the UDP National Congress happened! Those trumpeting the claim that the party is divided were presented with evidence to the contrary. Not only that, those within the UDP who were openly cavorting with the President Barrow Youth Movement (BYM) claiming it is still the same UDP were sent a clear message that divisions within the party and underhand maneuverings to undermine the long held internal democratic processes will not be tolerated. In addition, such party members were surgically removed from the party’s national executive.
Being that the President has openly endorsed and is backing the BYM; the usual suspects saw this as a direct revolt against the President and therefore prayed he would fire his Vice President “for the sake of country”. We know such expectations are not being expressed because the country will gain from such a move but because they believe the President firing Mr. Darboe will humiliate the Vice President, who also doubles as leader of the largest political party in The Gambia; a plus for their political score board.
Well, Mr. Darboe has passed the stage where he can be humiliated or brought into disrepute in The Gambia. The only person, who can humiliate Hon. Ousainou A.N.M Darboe in The Gambia, is Hon. Ousainou A.N.M Darboe himself. But if you have been watching the man closely, you’d know he is not so inclined as to bring himself into disrepute. There comes a moment in each of our lives when we make a decision that will elevate or diminish our status in the eyes of those who look up to us. One act, that if done will overshadow everything past and most things to come. In April 2016 Lawyer Darboe made that decision and won the admiration of not just those who look up to him as a leader or parent but fellow citizens and non-citizens alike; the world over. What will it take to undo that? I am not sure but being relieved of a government position based the President’s whim is not enough, that will just add to his accolades.
In an earlier post I stated that the President firing Mr. Darboe is a better option for the President than having Mr. Darboe resign. The truth is H.E. Adama Barrow is the President, the Chief Executive Officer. Everyone who serves in his government serves at his pleasure; meaning he can hire and fire whomever he chooses, why should Mr. Darboe be an exception to that?
What I would hope he does, as should any objective person; is that the President makes such decisions based on objective reasoning, not based on emotions or whimsically. Yes, Mr. Darboe has a lot of political clout and his firing will have political implications but that does not change the fact that the President is his boss, whom he gladly serves to help steer the country forward.
So, question then is what is he found wanting in to warrant his firing? Because he is serving his party is not enough, there has to be a clear evidence of a conflict between him serving as a Vice President and being the party Leader of the UDP. If such conflict is established then by all means he needs to go, country comes first. But is there any such evidence? His political undertakings outside of government affairs should have no implications for an independent transitional president.
When he served as Foreign Affairs Minister, he served well while still remaining as party leader. To a large extent, he became the living face of the struggle to restore democracy in The Gambia, our version of a Mandela. As Foreign Minister, he was received around the world as the man who led the political struggle against tyranny, so if he is going around the world requesting that The Gambia be welcome back into the comity of nations with promises of nurturing their shared values of democratic governance, the world had no reason to doubt his sincerity and commitment to that ideal. Thanks largely to that larger than life persona he carried with him, we, as a country sailed smoothly back into the fold of respectable nations. He delivered.
He had every excuse to not serve in Barrow’s government but he did because he answered a calling to stand by and help Barrow succeed. Late Femi Peters, Lang Marong and others who served jail time alongside Darboe died shortly after their release. We all saw their physical condition as they all emerged from the horrid Mile II. He could have easily asked to be excused while he tended to his health, which would have been a genuine and valid request. But, wouldn’t that in fact be interpreted in some quarters as him being envious and not humble enough to serve under President Barrow?
President Barrow knew VP Darboe long before his ascendancy to power, worked alongside him touring the length and breadth of the country. Stepped up and stepped in Darboe’s shoes when the latter was incarcerated just so the party he dedicated a lot of his life and resources to would carry on the fight. If he decides to let go of him now for no justifiable or public reason, how will that be perceived? Just think about that for a second. Other than the usual suspects, no one will see that as making a dent on Darboe’s character or political career.
Again, objectively if Barrow thinks Darboe no longer serves his interests (which hopefully are aligned with the country’s interests) then by all means he should be relieved. After all there were other leaders of political parties who were relieved of their positions in government. In as much as they, as well as us all deserve to know, no one will say they have been humiliated. They served us well and left in grace.
So President Barrow can act on emotion or be reasonable and objective by refusing to be swayed by sentiment and guided only by facts and clear objective assessment of Mr. Darboe’s performance and anyone serving in his administration for that matter.