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The Genesis of a Problem

Of late, whenever the president and the vice president appear together in public our focus is almost entirely on the body languages and the rapport between the two. This has come to be the norm for the past several months. Public statements have been made where one is perceived to be directing them against the other, sometimes openly so. Even if in private there is a perfect working relationship between the two, it is not healthy that the two are publicly perceived in such a light. Where lies the greater blame? How did we get here? Can it get better?

Regardless of who becomes president at any given time, they will deliver on certain promises, falter on others and be forced to act on others they might have been foot dragging on.

Politicians do not always embark on infrastructural development in fulfillment of their mandate, often times they do so as a means to sell themselves to the public for subsequent re-election bids and to maintain their grip on power. Infrastructure is badly needed in that country and it is a good selling point. But at what cost are we willing to buy it?

We have witnessed the 2 years of the military rule transitioning through to the 1996 elections and the surge in infrastructural development we witnessed within that transition. That period was also punctuated by regular weekly engagements between the president and various cultural and community organizations at State House. When the time came, the first national TV, the university extension program, the numerous roads constructed, etc. were the selling points for Jammeh’s election as president.  While that was going on, the July 22nd Youth Movement was launched to “support the President’s development agenda” only to turn into his campaign caravan mobs and more. These “developments” were the subject of political rallies for the 1996 elections. The rallying cry became “he did these to better our lot, we owe him.” We were told that 30 years of Jawara brought nothing as did the “400 years” of British colonial rule. Does the rhetoric sound familiar?

Part of being in politics is to learn from both the obvious and the not so obvious. When President Barrow launched his youth movement, the first to raise the alarm were members of the United Democratic Party (UDP). The response from the usual suspects is that UDP sounding the alarm is because the youth movement is a threat to UDP’s dominance on the political landscape and Darboe’s presidential ambition. So we are told “UDP’s betrayal of the coalition is coming back to bite them. They created and emboldened Barrow by advising him to shun the MoU.” That is a topic for another day.

But the youth movement dubbed Barrow Youth Movement (BYM) which would later become Barrow Youth for National Development (BYND) was launched. The pioneers were all prominent within the UDP.

It has long been established that the President’s failure is UDP’s alone to own, if the president then chooses a path to that effect and is being challenged on it the UDP is being accused of undermining the president and seeing party before country. The BYND and BYM have somehow morphed into the architects of national development and the bearers of the blessings for The Gambia in the form of the National Development Plan (NDP). Speak out against them and you are against the Barrow presidency or what he is set to bring for The Gambians. That single act is the issue at the center of what many perceive as enmity between the President and his Vice President.

But as we have come to be familiar in the past few months, UDP can never be right in anything no matter how glaring.

Almost two years after its formation, the UDP through its leadership decided to clarify to the UDP delegates at the 2018 congress and indeed the entire country that contrary to claims being made that the BYM and the BYND are not affiliated to the UDP, the President retorted and so started the ‘feud’ with the UDP as the culprit for instigating it.

The people saying VP Darboe is undermining the President by declaring that UDP is not affiliated with the BYND were the same people accusing UDP of reinstating the norms from the past by creating a cult personality around the President in the form of BYM. They were convinced that UDP is behind the creation of the BYM, but when the leadership took the bold step of denouncing the movement the subject turned to undermining the president and the Vice President labeled as chief saboteur.

Where does the President’s responsibility fall into the mix? the buck stops with him, why can’t he fire the Vice President to salvage his much touted “legacy” if he believes the Vice President is undermining his governance efforts? Again, the UDP is in the mix so the President is a victim and the culprit is UDP and Darboe. Instead of calling on the elected official to act as it befits his office, we want to be moral police asking that the Vice President needs to safe his name and legacy. In my personal opinion, I would support his resignation but all the reasons I have for that are personal. I see no evidence of a dereliction of duty on his part.

For those asking that the Vice President should resign to preserve his name, his integrity and his honor, last I checked he was not considered to have any of those by the same people calling for him to do the “honorable” thing. Nothing is more honorable than laying one’s life for a cause one believes in especially as regards general welfare. When Hon. Ousainou Darboe did that in April 2016, soon after his release from prison we hear claims of a selfish sacrifice, that he protested for himself and not the country. Some went out of their way to try to rationalize that claim, so why should we believe today that such people are giving good sincere advise to the man?

Fact is those who hold him in esteem will not be moved by opposing sentiment devoid of truth and logic, and no matter what he does the same is true for those who never held him in any regard; they will never change their views of him since objectivity is in such short supply when it comes to our affairs.

As it obtained under the military dictatorship, Darboe will act when he deems it fit in consultation with his comrades, not sooner and not because that is the popular call from people who never had any regard for him. In the mean time, the President has the power to relief him and if he deems it right, he should.

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