COLUMN | Is President Barrow a Change from Jammeh or a Shade of Jammeh?

If there is anything to learn from history about political novices it is this: they love power and, their novice disposition is often their best sword and shield against their opponents whom often underestimate their capacity on everything at every competent level. Benito Mussolini was dubbed a “dumbling buffoon”, Adolf Hitler – dismissed as a “pathetic dunderhead” and these are classic examples of underdogs and very unsophisticated souls who rose to become very powerful figures who did more to shape world history and global geopolitics than anyone before them albeit for all the wrong reasons. Without drawing any horizontal comparison of course, we had our very own Yaya A.J.J Jammeh who typified sophistication and attracted abysmally low opinion of himself from nearly all who ever had the misfortune of interacting with him whether remotely or otherwise. Yet still, he defied all odds and punched way above his weight in terms how he managed to cunningly politically manoeuvre and manipulate his 22 years long power grip and the non-exhaustive list of intellectuals and ‘smarties’ [yes, among them PhD holders] he ruthlessly scuppered on the way up.

President Adama Barrow also widely deemed an unsophisticated character of incompetent quality, has and continues to manifest in his ways and deeds a behaviour pattern which can be said to be very similar if not identical to how Jammeh conducted business. Albeit he may not be as ruthless [yet]:

Keeping Promises

Having been elected into office following an agreement at the heart of which states that:

1. he must serve for only 3 years during which democratic reforms shall be ushered through and subsequent to which elections shall be held; and
2. he must not put himself forward as a candidate at such elections nor offer support to any candidate,

President Barrow has chosen a path which is polar opposite of the agreement which he gave an undertaking to abide by. Of course, Yaya Jammeh isn’t guilty of similar transgression, is he?. Anyone remember the “Soldiers with a difference” [whom with the benefit of hindsight are best remembered as the evil 5] who promised to stay in power for only two years and weed out “nepotism, rampant corruption” and ensure “accountability” and “return to barracks”? This evil 5 among other things not only overstayed the duration of their self invitation, they set a new high for nepotism and rampant corruption and completely diminished accountability.

President Barrow’s renegading on a solemn undertaking [with the help of one Ousainou Darboe] does invite accusations of parity with the A.F.P.R.C as far as u – turns go. This does not inspire confidence, does it?

Self-Mystification & Democratisation of Truth

Jammeh revelled in self – mystification, something tragically exemplified by his infamous HIV / AIDS treatment programme. He was the doctor, the healer, the sheikh, the bridge builder, the person whose mere presence disables the firing mechanism of weapon systems. The jokes and satire of his ways and claims wrote themselves.

If anyone ever thought the departure of Jammeh was the end of self-mystification and democratisation of truth they’re wrong. I certainly would not have been the only one to burst into uncontrollable laughter upon hearing some of the audacious self – mystifying claims being uttered by President Adama Barrow. Apparently, as a rent collector he was a very hot Barrister who represented his clients in rent tribunals and never lost a case; apparently lawyers were scared of facing him in court. President Barrow is this hot on the law but is yet to transfer the portfolio of the Attorney General to his [President’s] office; it is childish fantasy isn’t it? Well he is perhaps not as good as he makes out or at all, or he must take the view that the current office holder is doing a good. Whichever of these apply, it’s credible to extrapolate from them that President Barrow has as much an understanding of the law as his ability to distinguish the word succession from success.

Jammeh did not have a particularly honourable relationship with the truth, had a notoriety in democratising it [the truth]. I am sure you get my drift, if not please check out Jammeh’s version of Sana Sabally’s arrest, apply conventional logic to it and see where that takes you. Fast forward to Adama Barrow, he has convinced himself that he was a millionaire and a successful businessman before being elected President following a campaign which he funded, he audaciously credit his election into office to these. On the contrary, reality suggests that nothing could be further from the truth.

Is there something in our culture or political set-up which attracts interesting characters of untruthful disposition into public life or is there some enigmatic force at the heart of the Presidency which drives a wedge between occupants of the office and truthfulness? Should any past or present occupants of such office wish to engage this question, they certainly are most welcome. And, it will certainly be highly appreciated.

Relationship with Transparency

The minute Jammeh invited himself into office, he became friendly with characters of similar ilk like one Colonel Mummar Al Ghadaffi and subsequently General Sani Abacha. What the nature and boundaries of such relationships were was something shrouded in total secrecy. Ironically, and in comparison, the nature and details of the relationship between President Barrow, Fatoumatta Barrow and her Foundation and Tony Blair, his Foundation and his wife’s firm [Cheryl Blair] is not transparent at all. The latter under Adama Barrow is as much a concern as was the former under Jammeh.

Yaya Jammeh had the infamous Babanding Sissoho with his unexplained wealth and “Allah’s bank”, President has his “anonymous donors”. The two characters (Yaya Jammeh and Adama Barrow) have so much in common in their ways, it won’t be beyond the pale to make the proposition that rather than a change from Jammeh, President Barrow is a shade of Jammeh. Right or not, there exists credible body of substance to support this proposition.

Does the above pattern of similarity in behaviour explain something more revealing e.g the reason why President Barrow retained and re-appointed key figures [some of whom are alleged to have committed heinous atrocities etc.] of the former Jammeh administration? Does it give any indication of a willingness on the part of President Barrow to officially draw the A.P.R.C under his wings under some ‘scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours too’ deal? Only time will tell. I hope I am wrong but, I am deeply suspicious.


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