My Dear President and Godfather,
(JollofNews) – When I heard the announcement that you were to embark on a country-wide tour this week, I prayed and hope that you were going to bid farewell to the Gambian people, announce that you will not contest for another term in office, repeal all the controversial electoral laws, release Lawyer Darboe together with all other political detainees/prisoners, preside over a free, fair and peaceful presidential elections in December, and then hand over power to whoever Gambians choose.
However, my expectation, and I believe the expectation of the majority of Gambians were dashed by your speech in Farafenni where you threatened innocent Gambians with more violence instead of using words of peace and reconciliation. Everything you have, Mr. President, is gained through the name of the Gambian people so the least they deserve from you is gratitude and respect.
Mr. President, actions speaks louder than words. So while your words may sound confident and defiant, your actions clearly illustrate an overwhelming sense of stress, uncertainty, suspicion and fear. The sight of soldiers engulfing you and clinging onto your vehicle like bats while you struggle under the heavy weight of what seems like a bullet-proof vest and a load of jujus/charms under that immaculate white gown of yours is a clear sign of insecurity and vulnerability. It is only people who are expecting a bullet or a grenade that will go to this level of protecting themselves.
Mr. President, do you really believe that you are a tougher and a better leader than Al Maummar Ghaddaffi of Libya or Joao Bernado Nino Vieira of Guinea Bissau or Francisco Macías Nguema of Equatorial Guinea or Samuel Doe of Liberia who were all mercilessly killed while clinging on to power? Can’t you learn from the fates of Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, Charles Taylor of Liberia, Hissene Habre of Chad, and Laurent Gbagbo of Ivory Coast who were all dragged from their offices to courts?
How about the long list of African Presidents who ended up as refugees after being booted out of office? Idi Amin of Uganda fled to Saudi Arabia; Hastings Banda of Malawi to South Africa; Siad Barry who ruled Somalia for 22 years like you fled to and died in Nigeria; Mobutu Sese Seko, who ruled Congo for 32 years ended up in Morocco; Zine El Abinie Ben Ali of Tunisia was recently kicked out by his own people ran to Saudi Arabia after being denied entry to France; and Blaise Campaore of Burkina Faso who had to scramble for the Burkinabe/Ivorian border like a Sarahulleh hustler as he fled from the wrath of his people after being in power for 27 years.
A common denominator that all these leaders share with you is that they either over-stayed in power or they tried to cling on to power against the will of the majority of their people. And in spite of having access to the same means of security and protection like you including the best-trained security personnel, the best of weaponry, bullet-proof cars/vests and even the best of marabouts, black magic/voodoo/charms or jujus, they still ended up badly. What makes you believe that you are exceptional Mr. President?
Mr. President, you have long over-stayed your welcome in power and the majority of Gambians really want you to see your back. Any single day you continue to stay in office will only increase the threat to your own personal security as well as the difficulty of the situation of our country and people.
The good thing is that there is still a peaceful and positive way out of this predicament for all of us. Please follow the footsteps of Jerry Rawlins of Ghana and make a declaration that you will not run for reelection in December. No one forced you to come to power on 22 July 1994 and so no one will stop you from leaving. Please save yourself Mr. President and exit power in a peaceful and honourable way while there is still that option. Do not under-estimate the kind, religious and forgiving nature of the Gambian people. That is why we are known as the Smiling Coast of Africa.
Long live the Republic of the Gambia and long live our peaceful co-existence!!!!
The author is a former Lt Colonel in the Gambian Armed Forces. You can follow his blog at www.lamingano.com