Michael Scales

(JollofNews) – Being ever the sales and marketing guru, I find the difference in approach of the main protagonists in this “difference of opinion”, fascinating. We have observed for many years how Mr Jammeh, Mai Fatty and Halifa  Sallah  dispense their opinions.

Of course the new kid in the block, President-elect Barrow, is fairly new to all this. But he so far has performed well. He has adopted the less assured strategy of “presuming the sale”. This involves telling the Gambian people (the customer) how he intends to proceed with the customer’s assets when he takes delivery. The customer in this situation tends to agree and so the sale is assured. All he has to do is sign on the dotted line.

Mr Jammeh in the other hand, adopts several different positions as a “man for all seasons”. He is likely to adopt a very fluid position. And when the need is greatest and when all else fails, he will call on the highest authority (God) to further support his muddled view. But don’t be fooled by this, because he always has an end game.

Mai Fatty will beat the drum over and over again, like a barrister making his summation to the jury with same points over and over again so the jury’s mind is focussed of his best defence.

Halifa Sallah is a man who is adept at quoting from the constitution by the relevant chapter and verse to the last finite letter.  Each are competent protagonists, and formidable opponents.

Mr Jammeh reminds me of one of my greatest sales mentors, who would always give the customer three options, but concentrate on the one he wants to succeed, making his other two options seem weak.

First off he conceded defeat, then paused and raised some “faults” with the electoral process, then pulled the rabbit out of the hat to say, we must null the election and then spell out the supreme court road map in the hope of achieving this. In the meantime and through this process, gains time and reinforces his command of his army until the customer gets used to his idea. This is like instilling fear into the customer, that if he does not agree then his business is likely to fail.

But of course this is not a level playing field and each must bring to the table their major assets to resolve this impasse. The opposition is engaging the diplomatic route. It is only Jammeh who is talking war.

Mr Jammeh’s grip on the Gambian Armed Forces  may evaporate if challenged, hence his “declaration of war ”chest thumping  speech is mere bravado. I would presume the army would form a defensive ring but I could not ever be convinced they would stand and fight when the greater powers in Africa and around the world and the Gambian people are against them.

If this bluff turned violent, the amount of combined assets from the Ecowas, would have to meet force with greater force until submission was accomplished. In the meantime, Mr Jammeh and his few loyal commanders would be very quickly  neutralised and hauled off to the ICC. It is always possible that the international community would apply sanctions and asset freeze to slowly strangle this resistance.

This could fall down bringing all of the Gambia to its knees. A blockade would see a mass exodus of Gambians to Senegal. So my guess is this impasse will end sooner than later. Otherwise the 10,000 dead that Mr Jammeh once boasted would be in grave danger of becoming a reality.

Therefore, the international community needs to assemble a significant peace keeping force capable of a swift end to this looming crisis. This is not a game for the faint hearted. So much is at stake. The Gambia being a country that is surrounded on three sides by Senegal has little chance of resisting if engaged from several sides and all at the same time. No army can defend successfully on two or more fronts. Mediation must be robust and backed up with capability.