Njundu Drammeh

(JollofNews) – There is near unanimity that Yaya Jammeh was a tyrant and a very divisive, corrupt leader too. At least current investigations tell us he in deed was. That is not news worthy. What is baffling to me, however, is our fiery, combatant attempt at exonerating his cabal or coterie, men and women who pushed ahead his agenda without qualms or pangs of remorse and often time more vociferously than Jammeh himself.

Jammeh is our devil, evil incarnate or personified. His associates and men and women in his corridors of power were saints; they didn’t do any wrong; they didn’t commit any wrong. So long as you do not have blood on your hands, like the notorious Junglars, you are fine. That wouldn’t cut with me. It just won’t. May be with you.

Jammeh was the Executive. But he had policy makers who helped to craft and direct the implementation of his policies and programmes. We have heard Ministers and Permanent Secretaries and military and police chiefs gave the most “ridiculous” outstanding rating to Jammeh’s policies and “development” in health, education, fiscal management, security, humanitarian work and philanthropic efforts, etc.

“We have the best health care system in Africa”; “Our education system is second to none in Africa”; “Our economy is growing faster” are some of the statements we have heard from our policy makers. These statements weren’t uttered through coercion; they were made of their volition, to pander to the whims and caprices of Jammeh, to win some favours and malign others. Can we exonerate all of Jammeh Ministers, Permanent Secretaries and other policy makers from the sins that are Jammeh’s, as mere pawns on Jammeh’s chessboard, blameless and powerless? How can we?

Members of the legislature enacted laws which gave legitimacy to the Jammeh policies and wrong doings. We saw our legislators strenuously defend Jammeh and his way of ruling. But they are the saints and Jammeh the evil…. And when Jammeh declared his State of Emergency, we all saw how the majority APRC legislators swiftly passed it into law. All except the minority leader endorsed it with a grin.

Our Ambassadors were the extensions of the State and therefore of Jammeh, his lengthened international shadow. They sold his image to the international community. Some rebranded him as the best son of the Continent while others fiercely defended both his domestic policies and his persona even though they knew the contrary to be true. At the UN, AU and other fora, they exalted him and his domestic policies but we can exonerate them for they were “acting on orders; just doing their duties “.

And our judiciary, men and women in black robes and with the scales in hand, they interpreted the laws as they were. They made rulings which baffled even the most ignorant of the laws….. The courts which denied bail to Darboe and co swiftly gave one when Jammeh was banished. But yes, the men and women blindfolded and with the scales in hand had no part in the Jammeh mess. Saints all of them.

“Who you are, is who you attract” averred J.C Maxwell. How true! Jammeh cannot be evil but attracted saints. No way. Any one who worked with Jammeh, as part of his inner circle or senior policy Maker, must have some shared values or principles or thoughts with him; must have shared something in common with him. Otherwise how can we explain the longevity of some of the relationships these men and women had with Jammeh?

How were they able to advice and give direction to some of the Jammeh policies and directives which were out of sync with all democratic tenets and with the Constitution when their value system are diametrically opposite? Yaya definitely attracted his likes only. Birds of the same or similar feathers often flock together. Men and women who held different values and principles from Jammeh gave him a wide berth.

There are men and women who, by their proximity to Jammeh and the nature of power they wield, were the cat’s paws, or at least allowed themselves to be. We cannot just absolve them of blame in the 22 years of Jammeh tyranny. We cannot cast Yaya alone as the devil and the rest of his cabal and decision and policy makers as “saints”. We should urge them to man and woman up and take responsibility for the parts they played, what they did or did not do.

Former President Jammeh with his cabinet

These men and women had choices, to serve or to disengage, to remain or to resign. Most of them chose to serve as if service to country was a zero sum game, as if those policies and decisions were made in vacuums, devoid of the stamp and influence of Yaya. They are, in my mind, just as guilty even if to a lesser degree. One doesn’t have to have blood on one’s hands to be culpable. For me, it is enough to be culpable if one birthed the idea or gave approval or support when it was hatched or gave directive for their implementation. A person who insisted on the implementation or enforcement of a directive from Jammeh, knowing its illegality, is as guilty.

We should tell the guys to man up and take responsibility for the mess that was Jammeh. We should not find excuses for them; we should not put them up as the saints. They contributed to the creation of the Frankenstein monster. They served as his foot soldiers. Uncle Sidat Jobe resigned his post as Foreign minister when he realised he and Jammeh had parted ways in values. The minority leader in the past parliament defied and opposed the state of Emergency. Hons. Kemeseng Jammeh, Hamat Bah, Sedia Jatta et al exhibited great statesmanship when they were in parliament. Lawyer Daniel and co challenged bad laws in the Supreme Court. We know the story of men and women who gracefully declined some high political or administrative posts. All these people took action at great personal costs. They had other choices though. They decided to remain true to their values and principles.

In this new dispensation, devoid of brute and coercion, I expect to see many resignations before its term expires. I expect to see men and women in the higher echelons resign their posts if they feel an irreconcilable clash of values, principles, work ethics, vision between theirs and the Barrow Government; if they feel a certain derogation from the original intent; if they feel there is a subversion of the will of the people; if they can no longer lead according to the principles and values of the Barrow Government; if they no longer believe in Barrow. I expect our policy makers to man up and take responsibility if things go wrong on their parts and not blame Barrow or someone else. It would be wrong to serve a Government whose core values, principles and vision one doesn’t share or support.

And yes, even I must resign my post the day my personal values are in conflict with my institutional values. I cannot promote child abuse when my organisation is dead against it. In the same vein, I don’t expect her to promote or implement an illegality or coerce subordinate to implement the same and turn around and I murmur “my hands are tied”.

The devil too has his associate and they are as culpable, even to a lesser degree. They are culpable or blameworthy nonetheless.