Njundu Drammeh

Dear Vice President Ousainou Darboe,

History Beckons- To leave a bigger, indelible footprint on the sands of time or To be the man who ruins the hopes and Expectations of his people

If any Gambian has ever been well placed in The Gambia’s recent political history to ensure The Gambia becomes that beacon of hope, bulwark for human rights, citadel against tyranny, dream fulfilled, future worth looking forward to, it is you Hon. AMN Ousainou Dabo, our Vice President.

A look at our party political leaders who have shaped our political history since independence, for good and worst, tells me you are uniquely placed, over and above the other giants. Jawara was party leader and President. He enjoyed this dual position, singly and unopposed, until his ouster in 1994. Yaya was party leader and President. Like his predecessor, he too enjoyed these two positions until his booting out at the Dec 2016 elections. Jawara and Jammeh combined two powers, party and constitutional. They were very powerful, de jure and de facto. To a greater extent, they acted upon; they were not acted upon. Who was there for them to influence, to change the course of events or to take action or make decisions in the interests of the people? The buck stayed on their desks. In fact Jammeh told us he had no adviser.

Unlike Jawara and Jammeh, you are party leader who is not the President. You are the leader of the largest political party in The Gambia. Your party forms the majority in the National Assembly. Your party governs in all the local government authorities except one. To all intents and purposes, it is your political party which is in charge of the government.

This fact “leader of the biggest political party who is not president” is a vantage point, placing you strategically to influence actions, decisions and results in the Greater interest of the whole people. You were “power behind the scene”. Now that you are our Vice President, your power to influence is immeasurable. You are the leader of the party of the President and our Vice President. Yours is a huge mandate and confidence. Your are not just Vice President, you are the principal officer of the President, his chief advisor. Your role is not just to warn, encourage and advise.

History has uniquely placed you to influence the course of our development, to ensure that we are on the right track to our land of Canaan, that cornucopia so promised by the National Development Plan. You are uniquely placed as UDP leader and Vice President to ensure that the national interest and the public weal become the focus of the Government. You are not just Vice President, you are also President in waiting. To serve the whole nation.

There is one responsibility which no man can evade, that responsible is his personal influence. As the party leader from which the President belongs, you have the power and influence to direct our national course of action, to influence decisions and priorities and ensure it is “the People First”. It behooves on you, more than ever, to continue to groom the President to become a greater leader who is path finder, team builder and a gardener, like his political mentor. “The greatest good you can do for another is not just to share your riches, but to reveal to him his own” Benjamin Disraeli

You are in an unenviable position, unenviable in its own way: you are in the position to make or break President Barrow and his legacy. You are in the position to make or break the UDP, to make the UDP greater and bigger or be the party which collapsed under its own weight and influence.

Ousainou Darboe

I don’t know you but your reputation as a human rights defender, an outspoken critic of dictatorship, one of Gambia’s finest constitutional lawyers, a lover of truth and honesty, have preceded you. You have effectively spent every moment of your political life living the cause of Gambian freedom, fighting tyranny and dictatorship, suffering privation and lost of liberty and respect and going to prison. To many of your supporters, “Your Life is your Message”. Thus, I expect nothing from you but efforts towards the strengthening of democracy, good governance, accountability and transparency, respect for the rule of law and human rights, and strengthening of institutions and making the lives of the people better than you found it.

You carry with you a lot of hopes, dreams, expectations and aspirations , of a whole nation and people disappointed and worn out, brutalized and despondent, but optimistic that with you as Vice President, with your commitment, knowledge, experience and drive, their lives would become better, the Government would become much more focussed and responsive and New Gambia would become a dream realised.

You are the hope because you also have the ears and eyes of the President, his numero uno confidante, his party leader and his political godfather. If anyone has huge political influence on President Barrow, it is you. You also carry with you enormous, rather indescribable, responsibility. All eyes are on you. The pages are open and we have started recording. In few years, we would know what role you played, a prop or an obstacle.

I wish you all the best. I don’t envy your position in this cacophony of a political environment we are in but I admire your courage to take up the mantle when you were asked. What is sweeter than to be the power in the background?

May your road be rough.