Never Go To Bed With A Dictator, Lessons For Barrow

Hatab Fadera

The saying that dictators will never change is constantly being manifested by Yahya Jammeh. That is because all dictators share similar traits – corrupted souls, sadistic tendencies, lack of empathy, and an insatiable taste for power, wealth and dominance.

At a mere phone call, Jammeh, a political fugitive, summarily dethroned a war-hardened APRC National Executive, who for the past five years, beat his drum of supremacy (Supreme Leader) and quest for his amnesty. Let’s be clear: Fabakary Tombong Jatta and his team have contributed in allowing impunity to be entrenched in this country. Even the harrowing revelations from the TRRC and the J Commissiom documented heist of Jammeh, did not move this executive. For them Jammeh was a demigod.

But back to the issue. Fabakary, visibly struggling with ill-health, guided his team in pushing for Jammeh’s interest, along the way being littered with all the dirts (and deservedly so) that came out of the EG lone man’s 22-year rule of decadence. They sang his praise, danced his tunes, and invested colossal resources to remaking his irreparable battered image and repute. Dodou Jah must be bitting his tongue for that young man did an excellent but fruitless and causeless job in defending APRC and Jammeh.

Yet, the dictator came straight on point, effectively staging a coup and handing down a political verdict that reaffirmed him the “Supreme Leader” and “Flagbearer” ( Fodeh Baldeh will argue it’s standard bearer) of his party. The traits for a dictator’s insatiable taste for power and dominance are demonstrated here.

For months, Jammeh joyfully and selfishly played his cards well, allowing his ardent loyalists to engage in a dirty political war over where his stance was vis-a-vis the alliance with Barrow’s NPP.

How Jammeh played his card in this has been dramatic. First, he gave a tacit endorsement of this unholy APRC-NPP political marriage by deciding to stay mute. By doing so, Jammeh gave a firm node to the Tombong Jatta-led camp that he was okay with the arrangements. This allowed him time to weigh the pros and cons of the deal, especially the genuiness of the Barrow camp.

Fabakary Tombong Jatta of APRC and NPP’s Adama Barrow

While keeping that card, Jammeh engaged himself in discreet communication with the rival “No Alliance Movement” (NAM), giving them the impression that he didn’t sanction the alliance and will speak close to the elections. By watching the two camps locked horns, the sadist was buying himself time to make up his mind.

Fast-forward to the recent supposedly Meet the Farmers Tour (Barrow has since mastered Jammeh’s art in turning it into a political wastage), Jammeh must have seen that as an opportunity to make up his mind. With Barrow falling short on what actually would happen to Jammeh and occasionally referring to his reign as a dictatorship in his addresses, that must have been the red line for the butcher. Keep in mind that Barrow recently told reporters that he alone would not deliver amnesty to Jammeh. All of these inconsistencies, plus Barrow’s bad reputation of keeping his promises (“When you are campaigning you can say whatever you want”), Jammeh must have concluded that it would be a political suicide to climb the same “kaaba tree” with Barrow, an unsophisticated and untrustworthy political liability.

But I had cautioned Barrow when he formed the alliance with Jammeh. I mentioned that had Barrow adhered to the simplest demands of Gambians – give us a progressive constitution, reform and strengthen democratic institutions, pursue unconditional justice for the victims etc – he would have made his re-election easier. When Gambians voted him in 2016, they had hoped for a new path without Jammeh, a modest and vibrant democratic dispensation where justice will be vigorously and relentlessly pursued for the victims. By going to bed with a dictator, Barrow has only himself to blame. I hope he learns from this. Too much is too bad. Lessons learnt.

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