Human Rights Opinion

President Barrow on Madi Jobarteh – Whither the ‘Never Again” Mantra?

D.A Jawo

President Adama Barrow has no doubt gained quite a lot of experience during his past five years in office. He is certainly no longer the rookie head of state that he was when he newly assumed office in 2017, but some of his recent statements and utterances seem to indicate that he has still got a long way to go before becoming the perfect leader that we all wish him to be. There is no doubt that many people, including some of his own supporters, were disappointed by his unnecessary rantings against Madi Jobarteh in particular and the other perceived opponents of his regime during his traditional meeting with the Banjul Muslim Elders on Koriteh day.

It was certainly out of place and context for him to single out Madi Jobarteh for special criticism, even to the extent of threatening that his government was going to deal with him. I think that was quite an unfortunate statement from President Barrow and it is likely to come back to haunt his regime in the future. Therefore, instead of being cowed by such threats, it is likely that Madi Jobarteh is basking in glory for being singled out by President Barrow, which has not only suddenly made him a centre of national and international attraction, but the statement has also got the potential of making him the rallying point of opposition to the Barrow regime. Certainly, threatening to deal with Madi could boomerang on President Barrow and the regime as henceforth any harm caused to Madi could be attributed to the regime. It was therefore not a wise decision for President Barrow to make such threats.

While he may not harbour any wish to cause any harm to Madi or any of the regime’s perceived critics, but what would prevent an opponent of the regime, with ill intentions, seeking to harm Madi, knowing fully well that whatever happens to him henceforth could be attributed to President Barrow and his government. As head of state, President Barrow is no longer any ordinary Gambian who can make unguarded statements at any time and anywhere and get away with it.

He should always weigh every word that he utters as it could have some unpredictable consequences. Even the very fact that these threats against Madi came just a few days after the Minister of Lands and Regional Governments Musa Drammeh had threatened to sue Madi for criticisms he had leveled against him (Drammeh) seems to indicate some apparent official conspiracy against Madi, and probably a much wider conspiracy to ‘open call’ critics of the regime into submission.

President Barrow and members of his administration need to face reality and accept the fact that this is a different Gambia from the one that they inherited from former President Yahya Jammeh. Gambians have regained their freedom after living under a dictatorship for over two decades and therefore, they would never again allow anyone to return them to those dark days when the head of state would behave like a lord over them and do whatever he wanted without any consequences. Just like the TRRC mantra said; “Never Again” and the sooner President Barrow and his administration accept that reality, the better for everyone.

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