By Sainey Darboe, Standard Newspaper
Former Vice President and Finance Minister, Bakary B Dabo, has dismissed as “mischaracterization” allegations that he betrayed Jawara by serving as Finance Minister under Jammeh.
In an interview with former Standard editor from his base in London, Mr Dabo elucidated:
“Well, ‘betraying Jawara’ is a mischaracterisation, likely arising out of a misunderstanding of the relevant issues and the circumstances that prevailed at the time. We must remember that at the material time, our country and helpless people stood on the precipice of what those with the right level of awareness saw as potential disaster. At the time I saw the prospect of military rule as a recipe for catastrophe for our fragile country and poorly mobilised society. My personal experience of military rule in several parts of West Africa, with associated pervasive mistreatment of defenceless citizenry was fresh in my mind.
“Of course, events were to show that even that experience could not have prepared me for what our people were to encounter under our own ‘soldiers with a difference’, I knew Sir Dawda too at the time harboured similarly grave misgivings over the turn of events. Like me, and like some other Gambians too, he felt at the time that the greatest danger our country courted was for military rule to take root. For both of us, anything that could be done to undo the coup, or to at least make military rule last the shortest possible life span, was viewed as worthwhile”.
He added: “My acceptance of the invitation to take up office under the junta was no more than a desperate attempt to spare our country from such a fate, when all other attempts at the time had proved fruitless.
Furthermore, I set out and proceeded on the basis of a clear agenda to devote what influence I could muster from within to work for the earliest possible exit of the military from our public life in order to limit or contain potential, indeed likely, damage in order to spare our country from precisely became our plight. Prospects for our country looked gloomy; I saw our situation as desperate and did not hesitate to try what I saw as possible option thrown up, however slight the chances, after securing pertinent assurances from the junta. The issue was never perceived in terms of whether the move represented loyalty to, or betrayal of, the person of Jawara or any other individual, for that matter”.
Mr Dabo added that the actions he took were not fundamentally different from the approach of then deposed president Jawara, saying: “Sir Dawda did not at the time advocate or pursue any other option incompatible with the approach I tried. In the event, the junta lost little time in displaying insincerity and bad faith over the assurances given and, once I sensed there was no chance of success for my agenda, I saw no point in continuing my association with the junta, hence my resignation two months after accepting their offer.
“That I failed to achieve the objective I pursued is, and will always remain, a matter of deep regret, [you just have to cast your mind back to all the mismanagement and mistreatment suffered under Yahya Jammeh and his militaristic system during these long twenty-three years, and how good it would have been to have spared such horrendous experience!]. But I have no regrets to have stepped into the ring, at the cost of considerable personal risk, to see if the military could be convinced to restore genuine and early constitutional rule. To reduce my action at the time to betrayal is to miss the point altogether; the suggestion can only arise from ignorance, at the least, or cynicism”.