Ousainou Darboe. Kemeseng Jammeh. Solo Sandeng. These folks and many unknowns proved that the Gambia still has hearts made of steel. Fatoumata Tambajang. Fatou Jawara (women youth president). Ordinary women and young girls. The women stole the show not with the usual ambiance of dancing and singing they gave their male counterparts on political platforms, but slept outside on the verandas following an impasse and let their voices be heard on matters. Voices of reason and substance.

They stood on campaign platforms to decry the current state of our women, the economy, plight of our farmers and young ones dying at sea. They made us all proud. That’s an indication that we’ve come so far as a people, nation and our politics reached a new high!

Not to get overly excited to declare the battle over but I could say with a great degree of certitude that the fear factor in Gambians all over the globe, on the ground in particular, has been steadily eroding. The open display of disillusionment with Jammeh’s APRC administration is a testament of the readiness that Gambians have to fully engage in the change agenda to usher in a new, different dispensation after 20 years of the Green Party.

For a very long time, many Gambians were frustrated and almost gave up on the opposition parties and their leaders for the much needed political change. That frustration, which isn’t all their making, compelled most of us to subscribe to alternative options of regime change which include use of force. For me, since Jammeh shows no inclination to play fair in the political arena nor has he any incentive to cede power, I still do believe that Gambians will be justified should they employ any means to defend and free themselves of the repressive regime that did them every awful thing imaginable.

Ideally, we’d all prefer a peaceful political transition as did Senegal and recently Nigeria. Unfortunately there isn’t anything ideal about the Gambia’s political avalanche that could grant us the ability to emulate our sister countries without a gun toting fight from Yaya. So for the most part, the manner in which power shifts from one color to another is dependent on the government, and I’d hope they’d not want to do anything that would compel Gambians to do an ‘Ivory Coast’.

The events of the last 10 days could change the course of our fight and rewrite history. The United Democratic Party and their 64-year old leader, the youth and women in particular, deserve commendation for an unprecedented but deserved brevity, in standing up to an illegal directive to abort a mission the party has very right to embark on. To stand their ground, took off the masks to tell Yaya that they’re ready and willing to face whatever thrown their way but will not yield. That he’d failed the country and neither empty promises nor threats would mute them any longer. ‘FEAR NO MORE!’, they sang, as they donned their yellow outfit, pose for the cameras and speak openly but responsibly and sincerely about the state of affairs. That was very courageous.

The UDP set precedence and for that reason we all applaud them. Not to instigate any politician or ordinary folks to immaturely start an unsuitable violent resistance, but to be able to defend yourself and refuse Jammeh to toy with you as he pleases should always be a premiere necessity. This time Darboe defiantly led his party in showing up! Sustaining the momentum should be the goal of all political parties, diaspora Gambians and all stakeholders.

What had started as a UDP issue, became a national affair that prompted a solid response from all allies especially the opposition on the ground. The amount of solidarity from Mai Ahmed Fatty, Hamat Bah, Omar A. Jallow and Halifa Sallah, and the diaspora was unequivocal, real and overwhelming that Darboe had to be gracious in admitting that it wasn’t any longer a UDP battle. The bear that they poked faces a whole nation of the willing and like-minded who had enough of an anti-democratic reign.

Evident is the fact that UDP are willing to step up and make count the claim of being the country’s second biggest party. Going by the previous election results, they earned that feather on their hats. It just was a credited feat that they’ve not taken advantage of. One thing that’s never up for debate is the numbers in politics. Numbers count and you have to have them on you to win elections. I hope the UDP straddle and exploit this reality.

Now, though it’s a numbers game, the political climate in the Gambia isn’t conducive for any one party to dislodge the APRC government. That’s a fact that’s not lost on any Gambian. As such, the opposition parties must continue their discussions and start the Coalition talks in earnest. That the country needs them today than ever before, and must not disappoint the discontented populace by failing to form a United Front to take on Jammeh at the polls.

The elections route as an option for regime change has been an evolving position for me. A few months back, I was arguing that it’s a waste of time and resources especially without electoral reforms. I’d been a proponent of ‘any means necessary‘ and I still am. In fact, the events of December 30 that had seen the closest effort to end the dictatorship failed, sent me into a wild shock with the heaviest disappointment that I wished it was all a dream. I was crushed. But again, I had to remind myself that in the ‘any means necessary‘ School of Thought was a democratic faculty too. That elections is a viable option if all parties are able to coalesce and present a single candidate, the only condition on which most of us would almost support 2016. If we aren’t keen on vigorously pursuing that, I hope we have an alternative to non-participation because that’d mean buying Yaya’s wishes on a cheap. What do we get out of that, dealing with a man who gives zilch about legitimacy in the eyes of the international community?

With what we’ve seen in Fass Njaga Choi, I believe that the opposition party leaders do not have any serious division within them to bar them from unifying for a national cause like those outside their circles seem to believe. If anything, the recent events are a myth buster that Yaya can dictate everything, at all times as he pleases. The opposition G6 can deliver us. That’s not just a mere optimism. It’s doable.

In an event that we sustained this momentum and have continued political activity till the 2016 elections, with each political party on voter engagement, the Gambian voters’ faith and hopes will be restored and they’d vote Yaya out. The coward that he is, Yaya wouldn’t want to force himself to cling on. Should he do, the Gambians reserve the right to make him our Lauren Gbagbo by forcefully putting him in cuffs and hold him responsible for election violence. Because he’s not ready to die, he’d have no option but  concede and let us take our country back. I honestly do have faith in the electorate!

Yaya is a deceitful cornball and smart hypocrite. He’d sponsor the voter registration and participation of Bissau nationals resident in the Gambia in their presidential elections but refused Gambians in the diaspora a chance to elect their president. Yaya Jammeh is the quintessential Sibijang Dubengho, Samba Alarr. As if wasn’t bad enough, he systematically put in place a 5-year residency barrier that denies Gambians the right to contest elections if they hadn’t reside in the country for the 5 years that precedes the elections. Unfortunately, this hasn’t been something that concerns us as much as the 65-year constitutional restriction to bars Darboe, OJ and Sidia from running.

Fortunately, the age restriction isn’t deterring these men. They continue to fight even if they know they might not be able to run. They selflessly work night and day to make sure the leave a Gambia to their children. What are our excuses? These are the men I admire and respect. They’re the men we owe a lot to. And I am hopeful that they’d witness a Gambia free of Yaya Jammeh and tyranny.

Yaya Must Go!

Peace To The Planet.

 Pata PJ