While many, including me, were expecting a bloodbath in The Gambia as the deadline set by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) expired for ex-President Yahya Jammeh to vacate office for the duly elected President, Adama Barrow. I kept a late night on the 19th of January waiting for the news of Jammeh stepping down peacefully. I was disappointed the man called the bluff of ECOWAS and the international community as if telling them to “go to hell”. This movie was going to be longer than I thought.
That night, with no sign of President Jammeh planning to leave, even though I knew he was like a drowning man struggling against the wind, I had to manage to sleep for barely two hours. This was a man who stood no chance against the Nigerian-led ECOMOG soldiers. Why should he be fighting a lost battle? Why shouldn’t he just accept the asylum offers from Nigeria and Morocco? Why does this man just want to shed innocent blood in a battle he would still lose? All these were the questions I asked myself as Jammeh continued to stay in power at Banjul.
As someone told me, Jammeh has some South African-trained mercenary soldiers ready to defend him in event of an ECOMOG invasion. He said for him to have stayed in power for about 22 years, giving up power easily will be very difficult. He argued that Nigeria shouldn’t have intervened. Should Jammeh win the war against ECOMOG, he argued, the myth of Nigerian military will be will be broken and that will further ignite the Biafran agitations in Nigeria.
Even though I knew the position this man is coming from, especially as it concerns the Nigerian army, I made some sense from what the man was saying. At some point during the negotiation, some events propped up here in Nigeria. Nigeria’s Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, has opposed the military option to The Gambian crisis. He argued that it would be counter-productive. At the same time, some pseudo blogs came up with the news that Jammeh as allegedly “told” President Buhari that he should “go and free Nnamdi Kanu and Biafra before coming to tell me to go.” As if things were all planned at the time, the Nigerian Senate woke up from its slumber, opposing the deployment of troops to The Gambia. The soon realize it was “unconstitutional” for the President to deploy troops after the soldiers have almost reached Senegal. Clearly, Jammeh’s agents are really hard at work here in Nigeria!
While this is not the platform to respond to Jammeh’s Nigerian agents, as Africans, we should congratulate ourselves that we were able to demonstrate to the world that we are capable of handling our affairs without European or US intervention. That there was no gun shot or lives lost in the whole crisis shows things are really changing. The most important thing is that Jammeh’s 22 year reign came to an end in The Gambia without bloodbath.
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