Michael Scales

(JollofNews) – Looking online for the latest news from the Gambia, we are pleased to hear that National Assembly Members have revoked the 90 day extension of the National Assembly and the state of emergency.

The British Embassy is no longer advising Brits to stay away from the Gambia. President Barrow is reported to have asked Ecowas military forces to remain for a period of six months, but this may be at a much reduced capacity. Ecowas are also to foot the cost of the invasion and the peace keeping force. The media in the Gambia is also reported to be engaging in debate and free speech, although I cannot find any life online as yet from the Daily Observer although I am informed it is still functioning.

Obviously, government business would be maintained by the highly experienced economic army of reliable permanent secretaries and their deputies. In the previous Jammeh’s government, the ministers were merely interchangeable department figureheads. It was always the permanent secretaries that held the greater authority.

The banks are open and the internet is again flourishing as with the local and international phone service. It is good to feel the warmth of freedom opening the curtains from the shabby, dusty, darkness of Jammeh’s 22 years to embrace the welcoming sunlight at last.
Foroyaa  have grasped the nettle to great advantage. The information available online has rapidly being fronted by this rather demure and without frills newspaper. I wonder if its slogan should be changed from “educating the people” to something more ground breaking like “The voice of the people”.

The western based online media is full of those who are dancing their intellectual qualities for jobs from the Barrow Government. Others are rather presumptuous, explaining with rather obscure theories of “how Jammeh lost the election”.  Yet no one is talking about how Adama Barrow won the election. I find this a very subtle difference. In that Jammeh lost, omitting that Adama Barrow won. I think it was always agreed  from this side of the argument that a coalition was to be the “can opener” and the further participation of Mamma Kandeh managed to poll that vital 17 per cent away from the clutches of Mr Jammeh.

The voting trend had been established. So the 362,000 that stayed at home and didn’t vote would in all mathematical probability have given Mr Barrow and Mr Kandeh an even greater majority to what Mr Jammeh had consistently polled in previous elections of around 63 per cent  to  71 per cent. As it happened, the combined poll of votes against Mr Jammeh was around 60 per cent.  Without the coalition and Mr Kandeh, Mr Jammeh would have won as the opposition vote would have been divided to insignificance.

I think this is another reason why Mr Jammeh was so shocked and gave a knee jerk concession to Mr Barrow and then realising how vulnerable he was to a very uncertain future. Ms Fatoumata Tambajang’s outburst of pursuing a legal accountability against Jammeh appeared to spook him towards his intransigence. Looking at his face through the cabin window as he departed Gambia, we could plainly see how stress distorts a man’s face to make him 20 years older. The brain converts paranoid thoughts into tort facial nerves, visible to the tightness of all face muscles into a permanent shocked expression. So Yahya  Jammeh the man, was as mortal as the rest of us. He was scared.

It is therefore uplifting to note just how many of his  former foreign diplomats, friends and ministers abandoned him after the election with Madam Vice President being the last. There is a need for many of the draconian media laws to be lifted with a view to encouraging inward investment into a modern television, radio and publishing nation. This will reinvigorate President Barrow’s vision for a free press, accountable only to the people. It will also educate and invigorate public opinion. The rest is down to time and patience.