Friday, October 28, 2011

Lawyer Darboe Responds To Those Calling Him A Coward

Lawyer Ousainou Darboe
The leader of the United Democratic Party (UDP), Lawyer Ousainou Darboe, has responded to those who believe he is a coward and should relinquish the leadership of the major opposition party.
Mr. Darboe, who was the guest of the Weekend news upbeat program on Saturday, 22  October, 2011 moderated by Mr. Malick Jones,Principal  producer at the GRTS (Radio), had an encounter with callers, one of whom pointedly branded him a “coward”.
A caller, who gave his names as  Mamadi Jawo of Bwiam, in Foni, said:“This program is really interesting, and Ousainou Darboe is somebody who is really ready to rule the Gambia.
“But it, really, is going to be hectic, because we have a president on the seat who is very powerful. But still, I would just conclude by saying the election this year, come November, is going to be challenging for Mr. Darboe.
“He needs to work harder to make sure he changes people’s mind, if not, it is going to be hectic anyway (laughter).”
Lawyer Darboe responding to that caller said:“Mr. Jawo, I appreciate  what you said.
“Certainly, we have the determination. We know the challenges are daunting but we have the determination.
“And,when you have the determination you can always surmount whatever difficulties face you.
“We are determined that come November 24, myself, you and others who are concerned about the plight of this country will ensure that the Jammeh regime comes to an end.
“You do not need too much preaching. Let me tell you, those who are around him {President Yahya Jammeh} with this euphoria, are the very people who are going to vote against him.
“Haven’t you seen the euphoria  around Ghaddafi few months before the people went into the streets?
“Haven’t you seen those types of things? Because they {the Presidents} are in power, they just organize, stage-manage things to make people believe that there is support.”
Another caller who did not mention his name, but in a rather strong tone, as if he was angry with the lawyer-cum opposition leader, said:“ I want to tell Mr. Darboe that Gambians don’t need him at all, because he is a coward!”
The caller went on to give his reasons why he called Darboe a coward, but Darboe quickly rebutted his facts.
The anonymous caller added:“If you look at 1996 election, that was the chance this man {Darboe} supposed to win, {but} because of his cowardice he could not win the election.
“2011 he ran to the Senegalese Embassy. 2006 he congratulated this man, President Jammeh when before the results were out.
“So, this man is a coward, we don’t need him at all.  Let him step down and give chance to others.”
The UDP leader countered the unknown caller saying: “Let me say that I am prepared to step down provided that courageous people, brave people like yourself will come forward and take over the leadership of the United Democratic Party.”
Lawyer Darboe then faulted the caller’s statements, saying he was wrong.
He pointed out that in 2006 he never congratulated President Jammeh, “so you are wrong on that aspect.”
He continued:“In 2001, I never went to the Senegalese Embassy, you are also wrong on that statement.”
The leader of the major opposition grouping went on to categorically state: “But let me tell you, I will not expose myself to unnecessary risk. It is only foolish people who expose themselves to unnecessary risk.”
For the people branding him a “coward”, the senior lawyer politician has this for them: “ Those of you who claim that I am a coward, have never taken any steps to challenge Jammeh in anyway,”  whether by going to the political fora or by going out to the public, “you have never done so”.
“And, I cannot be really, detracted by people who have not done anything to come in and rescue this country. You just sit there and accuse people of being coward.
“But the brave ones like you, the courageous ones like you {the caller} have refused to come forward, and I hope you can do so.”
As soon as Mr. Darboe finished that statement, another caller speaking with even more emphasis than the previous caller chipped in:
“Hello! Can I speak to Lawyer?”
When the moderator of the program, Mr. Malick Jones, gave him the go-ahead, the caller who did not say his name said: “Mr. Lawyer! How are you?
Darboe responded with,‘I am quite fine.’
The caller went on: “Please, why not you step down and then choose somebody who Gambians want.” He also posited that all the leaders of the opposition parties in the country should step down and give chance to others.
But when Darboe asked the caller whom did he suggest, the caller could not point to anyone, but instead he told Darboe, “You suggest some, we don’t know”.
When the opposition leader put it to him that he was  the one suggesting that they should step down, so he should suggest.
Again, the caller could not suggest anyone, he only said to Darboe,“It is over! You choose  somebody who Gambians want; a right guy.”
Darboe countered: ‘I want you to tell me who that right guy is.”
But still the caller said, “Young and energetic guy. It is enough now, how many years?”
The moderator himself asked the caller who is the right guy, but the caller was still vague, as he answered,‘the right guy could be anybody,who has never  experienced politics. We want peace to continue in this country, it is ok now! (apparently referring to Darboe’s vying for the highest political office).
Darboe again: “Mr. Gentleman, I don’t know who you are, but then let me say that, if you want us to hand over to anybody, you should mention such a person-you just mentioned, ‘to the younger’; who are these younger people? Has anyone come forward, or could you suggest anyone?
“And what peace are you talking about? Who has been causing any trouble in this country?
“I think the likes of you have no place in this society.”
Darboe further told the caller that the likes of him are the ones who fester trouble in this country, and then take refuge behind anonymity thinking that they have done service to this country.
Darboe also stressed that they in the leadership of the opposition parties are not there because they are hungry for power.
In his view, they are there because they are doing service to the Gambia, and he posited that if anyone who feels that he could do what they, the opposition leaders are doing, the person should come forward.
Speaking for himself, he vowed that he would gladly handover to anybody, saying “that much I want to assure the Gambians”.
Responding to a caller who saluted him for having the courage to come to the radio, and who asked about the situation of the negotiation for an opposition coalition, Lawyer Darboe, who earlier talked about the issue in the program, said they have not got a 100 percent achievement, saying some are in coalition. He had earlier said his party’s position was for a party-led coalition whilst the other view was for a Convention.
He, however, apprised the caller that even those who talked of Convention have not yet gone to a Convention to select a flag-bearer {standard-bearer}.
He also pointed out that when they broke up at the talks, they left a room for further consultation.
“And we hope that this further consultation will be ongoing and, I can only say that, I extend great deal of optimism that the gap  will be narrowed and I cannot guarantee that there would be all the parties-but that is my wish.
“But if we cannot have that, I can assure you that the gap will be extremely narrowed down and then we go in to contest on 24th November, probably with two {opposition} candidates.”
Taking on the Jammeh regime, Darboe said yes, Mr. Jammeh has been in power for 17 years, and he did achieve some developments.  But he said the issue is what type of development? 
He added that he is one who has always admitted that we have schools being built under the current regime.
But  Darboe was quick to say that building a school is one thing, and having quality education in those schools is another thing.
He referred to this year’s Grade 9 exams, saying the newspaper reports have that more than  20,000 kids sat to the Grade 9 Leaving Certificate Exam, and only 20 of those were able to get aggregate 6.
“That was less than 1%,” Darboe lamented, as he rhetorically asked why is that happening,and  whether that’s the measure for  development.
He further asked rhetorically how many of those who scored aggregate 6 has come out of government schools.
“I think these are some of the things one has to consider when we talk about development. It is just not the building of structures; it is how useful these structures have become.
And, for schools to be useful, he charged that they must tune out well-educated people prepared to take over the role of government in years to come.
To him, it is not about building schools and getting kids enrolled with the notion of getting statistics without having  statistics showing that there has been enormous improvement in quality education.
Again on the ruling APRC government’s developments, Darboe opined:“I must say that health centers have been built. But are they properly stuffed with medication?
“Is there a use for having a hospital that does not have medicine?
“Is there a use having a hospital where an ambulance before it moves, patients have to put together money in order to buy petrol- I have myself experienced it- buy petrol so that their patients can be ferried to the referral center.
“These are the things that people have to consider in order to determine and gauge the level of development, and gentleman {referring to the caller}, I want to say that going to our capital city, in fact on a major road, the Independence Drive, and it’s in a very deplorable state.” He also said throughout the city there are pot-holes on the roads, saying those are things one has consider to determine whether or not there have been developments in this country.
The UDP chief also pointed to the leaving conditions of the people, the skyrocketing of prices, inter alia, saying these are issues to be addressed in order to gauge the development of the country.
“A hungry nation is not a developed country,’’ Darboe told the nation over GRTS radio.
According to him, when he becomes the President of this country, he will address all that.
When Malick Jones quizzed him as to how he would do it, Darboe explained that as far as education is concerned, the UDP government would ensure that the country has not only well-trained teachers but also well-paid so that they (teachers) have incentives to apply themselves in the classroom.
Reasons: Because he cautioned that if teachers are not properly paid, and have to leave their classrooms probably to fend for their families, then the government is not doing service to them; and in that case they are just in the field because they have no other things to do.
So, he said if he comes to power, his government will make sure those teachers and those in the medical profession and so forth are well paid and well-catered for.
Responding to comments made by Mr. Kebba Yorro Manneh, who believes the current opposition could not broaden their horizon to embrace each other, for unity, the UDP leader said he (Darboe) is someone who respects the opinions and views of others, saying everyone has a right to express his view.
However, he held that it is “absolutely unfair” to accuse the Gambian opposition of not having a broad horizon.
Darboe pointed out that if they in the opposition do not have a broad horizon, they would have all waded away long ago.
But he said it is because of their horizon- which is continuously expanding- that they have been able to rise.
“In fact,” he said, with “the sort of system that we have in this country, if the opposition was not one that has a broad horizon and one that is embracing of not only other views”  but of other causes, they would have waded away. Darboe further told Manneh, “but that is your opinion”.
The Barrister and Solicitor-cum opposition politician who lost to the incumbent in three consecutive Presidential polls- namely 1996, 2001 and 2006, at that juncture buttressed: “I will make this call; those who have broader horizon, those who think they can do better than us, they should not just sit in their offices and tune out criticism at us. Let them come forward.”
But he recalled that some people have tried in the past and when they saw how rough the political terrain in this country is, they recoiled.
To Darboe, those are people who have absolutely no moral authority for criticizing the opposition leaders.
“Let them come in and take over. Obviously, I have said over and over, that I’m prepared to relinquish the leadership of the UDP to anyone. All those who think that the time has come for us {opposition leaders} to vacate the leadership of our parties, should come forward and fill the gap,”  Darboe charged their critics.
On the way forward for the UDP come November 24 Presidential polls, Darboe said it is certainly, going out to galvanize the people to come out and vote massively for the UDP and its allied parties, so that this country, which he said “lies in a state of uncertainty, where civil servants go to work and do not know whether, ‘I will have a sack today’; where it is unpredictable what will be the pump price for fuel, should be brought to an end”.
He also promised that the press, which is the fourth estate, would have the freedom to disseminate views that are not acceptable or espouse by those in authority.
Darboe said they also want to build a society that is tolerant, saying “we do not think anybody should to the communities and say ‘I’m in-charge of the funds of this country, if you don’t vote for me, you will not have development’.
“That shows intolerance of views and it undermines the integrity of the Constitution of this country. And we want to bring an end to that”.
Earlier on, Darboe also pointed out that the voter apathy in the past elections could not be attributed to only opposition votes but also Jammeh’s supporters who did not cast their votes, and also because some have left the country.  He also picked holes in Jammeh’s back-to-the land call.
The opposition leader rounded off by commending the program and posits that other segments of the GRTS should organize it in local languages so that the majority of Gambians can follow the discussions.

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