“Faith in the Almighty God is our strongest pillar of hope and strength. Service to humanity is service to God. The rare opportunity to serve one’s country faithfully is a rare honor and privilege. May God bless The Gambia,” said Mai Fatty after he was fired as Interior Minister.
But why? Ended a meeting with the Occupy Westfield guys, no agreement reached and he was summoned to State House. In the evening he was fired and Occupy Westfield given a permit after a human rights lawyer Ba Tambadou was directed to oversee the ministry.
A close aide of Mai told me that he was neither aware of the issuance of permit nor did he have any influence over it. So it is not a mere conjecture to say it was because of Occupy Westfield but there is certainly more to it than just that.
Certainly, it could be tempting given that the denial of a permit for Occupy Westfield by Barrow might suggest he agreed with what Darboe and the UDP went through, not to talk of Solo Sandeng. The denial can also be understood as Barrow reneging on his campaign promises.
Finally, it attracted so much negative publicity for the government and as politics is not a battlefield and politicians, not soldiers, no one takes the bullet for another.
But is this enough justification to fire a minister or should he be merely invited and cautioned? I certainly will find any president who fires his minister on this basis as a hypocrite or a fool.
Mai’s sacking is in fact not clear. Is it because of the Semlex corruption allegation? That would be really stupid because Mai has not awarded that contract.
In fact, that contract to Semlex was awarded by Yahya Jammeh’s administration after Semlex was vetted by a ministerial committee in which sat the likes of The Standard newspaper proprietor Sheriff Bojang while he was communication minister and the head of the government Public Private Partnership department, Mustapha Samateh, at the ministry of finance with some officials from the finance ministry and Central Bank.
Is it some imaginary drug business crime he allegedly got into while in the U.S. or some rumor that he goes around asking prayers from elders because he wants to succeed Barrow?
If it is about succession, then I would say Halifa Sallah and Lawyer Darboe are the only members of the coalition who have openly talked about wanting to be president after the transition. These stories were reported in the media and they happened even Barrow settled in his executive chair.
Or maybe it is about the anger in Kombo that they have no ministerial position. Every influential Kombonka I spoke to in the past few months is not happy with the level of attention they have received from Barrow administration.
Darboe visibly tried to correct this with various ambassadorial appointments but that did not do the trick. I was not born then but I have read what happened when DK Jawara was believed to have betrayed the provincial agenda. Sheriff Dibba relied on that anger and sense of betrayal to build a career.
Be aware that protectorate at independence was Kombo to Nuimi. Is this an effort from UDP to avoid the mistake that nearly clouded Jawara’s career? Will Mai be succeeded by a Kombonka?
So if it is none of the above, then what the world is it? Or is Barrow modeling Macky Sall? Or perhaps it is Barrow’s own way of saying I can also be tough?
My conclusion is that Barrow is trying to get support from certain quotas. Mai has been perhaps the most criticized member of the Barrow’s cabinet. Politics is not a religion and as they would say, “throw him under the bus”.
Well, you better know who you will throw under the bus…
Mustapha Darboe is an award-winning Gambian journalist and Editor-In-Chief of The Torch. He is a former news editor at Today News and a senior reporter at the Standard Newspaper.