President Adama Barrow received an honorary doctorate from the University of The Gambia, generating mixed reactions to the idea of conferring the country’s leader with the degree.
Barrow’s predecessor, Yahya Jammeh add strings of titles to his name as he entrenches himself in power. Jammeh, who only had one honorary degree gave himself the name: Sheikh Professor, Dr. Alhagie Yahya Abdul Aziz Jamus Junkung Jammeh Babili Mansa Nasirudeen.
Although he later dropped the Nasirudeen, Jammeh became more autocratic as he added titles, some of which were given to him by religious leaders from the country’s so-called Supreme Islamic Council.
Some fear that President Barrow is mimicking the Jammeh style, fearing that another dictator may be in the making. But Barrow does not seem to be the man who wants titles.
He handed over a feminist-friendly award from the African Union to activist and minister of trade, Dr. Isatou Touray and declined the use of Islamic title Alhagie as part of his name after returning from the Muslim Hajj pilgrimage.
The confusion is that the UTG does not have a Ph.D. program and it is award President Barrow an honorary Ph.D. in Human Rights. Some are asking what human rights protection work has the president done since coming to power.
The administration of President Adama Barrow has received kudos from human rights group, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch for opening up the democratic space in the country, restoring rule of law and ensuring freedoms, which were restrained by his predecessor.
However, critics say the University of The Gambia, that suppose to work along the line of denouncing worship of presidents, should be embarrassed to carry out such an act, which would be an insult to the world of knowledge and academia.