Jammeh met with West African leaders including Nigeria's Muhammadu Buhari who hope to prevail over Gambia's longtime ruler to step down

Buhari told Jammeh he was welcomed to challenge ECOWAS

Gambia President Adama Barrow has disclosed how President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria forced former president Yahya Jammeh to retrace his steps and accept to go into exile, Nigerian media reported.

Barrow is on a day visit in Nigeria to thank the leadership of the West African superpower on the role they have played in ensuring peace in The Gambia after the December presidential election deadlock.

“When we met in Mali, he (Buhari) took a decision as a leader in a closed-door meeting. He made one statement that changed everything, that if The Gambian president wants to challenge the sub-region, he is welcome.

These were his words and that made a big difference as a leader. And that leadership role was very important not just for The Gambia, but for Africa because the problem was an Africa problem with an Africa solution,” Barrow told journalists.

“So we are very grateful and that was why we wanted to come and say ‘thank you’. There is a saying in my country that if you want to thank a farmer for a good job, you have to visit him at his farm and that is why we are here.”

The Gambian leader said the visit was long overdue. President Barrow maintained that that statement from President Buhari made a big difference in the whole saga.

“Nigeria has been supporting The Gambia for a long time in different areas like Technical Assistance in the areas of education, judiciary. We are really happy to be here,” Barrow said.

President Barrow also said Nigeria’s role was what led to a deal that was struck and his administration had a smooth transition into power.

President Buhari, on his part, has said Nigeria and The Gambia would raise a team that would draw up a political programme that which would complement each other on development.

Buhari, a former military ruler with a reputation of uprightness, expressed disappointment that he and other leaders of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) had to use strong-arm tactics to get Yahya Jammeh out.

“We had to go through those actions because it was the only option for Nigeria and ECOWAS,” President Buhari said.

He urged the Gambian leader to uphold the legacy of free and fair elections which he described as the biggest guarantee for democracy.

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