Has Yahya Jammeh a Joker?
By the time this piece is out, Adama Barrow might have been sworn-in as the elected president of The Gambia notwithstanding President Yahya Jammeh’s resistance. Nigeria, Senegal and other members of ECOWAS have deployed to provide a coercive escort for a swearing-in that might initially be a symbolic exercise for now, if Godfrey Onyeama, the Nigerian foreign minister’s reference to doing so at an embassy is anything to go by. What is important is that Barrow would have become the legitimate president even if Jammeh manages to hold out by holing himself in The Gambia’s Presidency. He is bound to end up a groundnut chief, a classic of the saying that the one who refuses to listen to human beings end up listening to animals.
It remains difficult for many to understand why Jammeh took this course of action of not stepping down and letting the winner take the seat, a course of action with potentials for destabilising the region in the wake of the resistance bound to follow in a region in which many member countries have said ‘Never again’ to similar situations that developed in the past. It leaves the question as to whether Jammeh could have been contemplating this course of action without a joker. What sort of joker could that be? Can he spring a last minute surprise on West African leaders which these leaders might just not have anticipated at all? Could he have developed a military strategy of drawing ECOMIG into a war to bleed it? Or, is a discursive intervention by a powerful spoiler somewhere in the offing? Has The Gambia got those attributes that any major power will stake its reputation to shield against the tide of a global consensus? Could the joker be a rogue ally somewhere that has crouched all the while? Would some president somewhere eventually succeed in convincing Jammeh to accept asylum? What sort of joker is Jammeh still capable of as for him to embark on what, by common sense, is suicidal?
No military intervention can be so clinical today as to leave no losers. In most cases, the losers would be the majority of The Gambians already grappling with existential challenges. How does ECOMIG blend in a situation in which Yahya Jammeh might have stockpiled, including rented fighters or mercenaries capable of doing damage on the ground? May Africa and democracy win!