Gambia President, Adama Barrow, has disclosed how President Muhammadu Buhari forced former president Yahya Jammeh to retrace his steps and accept to go into exile.
President Barrow, 51, a property developer, who never held elected office before, won a December 1, 2016 election to end the rule of longtime leader Jammeh.
Speaking to State House Correspondents at the end of a closed door meeting with President Buhari, the Gambian leader who, said the visit was long overdue, revealed that at a closed door meeting, in Mali with ECOWAS leaders, with ousted Jammeh in attendance, the Nigerian president had told Jammeh “if you want to challenge the entire sub-region, you are welcome.” President Barrow maintained that that statement from President Buhari made a big difference in the whole saga.
Said President Barrow, “My visit is very important to us. We have always wanted to say ‘thank you’ when Nigeria gave us all the support during and after the impasse. Nigeria has been supporting The Gambia for a long time in different areas like technical assistance in the area of education, judiciary. We are really happy to come.
“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. This was 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.
“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.”
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.
He continued, “Basically, in the deal ECOWAS was involved; the UNDP and the international community were involved to mediate and this mediation. Nigeria was involved and Liberia as the chair was involved. The Guinean President and the Mauritanian President were also involved. The Guinean President and the Mauritanian President were physically on ground for him to accept the will of the people, exit to allow us assume office. This was the deal.,He accepted to go on exile when we couldn’t guarantee his security. This was the deal.”
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.
According to President Buhari, “We did our best in the most critical time, hopefully now the president will raise his team and we will raise a corresponding team and we will seat together and see how we can draw a political programme that will complement each other’s effort on development. So this is the next thing we are going.”