By Muhammed S. Bah
Adama Barrow, the proprietor of Majum Real Estate, who hails from Mankamang Kunda in Jimara, Upper River Region (URR), has been officially declared yesterday, Thursday 1st September 2016, as the presidential candidate of the United Democratic Party (UDP) in the forthcoming December 1st election.
Announcing this at a press conference at the UDP main bureau in Banjul, attended by the party executive members, militants and supporters, Alhaji Dembo Bojang, the National President of UDP, said the selection of Mr. Barrow was the result of an application process which was opened on Monday 29 August 2016.
He said applications were submitted on Tuesday, 30 August 2016, which were scrutinized by the party’s central committee and forwarded to the selection committee which comprises 26 members.
“Three people applied, namely Abdou Darboe from Foni Sibanor, age 35, Momodou Buba Jarju from Brikama age 46, and the final applicant was Adama Barrow, age 51,” said the UDP National President.
Mr. Bojang, who said he was the chairman of the selection committee, disclosed to the journalists that it was the applications of two of the applicants namely Abdou Darboe and Adama Barrow that were forwarded to the selection committee on Wednesday, 31 August 2016, for the final selection.
“It was proposed that we should do the final selection through an election either a secret ballot or an open election by the raising of hands, then later it was unanimously agreed that we should raise our hands to conduct the election. Abdou Darboe came up with 4 votes and Adama Barrow got 22 votes,” disclosed the UDP National President.
Adama Barrow, who is 51 years of age, was serving as UDP Acting Treasurer until his selection as the party’s flag bearer.
In his acceptance speech, Mr. Barrow expressed appreciation for being selected as flagbearer as well as his willingness to serve in the interest of the nation.
“As we take this bold step to enter the fifth cycle of elections since the military coup, we do so for our leaders, who have been unjustly arrested, imprisoned for months without bail, maltreated and then sentenced to four years in prison. We will be letting them down and betraying them if we sit by and allow Yaya Jammeh to win these elections,” said Mr. Barrow.
He said as he accepts the nomination as the party’s presidential candidate, he is urging all the members of the UDP and fellow Gambians in general to rededicate themselves to this noble task of salvaging the country.
“I wish to appeal to all Gambians, particularly leaders and members of other sister parties, to get together and unite around the common cause that we are unanimous that we have in common – remove this government in the polls and create a government truly of the people and by the people. In the coming days, my fellow Gambians, I will be stretching my hands to other parties to come together to form a single front to once and for all take this soulless dictator out. It is a monumental task but we owe it to our country, to our leaders to do it and do it the right way,” declared the UDP flag bearer.
He added that in the next few days, the UDP Executive and himself “would be contacting their colleagues in the other parties and other interested groups with a view to engaging in a dialogue that could lead to creating a conducive and feasible arrangement that would lead to the defeat of this government. I wish to call upon all Gambians to take these forthcoming elections seriously. We cannot continue another five years under Yaya Jammeh.”
He concluded by thanking the Executive and the Central Committee for giving him honour and privilege to serve the party in this capacity and that he is solemnly promising that he will do all in his power to lead the party to success in the polls and beyond.
The event was also witnessed by Ajaratou Yam Secka, UDP Deputy Secretary General, among other senior party officials.
Below are excerpts from Mr. Barrow’s acceptance speech on his biography:
“I have been a member of the UDP since 1996. As an ordinary member I worked for the party in my native constituency of Jimara, in Upper River Region where I was born in the town of Basse. I started my education from Koba Kunda primary school then in 1981 I went to Crab Island Secondary Technical School. After doing well in the secondary school leaving certificate examinations I proceeded to Muslim High School from 1985 to 1988. However, I spent most of my adult life in Banjul in the guardianship of the famous Alhagie Momodou Musa Njie, who introduced me to entrepreneurship and that’s what I have been doing successfully until today. I also lived and travelled extensively in both England and Germany. In 2010 the National Executive of the party appointed me as Coordinator of the UDP URR Committee. This gave me the opportunity to travel the length and breadth of the Region and that way extended the membership and support of our party. In 2006, I was again appointed by the Executive as Deputy Treasurer to Amadou Sanneh. I was quite comfortable in accepting this post because I did have prior accounting skills. This job, with the encouragement of Amadou, also broadened my interaction with the grassroots organisations of the party and today I can say that there is no Regional Committee that I am not known in.”
“UDP is open to negotiation”
Says UDP Flag Bearer
In a brief interview with this reporter shortly after his selection as the United Democratic Party (UDP) presidential candidate in the December 1st election, Mr. Adama Barrow disclosed that the UDP is open to negotiation with other parties in the selection of a flag bearer for a united front.
Mr. Barrow said the UDP has two proposals as options to offer for this opposition unity. He said the first condition is a party led coalition while the second option, if the first fails, is to select an independent candidate in a united front who will not be affiliated to any party.
“We are still open to negotiation because united we stand and divided we fall. We are not looking for a party. We are looking for the Gambia because we want change. Our proposal is party-led coalition but we have another proposal which is to select someone as an independent. This independent candidate is to be selected by the parties and not by a single party. The criteria for this independent candidate are a credible person from no affiliated party and trustworthy; that will respect the agreement and if we win, then parties will go to election in two years,” said the UDP presidential hopeful.
Mr. Barrow said he will soon start working with other opposition parties to ensure the formation of a united front in order to dislodge President Yahya Jammeh from office in the forthcoming presidential election.