Gambian opposition leaders backing President-elect Adama Barrow are banking their hopes on Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari’s political and military experience to extinguish the political logjam in mainland Africa’s smallest nation, said Mr. Femi Adesina, Mr. Buhari’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity.
“We need the experience of President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria in many ways. Like President Jammeh, he is a former military officer, so he knows how the military thinks and would be able to talk to him appropriately,” said Hamat Bah, a senior coalition leader.
Nigeria’s President Buhari did come to power just like Jammeh in a coup in 1983 before being ousted two years later. He later joined the opposition until he won elections last year. Mr. Buhari was regarded a dictator as a military ruler and now says he is a “converted democrat.”
“Again, President Buhari was in the opposition in Nigeria for about 12 years, before he won the election in 2015. So, he also knows how the opposition thinks. He can feel what we feel. We are quite glad that President Buhari is here, it gives us a lot of hope,” Bah said.
Buhari will be leading a mediation effort to have Jammeh hand over power to Barrow. Jammeh’s term ends on January 18 and the UN said it will impose strong sanctions of Jammeh if he refuses to hand over power.
Buhari was among a delegation of West African leaders that met with President Yahya Jammeh twice, conferred with Barrow, consulted with security chiefs, members of the diplomatic community, the leadership of the electoral commission, and many other interest groups.
ECOWAS leaders met in Abuja on Saturday and agreed that President Jammeh must respect the outcome of the polls and step down.
Jammeh had earlier accepted the results as transparent, congratulated President-elect Barrow, only to recant a week later, calling for fresh polls “to be conducted by a God-fearing electoral commission.”