It is with great sadness to learn the passing away of my political mentor. Uncle OJ’s qualities are backed by experience, intelligence, integrity, and dependability. He was outgoing with a great sense of humor; he was honest, trustworthy, and reliable.
He has been tested many times but always displayed sincerity, and bluntness and practices what he preaches. He makes decisions and accepts responsibility for his actions and his words. The same is true in his dealing with his people. He is someone people can rely on, for he has demonstrated that he loves and cares about the wealth fare of his people with all his heart, might, mind, and soul and strives to help them as a true mark of responsible politicians.
Uncle OJ became a source of inspiration for many by setting a good example, for at the height of the AFPRC Junta, he resigned from his lucrative job with the United Nations and returned to Serekunda East to fight against Dictatorship. During his testimony at TRRC, Hon OJ said: “I believe as a leader, when the going gets tough, your people should look up to you for help and see how you react to the situation.” OJ is not fake like other politicians, seen mainly by voters when elections are near or change parties for political expediency. He has stood by his people during difficulties under the APRC regime. His resilience and positive thinking have been visible through his actions. He never bowed down under pressure.
Uncle is sincere and loyal to his country, the PPP, and the late Sir Dawda; immediately after the lifting of Degree 89 in 2001, while OJ was working to register and revive the PPP, most of his followers tried to persuade him to form his political party. They advised him that it would be easier, for he has built a strong bond with the People. Uncle OJ defiantly rejected it in response; he said the PPP and Sir Dawda did not do any wrong in the Gambia, and all the bonds he has with the people are because of the PPP.
The late Sir Dawda described OJ as his more trustworthy contact and could not have any reasons to doubt OJ’s advice when making the most consequential decision of his life. “In the phone call I had with Omar Jallow, I pointed out to him that I thought the word amnesty was rather inappropriate. He and I analyzed the mood of the moment, and he advised strongly that we ignore technicalities and semantics and concentrate on the spirit of the language rather than the text. He urged me to accept the offer. He had heard reactions already from some quarters urging me not to accept, but he advised that I should never be swayed by those opinions. He said my peace of mind and my homecoming from a long exile were more important… Omar Jallow was one of the more trustworthy contacts I still had on the ground in Banjul. I found no reason to doubt his reading of the situation.” Excerpt from Kairaba
In 2018, when OJ’s announced his resignation as the party leader of the PPP, many people weren’t happy. They thought the PPP needed him for a few more years. I was approached to persuade him. In my phone call with him, I begged him to give us another two years for the stability of the PPP. In response, he said to me, do not worry about the stability of the PPP. What about if I died? He said, “The PPP has never been stable under Sir Dawda since inception, but we had a fair, transparent, and trustworthy leader. If you people behave like him, you did not have to worry about the stability of the PPP follow the PPP constitution and the track record of Sir Dawda”.
OJ’s politics is about working for his constituents and not working against them. He has proven reliable, consistent, loyal, and committed to his country. While OJ was a parliamentarian for the people of Serekunda East, he brought several developmental projects to the doorstep of his people, such as;
1. Serekunda Health Center,
2. Bundung Health Center (Bundung Maternity Ward, onetime referred to Jammeh foundation hospital Bundung),
3. Fire Service Station,
4. Tallinding Market,
5. Latrikunda Mampato-Koto Market,
6. Fajikunda Market,
7. Latrikunda Health Center,
8. Serekunda East Mini Stadium,
9. Buffer Zone,
10. . To name a few, Most of these initiatives were not government-sanctioned. He also ensures Access to water and electricity within his constituency. He was very innovative by organizing TESITO Projects and fundraising events and used the profits to uplift the living condition of his people.
Uncle OJ’s style of politics is to unite and reach a consensus, not divide or create enmity among people. In his Maiden appearance at the TRRC, considering all the arrests, tortures, and humiliations he had gone through under the APRC regime, he preached national unity and forgiveness.
Without a doubt, History will always judge Uncle OJ very well! May Allah forgive all his shortcomings and grant him Janatul Fridawsi!
Kebba Lamin Nanko
Director Media and Communications, PPP USA Chapter.