Sir Dawda: O.J. recounts quintessential characters of a phenomenal leader

Monday, September 02, 2019

Omar A. Jallow who is widely called O.J., and also the former Agriculture minister under the late president, Sir Dawda Kairaba Jarawa has paid glowing tribute to his former boss, saying he had unified Gambia.

“He was a Gambian and he proved it well, when the initiators of the Protected People Party went to him and say they wanted to form a party and make him the leader. He advised them that the unity and cohesion of The Gambia was more important and there is need to have a party that comprises every Gambian, irrespective of where you come from, which tribe or religion, and he proposed a new name called the People’s Progressive Party (PPP).”

“Thank you, Sir Dawda for making Gambia one united family. He championed the independence of this country and became our first prime minister,” he said of Sir Dawda.

“The first referendum for us to become a republic, we lost it by less than 500 votes and the supporters of the PPP called a meeting at Faraba Bantang for him to declare a republic but he said no because we have lost.”

According to him, Sir Dawda said even if they had lost a vote, they should not undermine the Constitution of the country.” He was ready to resign rather than to agree to anything that would violate the laws of the country. It was only after the second referendum it became republic.”

He talked about Sir Dawda’s foresight, saying he realised the vitality of the relations between The Gambia and Senegal and that is why immediately after independence, he sat with former President Leopold Sedar Senghor and they signed a declaration and agreement on Education, Culture, Youth and Defence.

“Because of that foresight we were able to be saved from desperation and torturers of terror in 1981, when Kukoi Samba Sanyang waged war against the Gambian people, we thank Senegal for their intervention, acceptance and respect for the agreement that was initiated with Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara.”

“His achievements, we know his humility, openness, tolerance, accommodation and ability as president to listen and accept advice. He was one of the most successful values that all are copying.”

Sir Dawda, we will never forget about your legacy and we will lead by it, so that we see Gambia as the most peaceful country in the world.

“When the former president of Guinea Conakry Ahmed Sekou Touray and former president of Senegal Leopold Sedar Senghor were on to each other until there was to be war, nobody send Sir Dawda but he got up on his own initiative and spoke to the two heads of state and bring them together to make sure peace took place between Gambia and Senegal and for the first time each send diplomatic positions to each other’s country.

“When Houphouet and Eyadema had a problem, he took it upon himself to negotiate between the two countries until there was peace. When Liberia and Sierra Leon had a problem, Sir Dawda was the one who went and negotiated it and made sure there was peace.”

“When the war of Iran and Iraq took place, he was chosen one among the committees of the mediation of peace and unfortunately the chairperson of the mediation team died and UN agreed that Sir Dawda should head the team. Through his efforts, peace was stabilised between Iran and Iraq.”

“He was one of the initiators of ECOWAS and everyone in the sub region knew about his activity to bring about change and development in the West Coast of Africa so that our dependency on foreign aid stops. “We should be able to make sure that we are self reliant, do things for ourselves,” O.J. quoted Sir Dawda as saying.

Author: Pa Modou Cham
Source: Picture: OJ & Sir Dawda