Dec 5, 2019, 11:41 AM
In a condolence message to the spouse and family of the late Archbishop Solomon Tilewa Johnson, who was buried in Banjul on Friday, Lawyer Darboe said “Gambians, in general, and the political class, in particular, will always remember one of his strongly held views, which is to the effect that hostility amongst political leaders is an impediment to harmonious living and national development”
The full text of Darboe’s statement follows:
“Dear Venerable Lady and Mother,
“It is with great shock and profound grief that I learned of the untimely demise of Dr. Solomon Tilewa Johnson of the Gambia and Senegal and the first Gambian Archbishop and Primate of the Church of the Province of West Africa.
“‘My Lord the Bishop’, as I always called him, was a unique and special Gambian. His activities impacted positively on the lives of all Gambians. For the religious class, Dr. Johnson as a leader in the Christian community preached and defended the values and traditions of Christianity.
“For the NGO community, he was the man concerned with the plight of the ordinary people, always looking out for ways and means of improving their quality of life.
“For the political class, he was the respected and admired deputy Chairman of the Provisional Independent Electoral Commission and Chairman of the Independent Electoral Commission. It was during his membership of the IEC that I had intense interaction with him.
“As chairman of the commission, he constantly reminded us of the Gambian tradition of ironing out our differences amicably, but with frankness. He institutionalized the Inter-Party Committee, a forum that brought together political parties to discuss not only what would enhance the electoral process, but also issues affecting inter-party relations.
“He did a lot to reduce tension between political parties. It was his intervention, untiring efforts and strong unbiased leadership that cleared the misunderstanding between my party and the then Minister of the Interior and Inspector General of Police.
“To shore up the credibility of the IEC and protect the integrity of votes, he introduced on-the-spot counting. For him, political parties should enjoy some form of state funding. He conceived of and recommended the creation of a Democracy Fund into which political parties can tap to fund their activities.
“Like the bishop caring for his flock, he as chairman of the IEC treated political parties as his flock. He made it his duty to visit political party offices to see for himself the conditions in which parties were housed.
“The last time I saw and spoke to my lord the Bishop was Monday 13th January 2014, at the call ceremony of new barristers. We sat on the same row. On that occasion, and on similar occasions, he showed his passion for justice. He prayed for the new barristers to have the courage and determination to do justice.
“Though my lord the Bishop is no more with us in flesh, the values and principles he stood for and pursued fervently remain with us. Gambians, in general, and the political class, in particular, will always remember one of his strongly held views, which is to the effect that hostility amongst political leaders is an impediment to harmonious living and national development.
“Venerable lady and mother, may I on my own behalf and on behalf of the membership of UDP extend through you to the Johnson family and the Church of the Province of West Africa our profound condolences on the demise of this extra-ordinary Gambian, Dr. Solomon Tilewa Johnson. May his gentle soul rest in peace”.
ANM Ousainu Darboe Secretary General & Party Leader