President of The Gambia, Adama Barrow, has expressed appreciation to federal government for the role it played in ensuring that democratic rule thrives in that West African country.
Speaking today in Abuja during his one-day visit to Nigeria, The Gambian president thanked President Muhammadu Buhari, saying he (Buhari) simply played on the intelligence of the former President, Yahya Jammeh and forced him into exile in 2017.
He said things turned out in his favour after Buhari challenged Jammeh to a military contest from member countries in the sub-region adding that the challenge made Jammeh afraid.
“When we met in Mali, he (Buhari) took a decision as a leader in a closed door meeting; he made one statement that changed everything. He asked if the then Gambian President wants to challenge the sub-region, he is welcomed. These were his words and that made a big difference as a leader.
“That leadership role was very important not just for The Gambia but for Africa because the problem was an Africa problem with an Africa solution,” he said.
Barrow said his visit to Nigeria was strategic going by the support received from the government during the period of political impasse.
“My visit is very important to us. We have always wanted to say thank you when Nigeria gave us all the support during and after the impasse.
“Nigeria has been supporting The Gambia for a long time in different areas like technical assistance in the area of education, judiciary. We are really happy to come.
“We are very grateful and that was why we wanted to come and say thank you. There is a saying in my country that if you want to thank a farmer for a good job, you have to visit him at his farm and that is why we are here,” he said.
In his response, Buhari said he got the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) including the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the international community involved to drive the process of restoring normalcy to The Gambia.
“Nigeria was involved and Liberia as the Chair was involved, the Guinean President and the Mauritanian President were also involved.
“The Guinean President and the Mauritanian President were physically on the ground to persuade him (Jammeh) to accept the will of the people, exit to allow us assume office.
“That was the deal, he accepted to go on exile which we couldn’t guarantee his security. That was the deal,” Buhari said.
Buhari said Nigeria and The Gambia would continue to strengthen partnership on development programmes that would be mutually beneficial.