By Sanna Camara
The secretary general of the opposition UDP has urged the ruling APRC government to be more tolerant to opponents, as refusal of the body of the late opposition big wig Buba Bandeh to be buried in the country reflects the highest order of “intolerance” by the party to any citizen of this country.
Lawyer Ousainou Darboe, who went to attend prayer arrangements for the departed opposition colleague but was informed that the ceremony has been deferred to next week, called The Standard to speak on his concerns over the recent decision to refuse Buba’s body burial in the Gambia. He also accused the APRC of fighting perceived opponents both in their lives and even in their death.
“In Mandinka, we have a saying that everything ends when someone dies… We cannot be intolerant to people when they are alive and continue to be intolerant to them when they are dead. Such an occasion should have served to bring people together and creating better harmony. After all, we are not sworn enemies but people who differ in views. If one reflects on what he (Buba) has contributed to society, you ought to concede that he should have been buried in The Gambia in honour and dignity as he certainly deserved. I know that in Madina Gunass, he was given the full religious rites that even burying in the Gambia will not surpass.
“I am thoroughly taken aback by the fact that Mr Bandeh, a onetime minister of state, parliamentarian, and parliamentary secretary; who one-time served The Gambian community in a non-political capacity, to be denied burial in the Gambia, where his forefathers have been laid to rest, is unfir to him, his family, colleagues and the entire Gambian citizenry, however, he said it can also be viewed as predestined. Sometimes as Muslims, these things are considered predestined… for Buba’s burial in Madina Gunas, Senegal, should be considered as such.
Mr daboe, who went tos school together with Buba, and their fathers were among gambia’s first generation politicians as parliamentrians, sai he was “particularly worried that you have people who have immensely contributed to the development of this country – the Saihou Saballys, the Bunja Darboes, and so on… Would they be treated in the same way? These are the causes of my worry currently. I just cannot understand why in one’s own country people would be denied the right to be buried here: It baffles me just like it baffles me why Sheriff M Dibba was denied to be laid in state.”
He said Mr Dibba was the first vice president of the Gambia, the first minister of economic planning in The Gambia, the first Gambian ambassador to the EU in Brussels, who also served in other ministries like finance and local government, and was for many years, the most viable opposition leader in this country, and before his death, the speaker of the national assembly.
“It baffles me why he was not laid in house. In fact, his death passes as a non-event as it was not even on the national news. It was the same with Mr Alieu Jack, the first Speaker of the national assembly, last governor general of the Gambia, and a state minister. They all deserved to be honored, but we will like to ask why were they not honoured? We should realise that whatever our political associations, we are all Gambians and should be treated as such and nothing less. Each citizen should be accorded the rights and privileges he or she deserved both in life and death, and nothing more,” he said.
“Denying citizens burial in their home countries, or giving them anything less than what they deserve in death is reflecting serious intolerance on the side of any government. It just shows that the APRC is bent on fighting their opponents even after death. The cases of Abu Karamba Gassama, and Buba Samura, UDP members of the National Assembly, who met their tragic death in an accident, were refused to be laid in State just because they were UDP, is just another point.