President Yaya Jammeh whose ruled the smallest country on the African continent inherited a reasonably well-managed economy whose per capita GDP was the third highest in the 16-Member regional body known as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in July 1994.
Once the dictatorship took control of the country, the economy became one of the victims of a regime that never allowed the market mechanisms to operate freely, resulting in market, as well as budget dislocations resulting in slow economic growth and development. An economy that was once at near the top of the ECOWAS table was relegated to the bottom. The incidence of poverty, particularly rural poverty steady rose over time, agricultural production and receipts from tourism declined. Unemployment, especially youth unemployment rose to alarming rates, contributing, in part, to the mass exodus of young Gambians to Europe, making Gambia a major exporter of human capital. In the first ten months this year alone, 10,000 Gambians have made their way into Europe.
The failure of the Gambian leader to make good on his promise to the youth and women - two important demographics - is among the reasons for Jammeh's unexpected defeat. The confiscation of the fundamental rights and freedoms of expression and association of, coupled with the harsh human rights environment that saw thousands of Gambians and non-Gambians alike tortured, killed, maimed, exiled, extra-judicially executed and falsely imprisoned led to a massive shift in support for the ruling party that led to the the victory of a real estate developer with on government or any public service experience named Adama Barrow. He led a seven-party coalition and an independent candidate for the presidency which contributed immensely to the defeat of the incumbent dictator.
The multi-party coalition comprising of all of the functioning parties is a fete made possible by public demands of voters who see it as the only way of providing a credible challenge to a despot who has the advantage of incumbency with state assets and the public treasury at his disposal.
Despite the built-in advantages of incumbency, Jammeh was surprised by the vast resources that was put at the disposal of the coalition candidate by Gambians in the Diaspora that included online fund raisers, online radio and television publicity campaign using a multiplicity of social media platforms that dispersed campaign information to all corners of the country.
All forms of social media platforms were employed by Gambians living abroad (mainly in the United State, Canada, Europe and Africa) to penetrate the Gambian hinterland that was starved of information about a regime that meticulously and routinely concealed information from the population. Social media played a critical role in penetrating the wall that shielded the population from the human rights abuses, rampant corruption and the ineptitude of a tyrannical regime that finally succumbed to the will of the Gambian people through the ballot box. In other words, when the veil dropped, the nakedness of the emperor was exposed.