The law of unintended consequence and the phrase for that matter is bandied around quite liberally in politics and for good reason. It’s always the unintended consequences that seem to take precedent when a big change occurs. This is the case with the events surrounding the registration and subsequent break of the original NADD project.
Most of the focus has been on the collective temper tantrum opposition supporters on either side of the debate have been throwing. Rants against each other aside, there seems to be one giant unintended consequence of this early break up: shifting the momentum and jiggering an easy landslide for the APRC.
So how did the law of unintended consequence come to pass in the case of NADD? The Gambia Journal has what I believe to be one of the best summation of the conundrum that led to the fallout and breakup of NADD. It all hinges on that single act: registering NADD as a party. Either by willful machination or by gullible mistake some in the executive decided to register the alliance as a political party, notwithstanding the advice of one of the Gambia’s most celebrated lawyer who happens to be a member of the executive. Of particular interest is this paragraph:
At the time, we thought the registration of NADD at the IEC was a mere mistake, but a type of mistake unbecoming of a leadership that is never done projecting its intellectualism, maturity and professionalism. Now, from hindsight and from facts that the Gambia Journal have gathered, what looked like an innocent mistake could have been a deliberate ploy by some members of the coalition leadership. We have gathered from reliable sources that UDP’s Mr. Darbo, who is a lawyer by profession, had strongly advised the NADD executive against registering the coalition at the IEC (Independent Electoral Commission) in the organizational form they had adopted. Being unable to convince his colleagues Mr. Darbo decided on washing his hands off the registration process. The then NADD Chairman, the venerable Assan Musa Camara, was assigned to meet Mr. Darbo and bring him back on board for the registration exercise. At Mr. Darbo’s office Mr. Camara had everything laid out for him in such a way that he was alarmed and worried at the erroneous decision to register NADD in the manner that they did. Mr. Sallah, the NADD coordinator, was out of the country but his colleague Mr. Sam Sarr was around. Mr. Camara hurriedly took to the phone and got Sarr, asking him to go to the IEC office and withdraw the registration papers immediately. Mr. Sarr promised the Chairman that he would do that. In reality Sarr never went back to withdraw those papers. Hidden behind this case is one of the problems that were to finally lead to the fall out that was to come almost a year later in February 2006.
If you believe what the Journal is reporting in the above paragraph, then Sam Sarr was deceitful and insubordinate to the chairman of the alliance when he promised to go and withdraw the registration papers because he was part of the group that has the following scheme in mind:
Other members of the NADD Executive were adamant on pursuing the registration process. Their tactical thinking was that by registering NADD, they would commit all parties in the alliance irrevocably to it. If this could be achieved, then UDP and NRP would have their rear blocked; there would be no turning back for them. The registration was completed; the parties that had seats in the assembly lost them after contesting it in court. Now it is believed that all of them have reached a point of no return and that all that parties have be leveled to equal status and that no party dare to withdraw from the NADD Alliance, as doing that would be committing political suicide. In this way a showdown became impossible between the major and the minor parties of the NADD alliance that has now been hijacked into a “party.”…Gambiajournal.com
And again that famous phrase “unintended consequence” rear its ugly head. The political calculation of the registration group(Sam and Co.) is akin to the act of gerrymandering so pervasive and hated in American politics.
Of course, the real test of the law of unintended consequences will be in about a month when we look back and realize that if only NADD had stay as an alliance and not get bog down in the legal albatross that came about due to its registration as a party, then we will shake our heads in a collective acknowledgement of what my elementary school teacher used to call “had I known shall never be known”. Only in this case the parties responsible for the registration of NADD had known what the consequences of their actions are. How? Because they were told by one of their own. They just happened to have something else in mind.