By Muhammed Teks Tekanyi
The not so “New Gambia” comes with a daily flow of interesting events with the recent one being the appointment of Mr. Alagie Barrow a former US officer and part of the December 30th 2014 attackers on the State House as the Head of Research and Investigation of the Truth, Reconciliation and Repatriation Commission. An appointment that has despite commendations from some fractions of Gambians, brought a lot of controversies of which the bulk sits on the issue of conflict of interest of the appointee with regard to his would-be duties in relation to his involvement in the aforementioned attack.
However many have centered their arguments on his academic qualifications and gifted critical thinking skills to support his appointment while forgetting the overt conflict of interest he wears as a cap based on his previous integral involvement in an attack on the former sitting government whose ills he is chosen to investigate and as well as the emotional weakness he continues to demonstrate both on social media and offline with regard to the same ills of the late regime.
Moreover, knowledge of research and its emphasis in the curbing of study bias to accord the getting of accurate results particularly for a sensitive and delicate exercise like the TRRC indicates the limited importance critical thinking and academic qualifications carry when compared to impartiality in meeting the objectives of such an important study. Therefore, the abovementioned weaknesses of Mr. Barrow despite his admirable academic qualifications and excellent critical thinking skills have rendered his appointment as head of research and investigation a threat to both the integrity and gross recognition of the TRRC and its results respectively.
Yes! We can rightly argue that Jammeh and his government cost our country and her people immense shortcomings hence the need for such an important would-be exercise but we cannot afford to compromise its function like did to the Janneh Commission with the conflicting interest of Amie Bensouda as lead counsel because this one is the determinant pillar of our desire for closure from the ills of the past which when done rightly, would send firm warning to all would-be perpetrators of what awaits them on committing ill in The Gambia.
Furthermore, I did recognize the arguments of some on the lack of availability of non victims of the former regime by virtue of their beliefs that everyone was either a direct or indirect victim which however isn’t true because there are people both qualified and never victims of the last regime nor were they supporters of it either but if we are to buy their argument of everyone being a victim, it would by far be better to appoint an indirect than a direct victim of the former government to minimize the level of conflict of interest to which Mr. Barrow fits the latter group as a citizen.
However, here are a few questions:
Will the December 30th attack be researched about? If yes, is Mr. Barrow suitable to research about what he was involved in as both a planner and a “victim”?
Has anyone of you ever heard of an author conduct a research of which he/she is a subject?
How is Mr. Barrow’s would-be involvement in the TRRC any different from Mr. Almamy Taal’s moderation of the KMC mayoral debate as UDP spokesperson?
Moreover,, one fundamental thing we need to note with objectivity is that the work of the administrative staff which includes the research findings of Mr. Barrow’s would-be unit are the foundations on which the commissioners of the TRRC will build on in hearing the accounts of the witnesses and victims thus making the research and investigation much more valuable exercises than the hearing itself and must therefore be done with the highest degree of impartiality to give the results of the TRRC the most minimal bias.
Differently, our biggest challenge as Gambians is the difficulty in addressing issues with frankness when people of our relation and/or knowledge are involved and this has been an expenditure for us and many years of stagnation for our nation. But gain yes, the big brother Mr. Barrow like the proprietor of “Building New Gambia”, has the academic and critical thinking ranks visibly seen on his shoulders but are rather both short of the emotional strength to address issues of the past with objectivity. This however isn’t their fault because it is very humane to be emotional but must not also be ignored due to the high price it carries when risked using for the consequences can be taller than Mount Everest.
Finally, if Gambians made mistake in accepting the ’94 coup because of the 33 years of Jawara, we shouldn’t repeat it by accepting another coup for the 22 years of Jammeh else it will no more be a mistake but GROSS NEGLIGENCE!
I hope Mr. Alagie Barrow considers his integrity over the noise of the noisemakers on the streets by honourably declining the appointment to pave way for many greater opportunities for self in the nearest future.