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City of Banjul
Monday, November 30, 2020

Barrow Presidency, our idle youths and schools

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Back from a recent trip to Nigeria and the Gambia, sitting alone in the quiet of the night in my study in England, I began to soliloquize and ponder over what has happened to a few of our East, North and West African countries that became distressed owing to sectarian unrests—Nigeria, Kenya, Sudan, Somalia, Egypt, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast, Congo DRC, Rwanda, and mostly recently Mali and Burkinafaso, that hitherto enjoyed relative peace and tranquility. What must have disrupted the serenity these countries so much enjoyed before these emerging disorders? Why these alarming waves of consternation, pandemonium, hurly-burly and extreme acrimony, that were once glaringly absent in our regional blood, culture, race and communal existence? Our lands have been made regular theaters for bloodbath, with our brothers and sisters as victims. Men who are supposed to be family heads are lacking, as women and children have assumed leadership in homes. Why, wars, sectarian crisis and ethic cleansing had claimed the lives of such men. The frightening danger and implication in this whole madness is the vicious cycle replication, as children born into these homes grow up to know they were orphaned by these hostilities. They join the same war of hate, bitterness, rage, retaliation, unforgiveness, killing and attrition, which is exactly what terrorism, is all about. My nightmares continued to grow with the avalanche of people crisscrossing their own borders, note this, their own borders as refugees. This is both heart-bleeding and renting at the same time, especially the sorry sights of sick malnourished babies clinging tenaciously to the sickening empty breasts of their ill-fed mothers to suck emptiness.

Sixteen days ago, flashpoint from CNN, BBC, FOX etc reported vicious terror attacks in Egypt, the same old tourism safe haven of Africa, where 26 people were earlier killed in churches barely a month before this. This time, 7 Soldiers, 3 Policemen and 13 Civilians lost their lives. Same day, but not the same time, UN Soldiers came under serious ambush at the border point between Burkinafaso and Mali. Several militants were killed, while we lost 3 peacekeeping soldiers. Recall that this was the same area in Mali and Burkinafaso that came under severe attack recently with significant casualties. Nine days ago, I watched vivid pictures of a training session in our sub region, where boys and girls of 6-10 years were undergoing terrorism drills and suicide orientations. As a parent, these pictures were very painful and disturbing recollections, as these children were supposed to be either in schools, moral studies centers, churches or mosques by the time of these indoctrinating absurdities.

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As if the aforementioned transpirations were not enough, yesterday, I read of an open invitation in Afghanistan specifically requesting for 300 suicide terror volunteers, and surpringly 630 showed up. Mind you please, this was a call for those who were ready and willing to be sent for an early death assignment by their terror organizations. Don’t mistake this for a call to live or exist, yet they had an excess of 330 volunteers on their waiting list. In the scenario, a drama emerged in a candidate by name, NADAL, who for feeble reasons was not chosen, so he remained there crying loud, screaming and asking for a desperate slot

surprisingly. I noted that the bulk of these volunteers reported or responded from
Schools and colleges. So our schools, especially the public ones are gradually becoming soft bellies, where terrorists and criminal groups scout for volunteers. Consequently, there exists a glaring and pressing need for us to quickly move into schools to disseminate urgent messages and counter terror programs. Most public schools in Nigeria, The Gambia, Bissau, Senegal, Mali etc have been relegated to the background while the private schools strive and flourish. School able children are dropping out of public schools, either to roam about in our streets, drinking and smoking. Some of them join the legion of Europe bound pasture seekers, or fraternize with terrorist groups. The risk and danger of this current state of affairs in our public schools, is that we are inadvertently creating successive generations of poorer, barely educated, unskilled, hopeless and angry children of the poor, side by side with increasing richer, private school educated, skilled and optimistic children of the privileged. It is a raging imminent demographic and social time bomb ticking, as the poor and hopeless are easy recruits of insurgents, violent Politicians and criminal groups. Only your kind of Presidency Sir, will understand and appreciate this upcoming social catastrophe and do something concrete about it with the urgency it deserves. It was these well organized public schools during our days that enabled people of humble, poor background, like you and me, Mr. President to rise and attain the highest positions in our national polity, catching in on luck, opportunities, handwork and abilities. Your history and destiny say it all, Your Excellency.

Nigerian Youths, so also the Gambians and other countries in the sub region are being trucked or ferried out in thousands weekly through our borders to Libya to access European or Asian countries. These chaotic exoduses, as a matter of urgency and social responsibility must be controlled, regulated or stopped as we are losing a greater number of our future strength unchecked. The rate of these movements is alarming as no one cares to know where these “backdoor syndrome bound travelers are ending up. They are not all heading to Europe as expected, a few of them have been found in fragments in Pakistan , Afghanistan, Nigeria, Mali, Syria, Yemen, Casamance riverside points for extreme religious and ideological reasons. The region and the individual countries within it must as a matter of unified regional strategy towards arresting these tides on time. States need to set up counseling and information centers to profile these travelers and returnees from such trips. It is no longer these travelers’ private affairs or lives, because they are state properties and need to be protected.

Many of them in this whole crazy whiff to access Europe are fearlessly ready to dare the fury, wicked, aggressive and stormy seas, and oceans in countries towards their destinations. As they openly boast about their courage, readiness, to die in these movements. And these are the kind of courage, tenacity, audacity and doggedness required for enlistment into the armed forces and the security agencies. A conscious and well planned effort be put in place to vibrantly

identify, recruit and harness these ones for possible enlistment. Another group that posses an interesting case for millennium research lies in the ADULT, UNEDUCATED, UNSKILLED YOUTHS, I chose to consciously qualify them in these manners because they have out grown most forms of formal schools and tutorial centers. These are the ones that routinely gather under trees and shades in our villages devouring pots of locally brewed concoctions and alcohol. In the cities, they stray and parade our streets talking big, looking big, dressing big, and dreaming big, but with a certain crystal clear doomed future. In economics, they are called, CANADIDATES OF HIGH EXPECTATIONS AND REGULAR VICTIMS OF LOW RETURNS. And they are all over the countries in our sub region—Mali, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Nigeria, the Gambia, Guinea and the rest. Our states must come up with very vibrant informal arrangements to compel, entice, and lure such adults and youths to schools or vocational centers. This will be optimally initiated and achieved under your immediate presidential supervision.  Those who think that the cost of education is expensive should have a rethink; they will soon realize that the cost of illiteracy is far more expensive. Illiteracy will lead to robbery, killing, and terrorism.

Concluding, most observers in the Gambia are dissatisfied not with you, but with the past regime for grounding virtually every sector of our system. Gambia was a few miles away from instituted monarchy, as the public could not draw a distinction between the national treasuries and the ruling individual’s dynasty, empire or funds. This was a very clear case of tort and aberration, we all saw it was unacceptable but no one could bail the cat. Allah in his mercies singularly intervened by wresting out power from the mouth of this lion all alone. A feat even ECOMIG couldn’t have done without a serious price or sacrifice. Let’s therefore leave all the ugly past that transpired behind and forge forward to greater heights. We need all the public funds that will be spent on commission of Inquiries and the rest to write infrastructural signatures in this regime. The Gambia does not need to waste such public funds probing one single individual or an entity. Such Inquiries so set up in Nigeria only rekindled past memories of woes, animosity, pains, and pangs. The new Gambia of Barrow presidency’s debate must not be unduly polarized, but built on a bipartisan approach to bring to a quiet, peaceful end to President Jammeh’s lengthy and costly regime, his stint and stench in office deserves a debate that prizes substance over rhetoric , a deliberate policy that will move us forward , not backwards.

As I indicated interest to pursuing a doctorate degree in counter terrorism in England, my supervisor, Prof Ian Marsh asked me to provide a synopsis of my study intent. I quickly sent in and dedicated a whole chapter on OSAMA BIN LADEN. During his corrections, he had these to say: “why should you devote a whole chapter of your strenuous studies to promote and project the atrocities and evil archives of a single terrorist to the larger world, even to the countries that never knew he existed”, he went further to ask, “ don’t you have other, more

decent, educative facts to communicate to the world than entirely him, x-ray him
in few lines, please”. In the same manner His Excellency, the new Gambia under your presidency must not be held in prostration by Jammeh’s past absurd stories, lets move forward as the hours are been far spent on something Allah has long taken care of.

Your Excellency, the job of a President is demanding and it is not an office to be held by the feeble in age, health, education and experience. This is why we are eternally grateful that ALLAH gave us a personality like you, who has all these positive qualities. This is a government of the people, as virtually everybody in our streets, men, women, boys and girls, tired drunks, smokers, market people, the elites, the exiled even sneaked in to cast their votes for you. The votes were all from our hearts, not by the barrels of the guns.

These same people who voted for you need social security, and such is translated in cheaper and affordable homes, clothing and the rest.
These same people who stood and dared to be crushed by the past regime in a desperate effort to  vote for you, need food security that is in the area of cheaper sugar, rice, oil, soap, tea, drinks etc.

These same people who vowed to fight with every drop of their blood to achieve Barrow Presidency, need national security, protections from robbers, bandits, terrorists and the rest. A well prepared community policing network by all the services. You have started very well, do not lose momentum at all or be discouraged. The Gambians, the guests in your midst and our brotherly regional countries are praying for you always. The Gambia will rise again as giants. We must attempt to address these expectations within the infancy of this administration. Your acceptance to ascend the position of the President with all the frightening liabilities is a bull dog challenge. Having accepted the challenge, contested and won the position, and had declared this a new Gambia, all the negativities associated with the past regime must be extinct for ever, and the Gambia will no longer be treated with disdain and ignominy under your presidency. The Gambia will rise to become the impenetrable rock of GIBRALTAR, and finally the AMSTEL. The Gambians will once again beam out their usual infectious smiles that earned them SMILING COAST OF AFRICA.  Well done on your tour of the region, it was quite commended and appreciated by all the countries. Make effort to visit Nigeria regardless of all odds, we are aware the health of the Nigerian President could be a reason. Allah will assist you in taking these decisions.

DR. IFEDIMMA, JOSEPH SUNNY
MONEKE
PHD, RESEARCHED
COUNTERTERRORISM EXPERT,
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND.

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