This is the age of economic recessions, political upheaval, terrorism, militant insurgency virtually all over the world, as no continent is immune or spared. Criminals are getting bolder and posing a serious challenge to national and global security. Observers are puzzled by the ease with which militants are operating without recourse to counter state reactions and regulatory laws. As these cases of insecurity exist in countries, economic recession, wars and political instability had overwhelmed most countries with sit-tight high-handed leaders holding firm to power. Leaders like Presidents Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe and Museveni of Uganda to mention a few have been in offices for over twenty five years, and still not willing to relinquish power. So, our own future is in the domain of ALLAH, the creator and sustainer of the universe.
If we always take note of this reality of our limitations, inadequacies and imperfections, we will act with caution and moderation, and this should be informative and instructive mostly to those overseeing the affairs of nations. It is in their best interest to constantly remember that they will certainly be called upon to account to Allah for everything they have done in their leadership positions, and there is no appeal, once we are standing face to face with God as He has evidence of all our actions in this world.
Our lives, our health, well being, our fortunes and future are all in the hands of Allah, our creator and sustainer. We can neither know nor control what happens tomorrow and the rest of the days, months and years ahead. As to the unending corruption, draconic rule and instabilities in The Gambia and Nigeria, they are largely due to our attitude and character in matters relating to government, politics, religion, ethnicity and business. It is like having many good cars and handing them over to bad drivers, the result is many accidents on the roads, because of the bad attitude of the drivers.
Our countries, Nigeria and The Gambia got their independence from the British and started self governing with Parliamentary system of government. While India has fared very well and is acclaimed highly in global technologies, our two countries are still crawling or epileptic in our respective practices. Again the military in both countries chose to create the next political dispensation in their own image by opting for Presidential system, grossly modeled on the American system which is very expensive. This is because all the processes from primaries, to campaigns, to lobbying, to colonies of staff of all categories that run the system. Also the Presidential system depends on the strict adherence to the division of authority among the three arms of governmen; the executive, judiciary and the legislature. Once these checks and balances are not properly observed, the result is particularly dictatorship, like the absurd case in The Gambia under Jammeh.
The current problems, difficulties and crisis the two countries are confronting now in operating the Presidential system arise because of our attitude to politics and government. It is a fact that our economies depend 70-80% on government activities and expenditures at all levels of the government, meaning that unless those who are running the government reduce extreme partisanship, millions of people will be callously denied their livelihood on account of their political affiliation. So our attitude to politics and government of winner takes all, revenge, all sorts of vendetta, vengeance, exclusion and even sadism always leave millions of people behind with nothing to do and nowhere to go. Businesses are run down because of the political affiliation of their owners. In the previous regimes, millions of people were angry, hungry, bitter, desperate and hopeless in the two countries because of the attitude of our leaders and politicians under Presidents Jonathan of Nigeria and Jammeh of The Gambia.
In light of the aforementioned, Gambians and Nigerians owe immense and infinite thanks and appreciation to the Almighty God for coming timely to the rescue of these two countries. Presidents Buhari and Barrow’s ascension to offices at such critical times in our respective government was the greatest blessing in our histories. As the Gambia was under the iron fist and claws of Jammeh.
Nigeria under Jonathan lost full control of our economy and national security. Boko Haram was busy taking over virtually all the local governments in the northern part of Nigeria, particularly under the watch and glee of a sitting President. The people of Nigeria and The Gambia are thanking Allah, and will continue to do so for sending us these two gentlemen that rescued our countries at their point of disintegration and disarray. The growth and decay in draconic leadership and institutionalized corruption were unprecedented in the regimes that handed over to them, as they handed over nothing but baggage of liabilities and mortgaged tomorrow, incredible and embarrassing empty treasuries.
Under Jonathan and Jammeh, dangerous men and youths were recruited, trained and deployed as lethal weapons against political opponents, and used to prosecute elections in their favor. These groups after being used in past elections, turned around to constitute threats and social menace to the larger society.
Nothing can be accomplished in government and politics without acts of terrorism such as kidnapping, abduction and the rest being in play. No government whatsoever, whether it claims to rule by consent or imposes its rule by force can afford to admit that its conducts of the nation’s business is devoid of these acts, as they employ them to keep themselves in power. Political opponents in an attempt to discredit the tenants of power deploy the violence of mass killing, kidnapping and abduction to make electorates lose confidence in the sitting government. These are all empirical findings based on recent researches in contemporary terrorism and allied critical crime matters.
Our politicians’ greatest oversight is to forget that when you train, organize and use people fired by extra religious and political bigotry, they might be using them to achieve their own objectives, but at the end those used could have their own hidden agendas. It was the case with the Taliban, ably represented by Mullah Omar, and their objective was to gain and dispense power in Afghanistan. Osama Bin Laden, leader of Al-Qaida assisted the United States in the Kabul operations against the Soviet Union, Russia, but was the same that founded the most dangerous terrorist organization threatening and frightening the world today. Same goes for Alhaji Mohammed Yusuf, who formed Boko Haram in Nigeria, a group of young men and youths who were recruited, organized, trained and used for political thuggery during past elections in the far northern part of Nigeria. Terrorists are not suspended in the midair; they are recruited and promoted by Political Masters and a few Sovereign States, who provide them classified information, logistics assistance and money. They are in some places offered safe havens, often secured and protected for their operations. In virtually every part of Nigeria, these active militant groups were ethicized and localized to suit the purposes of their existence and aims of their Political Masters and Sovereign States.
In this millennium, the Barrow Presidency and The Gambia have become a glaring mirror into contemporary African tourism and security, and your new role in navigating it will be the most exciting personal study in this century. The Gambia plays a vital role in the developing stories of the world, as what happens here politically, socially and economically in the coming years not only will predict the outcome of the global war on terrorism, it will also shape what the future will look like for both Africa and the world. Your Presidency could be the catalyst to fast trigger these developmental goals. As you stand to assist African Union, Ecowas to take their rightful places in world tourism map and programs, here are my minor inputs. Hope you will find them useful:
1. The Casamance rebels must be closely watched and monitored along a brewing group in the Kanilai enclave. A lot of threatening comments attributed to these groups are being posted and even physically professed, social media bear such comments, and they made fearful observations though they were expected, anticipated, if not projected for obvious political reasons. Iraq and Libya went through the same when their leaders, Presidents Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi were dethroned, Tikrit in Iraq, and Benghazi in Libya have been under raging fire and war till date, orchestrated by tribal supporters of these fallen leaders. This case must be handled adroitly, and we must ignore the way any country handles Casamance rebels, otherwise the spillover could become quite threatening to our collective existence. Rebel groups are like swarm of existing bees, and once stirred or rattled; they spread and become very dangerous.
2. Security studies-Counter terrorism as subjects, to be taught in schools all over the Gambia, at least gradually be introduced. Grants and other incentives be extended to serious and research thirsty Gambian intellectuals who are interested in carrying out detailed researches into the nature and culture of these terrorists especially the suicide prone ones. Knowledge is power; a deeper study of these could unveil some secrets not previously known to the world. They could also be in the lead of studies to develop alternative in hostage negotiations as negotiation techniques appear more successful than combat or rescue missions.
3. All over the Gambia, we must preach a new message of zero corruption and sacrifice, though you have been doing that, and the name President Barrow is becoming a frightening terror to every err- intending public servant in the Gambia, and many Gambian officials have fallen recently under your hammer. The recent dismissals of highly placed Public Servants and Political Functionaries in the Gambia since you assumed office are authentic anti-corruption presidential decisions to your commendation and credit.
4. The cost of governance must be reduced while the cost of taxations increased as a matter of national survival. This will require concession on sacrifice by all groups. Times will be hard; fixing what has been broken will need maximum sacrifice on the part of everyone.
5. Your Excellency Sir, you must through your words, your personal example and the selection of the team around you unite the Gambian nation, by creating a sense of inclusion that gives people of proven honesty, competent roles in your government. The utter and awful mistake of the outgoing regime and ruler of creating a strong appearance and impression of a tribal enclave or cabal must be deliberately avoided. We must dissolve the tendency of a strong “it is our own turn” sentiment among many of our own allies and comrades. This must be strongly resisted. Jammeh’s system of leadership which was identity centered and controlled almost brought the nation to a near collapse. It is our duty to bequeath the Gambia a better one. It is the exhibition of equal concern for all citizens in our regions that will unite the Gambian people and reduce the negative use of ethnic and regional identity in governance. You will have to set the tone for a new era of modesty in all our public servants and services.
Gambians and Nigerians should note that our countries can only survive and progress and prosper once moral and ethical forms and codes are in place. Within this moral code, what is good is obvious and what is bad is also obvious—like killing some body, stealing, cheating, telling lies, breaking established laws, rules and regulations, oppressing people and all acts of transgressions and intrusion. Most of these moral codes are observed in our daily lives as part of our common sense. Chaos and moral corruption result when things happen contrary to common sense and established ways of doing things regularly.
There was so much blood flowing through our countries under the previous regimes, and some of these appeared to have been encouraged and aided by some of our leaders in those regimes, even when such leaders supposed to be role models to our people especially the younger future leaders of our countries. Unfortunately no detergent has been manufactured to cleanse the blood of the dead from the hands of his killers. One wonders what is in this life that will push people especially our leaders to be ordering for the killing of their enemies and political opponents. It is time we all went home to rescale our priorities.
So, we should all be thanking Allah for the gifts of you and President Buhari, at least such flow of blood is in the past for now. And that in His All-Knowing nature and Mercies will send us nation builders through the political, economic and social stages and processes. Well done so far, we are all praying for The Gambia and your Presidency, Barrow Presidency.
Dr. Ifedimma, Joseph Sunny Moneke is a PhD, Research, Counterterrorism Expert,