By Amadou Jadama on tour
The Chief of Defence Staff of the Gambia Armed Forces, Lieutenant General Yakuba Drammeh has issued a stern warning to the men and women of the GAF to refrain from politics and tribalism as the country is heading towards the December election.
He was addressing soldiers Monday at Njongon, Kerr Pateh and Farafenni military camps, as he began his nationwide tour of military deployments in the country.
The purpose of the tour is for the CDS to articulate his vision as well as have an interface and direct dialogue with troops under his command in order to gather first hand information with regard to their working and living conditions.
“As a fine institution like the military, we cannot afford to take part in political activities. We are not politicians, we are soldiers, we are pragmatic soldiers. Once we can earn the trust and confidence of the people as brothers and sisters in uniform, let us stay away from politics,” he said.
The CDS advised the troops to remain a credible force warning that “anytime we are outside of our perimeter to engage ourselves into politics is a recipe for disaster. Stay away from politics. We cannot exercise our allegiance openly. Gone are those days when we engaged ourselves into political wagons,” he said.
To illustrate his point, CDS Drammeh informed the soldiers that personally he had never attended a political rally and he does not expect any soldier to do so, warning that anyone found doing that would not be taken lightly.
However, he informed them they have a constitutional right to obtain a voter’s card and urged his men and women to register.
He further implored them to refrain from tribalism, warning that as the last line of national unity, GAF cannot afford to be divided on tribal lines.
“We cannot afford to be divided on tribal or political grounds. We amply demonstrated that during the political impasse of 2016 when we remained together even though some attempted to divide us. If we can do it yesterday, I want to believe that today we can do the same. So Let us remain united,” CDS Drammeh urged.
Njaga Joof, the Alkalo of Njongon welcomed the CDS and delegation and highlighted the constraints facing the soldiers, among them lack of water, electricity and mobility and appealed to the CDS to assist them. In response, CDS Drammeh assured them that their welfare is his priority, promising that the water shortage will be addressed as soon as possible. He gave similar assurances to soldiers in Kerr Pateh.
The CDS and team also visited the Ghanaian contingent of ECOMIG at Fort Bullen. The tour continues.