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Saturday, June 15, 2024

Eulogy for a comrade in arms: an officer, a brother, and a retired Gambia National Army Commander Maba Jobe

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When news broke that Retired Major Maba Jobe has answered Allah’s call. I ask myself, why him? Rhetorical as the question was, I realised it was a passible moment for me because of the special bond we had forged from a young age.

He and I joined the Gambia National Gendarmerie at the same time, in the year 1982. Both our fathers were also veterans (military and police). Furthermore, we also rose through the ranks in almost lockstep rapid pace –achieving the ranks of Captain at the age of 23 years old as part of the pioneers of what is today the Gambian Armed Forces. We were close friends and had our fair share of youthful exuberance; we quarrelled at times but there has been an unshakeable bond and loyalty to each other, which is something our spouses can attest to.

Despite our young age at the time, we were entrusted with roles that required high degree of discipline and professionalism, and with which came enormous responsibility. Tenderness of age did not hamper our abilities to maintain the very high standards as would have been expected of our respective Services. We were friends but very competitive between each other. We performed gallantly and with valour. I can say that was a direct attribute to mentoring and guidance of our respective veteran fathers

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Although serving in different Services, we strived hard to make sure experiences were shared, and it was no mere coincidence that we eventually accelerated on to higher positions of responsibility and greater accountability.

Maba was a great Soldier. After graduating from the United Kingdom Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst in 1984, he returned to The Gambia and experienced a rapid career progression from Platoon Commander, to Company Commander. This period coincided with the formation of the Gambia National Army (GNA) in 1985. He subsequently completed his Infantry Officers’ advanced course in the United States.

The late Maba was deployed to Liberia as part of what was the Ecomog Gambian contingent charged with the operational responsibility to enforce peace in Liberia. As faith would have it, when Colonel Ndow Njie retired as GNA commander, the late Maba, then a Major became the GNA Commander, as there was no such thing as Chief of Defence Staff at the time.

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Due to a change in government policy, his tenure as GNA chief was brief, as the Nigerian Army subsequently took over command of the GNA shortly afterwards around 1992.

The late Maba also served in the Diplomatic Corps. He served The Gambia as a diplomat in the UK, and the pinnacle of his diplomatic career saw him serve as The Gambia’s High Commissioner to the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Having left State employment he re-established himself as a security consultant, the success of which business venture would not have been a surprise to anyone who knew his dedication, commitment and the depths of his knowledge in security affairs.

As retired service personnel we maintained contact to continue to share our sense of brotherhood. So, I have certainly lost a true brother and for sure I will miss him. Good Bye Old Boy and sleep well, until we meet again. May the sacred Angels guide you through to a dignified journey and entry into the solemn gates of Heaven.

Anyone who knew him will surely attest to his no-nonsense disposition. He had nothing except his honour. A grandson of his namesake, the Maba Jahu Bah in our history books.

The late Retired Major Maba Jobe dedicated so much of his life to duty and the service of our nation; he’s marked his stamp in the history of our nation and within whose historic space he’s earned a merited place without doubt. He was no doubt  a “Sui Generis” among his peers.

Please join me in praying that the Almighty Allah receives him in the highest Heavens.

Ebrima Ismaila Chongan

Rtd Assistant Inspector General of The Gambia Police Force.

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