By Mafugi Ceesay
A former senior army officer and minister, Sheriff Gomez, has told The Standard that The Gambia must urgently fast-track efforts on security reforms so that citizens become reassured by the new security architecture and services.
He said this would mitigate the urge and spread of rumours based on no valid evidence.
“Such security reforms, restructuring and reorganising should include training, capacity development, security services mandates, inter-(security) service work collaboration and linkages. In the same vein, it should be comprehensive enough to positively enhance and impact the motivation and morale of service personnel – men and women of the services – enabling them to commit to their roles and responsibilities that the country has entrusted them”.
“We have seen the furtherance of the reforms through the undertaking of the defence policy drafting and credit should indeed go to the government. It should also be recognized that there are security sector reform documents being developed and that is an encouraging trend but committing to consistency of work on the Security Sector Reform is urgent, critical and must be followed through, so that servicemen and women have the requisite capacity, within a lean and professional security architecture, committed to reassuring and winning the trust of the Gambian people. This is necessary to enable people to go out and about their businesses with full confidence that the security services in place can and will take care of their security concerns. Ensuring that the increasing incidents of security lapses such as armed robberies and carjacking are nipped in the bud. Of Course, the preamble, once incidents happened, must include thorough investigation, lapses questioned and looked into and comprehensive report developed, with concrete recommendations submitted on what went wrong, who needs to do what and particularly instructive for the security services to take the necessary measures to ensure security breaches or lapses of such nature don’t happen,” he noted.
Gomez said it is a concern too that Ecomig has been here for this long because foreign forces in a sovereign state, in any part of the world, would have some negative impact on self-esteem and sovereignty of that state.
“A prolonged stay of such a force will in one way or the other create problems like resentment and disagreement on whether there is a need. But of course, there was no doubt in 2016-17 that Gambians wholeheartedly welcomed the Ecomig; and indeed, they have done a tremendous job for the country and we cannot thank them enough.”
Are Gambian security services abandoned by Barrow?
Mr Gomez said: “I don’t think also that the security services have been abandoned by the president. Yes, there seems to be a security challenge in the country, and we need to understand what is the cause and deal with it, so that we don’t fuel speculation and start making assumptions that are not driven by evidence. I think this will be unfair to the government or the security services. We should continue to encourage and engage the security services and urge the Government to move steadfastly towards the direction of reforms in order to embolden the security to take national duties more responsibly for that is their mandate.”