It is unfortunate that until now, almost half a year after the defenestration of Yahya Jammeh, there is still talk of Jammeh loyalists within the ranks of the Gambia National Army. This would not have been worrisome had it been only civilians complaining but the fact that it is the soldiers that still feel that they would have been better off with Jammeh still around makes it a security issue which should be looked into carefully and addressed with utmost urgency.
The problem we have, and continue to have, is the fact that we have not been able to build professional institutions in some cases. The National Army should be a professional body loyal to the Gambian people and not to any individual. The National Army, as servants and protectors of the people, should be loyal to the people, of course through loyalty to any sitting government.
We failed in that area for, it seems that the Army – in the previous regime – was loyal to an individual instead of the Gambian people. The previous government succeeded in making the Army a militia and not a National Force. This was done by weakening the institution and favouring certain influential individuals. As a result, they saw that only this man had their interest at heart.
Now that we have a democratic government, all efforts must be made to make the National Army more professional and a servant of the Gambian people. This support or loyalty to Jammeh is like a cancer which has to be cut off and thrown away before it encompasses large portions of the Army. We should not be complacent that the ECOMIG Forces are here so nothing will happen. These forces cannot be here forever. Plans must be made to restructure the National Army and weed out all those who prefer loyalty to an individual to loyalty to the Gambian People.
The government therefore should seek the advice and assistance of the international community to help look at the Army properly and restructure it in a way that will ensure the safety and security of the President and the stability of the nation. No effort should be spared in this directions, for, we are yearning for development and no development can take place in the absence of peace and security.
Let us build a professional Army which will be able to secure and defend the country even after the departure of the ECOMIG Forces. Work on restructuring the Army. Now!