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Letters: ECOMIG troops along The Gambia-Senegal border- A national and international security perspective

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Dear editor,

The deployment of ECOMIG troops along the Gambia-Senegal border  is a strategic response to threats of organized criminal groups, including the low level insurgent group in Southern Senegal  involved in cross border illicit activities in exploitation of resources, drugs, arms and human trafficking.

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In the past two decades, the Gambia has been a hub for transnational organized criminal groups actively involved in the illicit trade. With the threats of terrorist groups expanding reaches and influence in the region, the deployment of ECOMIG troops along the Gambia-Senegal border is very much inline with both national and international security interests.

Nationally, troop deployment along the border strengthens democratic gains of the past five years and the functions of regional institutions  in a region  threatened by  the  resurgence of military coups as seen in Guinea- Conakry, Mali and now Burkina- Faso. These coups brought to light  two core questions requiring concrete answers to understand the future role of ECOWAS in the region: (1) Has ECOWAS been consistent and flexible in its mediation, peace keeping and peace enforcement roles in the application of its protocols?  (2) Has the state lost confidence in regional institutions  as a result of inconsistencies and the lack of flexibility?

Internationally, ECOMIG troops will deter the  expansion of reaches for transnational organized groups from South America and Eastern Europe.. Evidence in the past two decades suggests that  these groups have used the Gambia as a transhipment hub due to weak institutions, the  proximity to markets in Europe and an easy transit for locations in Africa and Asia. 

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Perhaps  ECOMIG should be working hand in hand with their Gambian counterparts in the form of joint operations along the border to better  prepare Gambian troops to continue the role by the end of the ECOMIG mandate.

Binneh Minteh

Letter2Editor

Distracting The Scorpions

Dear editor,

So last night [Monday], I was texting with a buddy after the Gambia-Guinea game and I mentioned my admiration for some of the Gambian players and how I love their game. My buddy, who knows some of those players, immediately offered to introduce me to one particular player whom I was told also admires me a lot. I don’t know why because even I don’t admire myself. Anyway, as much as I thought my buddy’s heart was in the right place, I declined the introduction and here’s why:

I read a story about Nigerian players during this tournament and how anyone that thinks they are somebody has been calling the players to encourage them, or pledging this amount of money or that gift, should the players score goals or win this or that match. And oftentimes, these pledges and phone calls to the players are somehow publicized because as you know, many of us are sunshine patriots. Our patriotism somehow only bubbles to the fore when we are winning! It’s easy to love when the times are good. It’s easy to support when the team is winning. And it’s very easy to be a patriot when the lights are on.

Personally, I find the phone calls, pledges and whatnot, to be more about massaging the egos of those making the publicized phone calls or publicized pledges, than it is about encouraging the team. If material benefits are our sole motivation, would you wonder why thieves thrive in The Gambia? Our understanding of morale and welfare is so limited.

The author of the article I read writes that the various phone calls and pledges of money for this goal or that win became a distraction to the players. Some of these “important” people were even allowed to address the Nigerian team at half time! Can you imagine my Bandam sleepily giving the team a motivational talk?

I don’t know if this is the case or if it applies to the team, but I certainly don’t want to be a distraction to the team in any way especially in these crucial stages when maximum concentration is required. We have already seen one of the players telling Bakary Badjie to tell Adama Barrow that they want a piece of land in Brufut! Whether this was a joke or not, I find it problematic in so many ways.

Not that the GFA will listen to folks like me but if they would, I will tell them to ensure the team remains focused. Many of us will want to use their success to shine the lights on ourselves but in so doing, we will only be a distraction to the required focus. Patriots won’t distract a winning national team. To those of you angling yourself to steal the shine of the team and make yourselves visible or take credit for their success, please take a deep breath and let the team enjoy their success. You can enjoy without being the center of attention. Ken dula hejemal sa plasas. We know you want the credit. We know you are important. We know you are all that and a bag of maize. We know if it wasn’t for you, the sun would not have risen this morning but please, ngirr sungne borom, fi allah, just esabarri and take a chill pill. The light of others does not deem yours in any way. Don’t be a freaking distraction mein!

Attention is a drug, once taken, it can turn you into an attention fiend. Please don’t be a distraction! Let the GFF, the coaching team and the players motivate themselves. Our support of them as a people is a huge motivator. You don’t have to stand out in your support! You can support the team without somehow focusing the camera lens on yourself!

Alagie Saidy-Barrow

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