President Adama Barrow’s Independence Day address centered on sovereignty. According to him “The Gambia’s attainment of political Independence on 18th February, 1965 was chiefly about sovereignty and self-determination,” and went on to state that “our sovereignty should be measured, therefore, by the extent of our security as a nation and as individuals.” Mr Barrow falsely claimed that his administration “will continue to defend the sovereignty of the country, and protect the freedoms and liberties of the people”.
President Adama Barrow’s entire speech was bizarre, inappropriate and deceptive. The meaning of his statement “our sovereignty should be measured therefore by the extent of our security as a nation and as individuals” is an indication that Mr Barrow did not know what he was talking about. It is inappropriate to address the nation about sovereignty when we have foreign security forces in the country. The Gambia’s security is currently in the hands of foreign occupying forces which are funded by foreign powers. Sovereignty is not only about political parties and the ability of citizens to elect leaders but also about control of territorial integrity and the affairs of the country.
Our self-determination which is the right of citizens to make informed decision on national issues was rejected by the president and his cronies when they refused to accept the new draft constitution. The rejection of such an important document is further demonstration that this administration has no respect for self-determination. The administration’s invitation of foreign leaders to negotiate aspects of the rejected draft constitution and to make recommendations or decisions on behalf of Gambian people is against the principle of self-determination and sovereignty. The Gambian people have determined that they wanted to have a new constitution. The Constitution Review Commission consulted widely with Gambians. President Barrow could not make any intelligent decision on this new draft constitution due to political expediency. Now he has invited a foreign leader to clean up his mess. This is indeed pathetic!
Both our political and national security decisions are influenced and determined by foreign leaders. Recently Ecowas leaders, without consultation with Gambian people and political leaders, unilaterally decided to extend the mandate of the Ecomig force and change it into a police stabilisation force to be stationed here beyond the December 2021 presidential election. The citizens and political leaders should have been widely consulted before such an important national security decision is made. In fact, it should have been debated in our National Assembly and a decision reached before Ecowas takes their decision.
Therefore, our current political and national security situations are true indications that our sovereignty and self-determination as a nation are undermined and have been hijacked. Mr Barrow needs to be honest in his speech to the nation. He cannot continue to peddle the false narrative to young people and general public at large. The theme of this year independence anniversary speech was very deceptive considering the political and security situation in the country. Mr Barrow needs to surround himself with people with integrity and intelligence who truly understand policies, international laws, politics as well as the socio-economic needs of the Gambian people. It is pathetic to see him appoint individuals with six grade education as a policy and political advisers.