By Omar Bah
Former secretary general, Momodou Sabally, has expressed his disappointment over the country’s current security situation. He said the security predicament is creating genuine concern for all Gambians.
“If we are not concerned about our own safety and welfare, at least we should be alarmed by the potential of our country to be used as a base for such dangerous organisations like al-Qaeda in the Maghreb because all the elements necessary for such an explosive situation have now manifested themselves,” he said.
He said the Barrow government’s miscalculation “is simply occasioned by lack of focus and prioritisation. What else would you expect if a transitional government that is tasked with legal and institutional reforms, gets drunk with power and embarks on political campaigns to win voters even before the basic benchmarks of the globally supported transitional benchmarks are attained?”
“With foreign forces taking care of his personal security and that of his family President Barrow took national security reforms to the back burner and thereby jeopardise the nation’s security,” he said.
Sabally argued that the mass youth unemployment, the availability of hard drugs in huge quantities, coupled with mass deportation of disillusioned youths from Europe could be fertile ground for recruitment activities of terror groups. “There is an alarming trend of voluntary resignation of soldiers from our national army mainly due to unfavourable conditions of service.
It is a fact that our men and women in uniform have been demoralised by a government that does not care about anything expect their own personal safety and financial security,” he said.
The continued unjustifiable presence of Ecomig, Sabally added, “is both a bane for the morale of our security officers and a potential weakening of our national security systems due to past nefarious activities of regional peace keeping forces in countries like Guinea and Liberia.”
“Our record in terms of importing foreign security forces has not been pretty. The Jammeh-led 1994 coup had a lot to do with the Nigerian command then heading our national army. And before that, the Senegalese forces that guarded former President Jawara left unannounced, creating an unexpected void in our national security setup,” he said.
He added: “With foreign troops afforded the privilege and honour of guarding the commander-in-chief of our armed forces and our own troops wallowing in the squalour of poor salaries as well as inadequate logistics, how do you expect these men and women to perform at optimum levels.
“It is quite evident that the State Security Services (SIS) is now a de facto political wing of the fledgling Barrow political incumbency called the National People’s Party (NPP). Intelligence gathering and analysis is a relentless tedious time-consuming activity. If the top echelon of this critical national security outfit is busy canvassing support for the President’s political party and arranging audiences for political allies with the President, how can they effectively carry out their official mandate?
“A UDP government, led by a thoroughbred lawyer would prioritise legal reforms and hit the ground running with security sector reforms. A Darboe-led government would not destroy the morale of our national security officials by unduly retaining foreign forces and giving them the privilege of providing security for our own commander-in-chief. Such a government of sound technocrats would know that national security is the backbone of our socio-economic progress and therefore act accordingly in the pecking order of our development needs.”