The current security situation in the country needs urgent attention. There have been a series of incidents which have portrayed your government as one lacking either the ability, and/or the political will to restore stability in the nation. As I keep saying, the first duty of a government is to protect the lives and properties of the citizens of the country.
In the recent past, there have been incidents in Sibanor, Farato, Mankamang Kunda and most recently, Busumbala. Yet, in both the first two incidents – which occurred months ago – not a single arrest has been made. On the last two incidents, we are yet to hear of any arrest either, though investigations are said to be ongoing. We hope that something urgent and serious will be done this time round.
Mr President, these incidents listed above represent a serious failure on the part of your government. You must seek to find a remedy, a lasting solution to the security issues assailing our nation. Development cannot – will not – take place in the absence of peace and stability. It is only when there is peace and stability that citizens will have the opportunity to go out and work for their welfare which is ultimately, the welfare of the nation.
The Constitution of the Republic of the Gambia has given the Gambia Police Force/Service the mandate to enforce the law and ensure the maintenance of law and order. It is the police who should ensure that there is peace; however, the police have not been given the necessary equipment and incentives to do their job to the best of their ability. For instance, everyone knows that the police in this country are not as well paid as they should be. The police should have a good salary which will ensure that they have a dignified life. If they have a happy life, they will surely have the zeal to work hard for the progress of the country.
The police do not have the right equipment to stop or control certain types of crowds. The police should have armoured cars, teargas and all the other gear which will enable them control crowds of that nature. How do we expect the police to go to certain crowds in pickup trucks which will expose them to bodily harm or even loss of lives? The police must have the right gear to be able to do their jobs well. If you give someone a job, you should provide him/her the tools to do it. Equip the police, Mr President.
On the political problems, Mr President, we must remember that that is exactly what they are – political problems. These can only have political solutions and never a military or other solutions. Deploying the armed soldiers in the streets among, and within the civilian populations is not the right thing to do. This will not solve the problem; it may calm the tension for a while but not permanently.
The problem in the country requires a careful, methodical and sustained engagement with stakeholders to resolve. We must look at these problems critically and come up with practical solutions. It is clear that what happened in Busumbala is a culmination of many and varied frustrations and anger among the young people of the country. There is no quick fix to this problem.
For the short term; however, the government should engage all the party leaders, the opinion and religious leaders in a national dialogue with a view to finding a solution. This would preferably be aired on the National Television so that it will reach the widest possible audience. Perhaps, it will calm the situation and prevent future problems.
Remember, the maintenance of peace is as important [perhaps more difficult to do] as attaining it.
Have a Good Day Mr President.