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Thursday, October 1, 2020

Special homage to His Excellency, Sheikh, Professor, Alhaji, Dr Yahya AJJ Jammeh

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After 20 years of hard work, we have, by every assessment of what a great leader he has been to the country, agreed to applaud him for his resilience in transforming The Gambia from what was evidently a failing neo-colonial African nation into a successful and free post-colonial territory. 

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In the process however, I cannot but touch briefly on the doom-fated armed incursion by foreign-backed terrorists, reported in The Gambia on Tuesday 30 December 2014. From the evidence gathered so far, it is fair to state that it was déjà vu all over again – a group of Gambian mercenaries, employed by power-hungry individuals, assembled in Senegal and armed and transported from there straight into The Gambia to overthrow the APRC government. Except that this time around, the Gambian security forces proved to the admiration of the whole wide world that they are now well seasoned to take on such cowardly armed attacks without losing a day’s sleep or a single soul.  Whether the Senegalese government was aware of the presence of these criminals-most likely they will, as usual, claim innocence – among who were former soldiers living in the USA and Europe and had to be airlifted to Dakar for the operation, the incident simply depicts the image of the Senegalese government’s deliberate support of the treacherous bandits. Claiming innocence with all their sophisticated intelligence network will only go to reveal how out-of-taste such a deceptive justification will now appear in the eyes of the Gambian people, given the fact that it was the same excuse they offered when the Farafenni and Kartong camps were attacked by similar armed bandits from Senegal in 1996 and 1997 respectively. Captain Ebou Jallow as arch enemy of the Gambia government residing in the USA still speaks about his experiences in the past when former president Abdoulaye Wade’s government had invited him to Senegal with an encouragement and pledges of funds for the exploration of overthrowing the APRC government in Banjul. And at some point, according to the captain, he even got the assurance of Senegal’s cooperation of closing their borders for maximum support if he could attack the country with some 100 South African mercenaries contracted for the job. Sedia Bayo with his constant threat to attack The Gambia if he could is another nuisance to The Gambia government enjoying free propaganda platforms, radio and television air times in Dakar in his quest to fulfil his evil dreams.

What a disgrace for the Senegalese governments – past and present – to continue treating The Gambia government and the Gambian people in this inimical conduct that does not at all reflect the true views of the majority of the indigenous Senegalese people whose love and adoration of His Excellency, Sheikh, Professor Alhaji Dr Yahya AJJ Jammeh matches none of their leaders in the past. In fact out of a population of 1.8 million people in The Gambia, over half-a-million are Senegalese nationals living and working in the country who would rather die than return home to Senegal because of their love for the country, its people and leadership. On the other hand, the majority of Gambians living in Senegal are there for the sole purpose of working with undesirable conspirators, seemingly inspired by the government to find a way of destabilising The Gambia.

But like before, this latest attack in The Gambia does not only appear to have soaked the Senegalese government’s hands with the blood of those killed in this horrible violence, but equally drenched that of those devils’, who out of share ignorance and greed lured these adventurists straight into the gates of hell. One wonders what these people are smoking to still believe that the Gambians will let them take over their nation, their jobs, their homes and their dignities for nothing they can show for such entitlement. And please stop referring to the incident as a coup d’etat or mutiny which are by military definition upheavals internally orchestrated by a nation’s security forces.

Anyway, let’s consider it as a moment to thank the Almighty Allah and our great president for his guidance and fortitude in ensuring that the Gambian security forces are well insulated in their task of defending the nation from internal and external enemies even during his absence from the country. The soldiers are commendable for a job well done with a professionalism indicative of warriors well-tuned with lessons taken from their commander-in-chief, a master tactician, master strategist and very dependable head of state. What a good moment therefore for an honest flashback of who this great person has always been since I came into contact with him as a military officer and perfect gentleman.

It was not until he took the gallant initiative on July 22nd 1994 to remedy the socio-political and security defects of the country that Gambians finally came to comprehend the magnitude of how badly they were misgoverned, economically exploited and culturally fragmented. And contrary to the notion that he changed the government out of being disloyal to The Gambia’s military code of conduct that he was sworn as an officer to upheld, the irrefutable reality on the other hand uncovered the character of a die-hard loyalist manifested time and again while in command of the Gambia Military Police forces.

It’s necessary to remember that against the backdrop of the 1981 abortive coup d’etat in The Gambia, the worst national security crisis ever recorded in its history, the next most disturbing security turbulence to the nation before the 1994 military takeover, occurred between 1989 when the Sene-Gambia Confederation abruptly ended and 1992 just before the Nigerians took over the command and control of the Gambia National Army (GNA).  So who was there to stop the mutinous elements of the GNA when they made an armed attempt in 1990 to hold the nation hostage for a government-delayed payment of their Ecomog allowances? Nobody but the no-nonsense, loyal, military police commander at the time, Lieutenant Yahya AJJ Jammeh who with a handful of his well-motivated crack unit confronted the challenge and stabilised the situation. Who again was there when another contingent from Liberia in 1991 tried the same style of armed rebellion in the country that required similar military surgical operation from a rapid reaction force willing to tackle them? Again it was the commander of the Gambia Military Police force, Lt Yahya AJJ Jammeh. Hence at the time he was slated in 1993 as the first and most qualified military police officer in the entire Gambian armed forces to attend further training in one of America’s elite military police academies, his competence in the service and genuine loyalty to keep the peace and stability of The Gambia was proven far beyond any measurable standard. 

So in July 1994, when he could no longer ignore the concerns of the nation and the soldiers in particular – whom he was duty bound to police – about the need to change the government that after 30 years had totally failed the expectation of the people, the ‘Commander’ by sheer necessity overruled every jurisdiction, civil and military and took over the nation his own style. The early ’90s, like I said, following Senegal’s unilateral withdrawal of their troops from the Sene-Gambia confederation was indeed the incubation period for the subsequent coup, effected five years later. Even with the government expectation that the Nigerians had the wherewithal to calm the tension in the armed forces, the collective sentiments among the soldiers was no longer whether a coup d’etat was imperative but when it will happened and who will assume the leadership role. The Commander had to seize that initiative.

However with the maintenance of the peace and security of the nation being his top priority over anything else, on July 22nd 1994, the Commander took that leadership role and formatted his operational orders to accommodate for all contingencies leading to the successful and bloodless campaign completed within six hours in broad daylight. He was in the forefront coordinating the troop movements, rifle, bayonet and grenade in hand but with a discipline that allowed him to negotiate where negotiation mattered and restrained his men wherever they tried to operate outside his strict orders. He had with due respect flouted every theory that was taught in military training, education and history which baffled a lot of observers and scholars into still entertaining the false conviction that his success was partially or mainly due to the connivance of the USA troops in The Gambia that day. No, the USS Lamoure County battleship anchored at the Banjul port the previous evening with its military crew and superior arsenals had nothing to do with the command decisions applied by the Commander. Just accept it as a leader trusting his intuitive wisdom.  The excellence in that military operation also said everything about a visionary who had defied all imaginable odds to adopt an unthinkable tactic on a treacherous terrain and at a time when the critical element of combat surprise was intentionally omitted; yet everything went well from start to end. The evidence further highlighted a sketch that suggested a link between his military competency and what eventually translated into his remarkable wisdom to invigorate The Gambia’s faltering institutions, politically, socially and economically.

 

Samsudeen Sarr, now based in New Jersey, USA, is a former commander of the Gambia National Army.

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