Loyalty is earned over time and of course with hard work. In the security sector business, loyalty starts with what kind of presentation the government and decision makers do for the security sector. In that presentation, is the government listening to what the security sector is telling them that they need to better do their job? Is the government honest or loyal to the security sector the same way they expect them to be loyal? Is the government prioritising the security sector in the manner that they want to be prioritised?
But either ways downsizing or rightsizing our security is not the best solution for security sector reform. The government can spend millions to downsize or rightsized all they want but from a security standpoint, this will be a threat to national security, the unemployment rate will go high and indirectly cause crime rates to spike.
The government needs to keep in mind that people have to eat and feed their families. Therefore, there will be a higher probability for the officers being downsized to go out and do whatever it takes including committing crimes to pay their bills and feed their families especially if they don’t have any skills in the civilian world.
One of the reasons why about fifty percent of the military are still loyal to former president Jammeh is because he prioritised and valued them in many ways. Jammeh focused more on earning the loyalty of the security sector than the loyalty of the members of his cabinet and other senior officials because he (Jammeh) understood that the security plays a huge role in making sure that the country and its people are safe including his regime. Jammeh also understood that not prioritising and valuing the security forces, would have put him and his regime in danger because his enemies would use that opportunity to recruit and easily turn the security forces against him by providing them with help and support that he is not giving them (if you don’t feed the dogs that protects you in your home then your enemies would definitely feed them to gain access to your home and take you out of commission).
This is the reality of not prioritising and valuing the people that keep you and your assets safe.
The ongoing situation regarding president Barrow undermining our security forces by letting external security forces, Senegalese forces, to be precise, take care of his security protective details and especially on our country’s Independence Day which is an insult to our independence, is not a smart move for a leader who expects loyalty from his people.
I don’t blame president Barrow though because the security experts in the country are supposed to be making Barrow see the risk of him letting external security forces take care of his security. I urge President Barrow to put his ego, pride, and respectfully dismiss the Senegalese security protection detail from the highest office of the country and assign our own security protective detail teams before it’s too late.
Loyalty cannot be bought for sure but the best way to ensure that the government have the loyalty of the security sector is with quality treatment by prioritising, valuing, and respecting them. The security sector should be able to count on the government to get the proper materials that they need to better do their job as well as getting the government’s support to address the challenges they face and quickly resolve them. Access to high quality and level of training/certification should be given to our security forces to ensure that they provide quality services to the government and better safeguard the nation. Hardship duty pay should be considered for our security forces, where the government can create a structured transportation system for our security forces to easily get to work and back to their families without heavily relying on asking for lift from the civilians. With this system, their living and unhealthful work condition will also be addressed.
Another incentive compensation for our security forces especially traffic and frontline officers to utilise from, can be hazardous duty pay. The government can provide them with allowances (every six months or year) that they can use to buy personal protective equipment (PPE) and protect themselves from hazardous environment or materials. What the government offers to our security sector should be a better value than what a possible enemy will offer to infiltrate our security system. Budget can be a problem in providing incentives sometime but with the government putting in the time to understand the issues our security sector faces can help them create guidelines for offering them better benefits based on the current budget.
I respectfully urge president Barrow to start visiting military and police camps to see their living conditions and also try and build connection with them. We the Gambian people need Mr Barrow to understand the fact that there are people behind his ears who are setting him up for a failure by not advising him with what he really needs to do to win the people’s hearts. Finally, Barrow need to understand that he’s been given an opportunity for a second time to be on the right side of history and it’s up to him to either do the right thing while he can, to be in our good history books or end up like Jammeh.