HER EXCELLENCY, THE VICE PRESIDENT, HONOURABLE SECRETARY GENERAL, YOUR LORD, THE CHIEF JUSTICE, HONOURABLE MINISTERS, SERVICES CHIEFS, HONORABLE MEMBERS OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY, VENERABLE RELIGIOUS LEADERS, CEOS AND MDS, MEMEBERS OF THE MEDIA, OUR ESTEEMED INVITED PARTNERS AND GUESTS, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN PRESENT
I feel very honoured and privileged today to address this august gathering on the occasion of the opening of the new SIS administration building and the inauguration of the mosque.
First allow me to thank the President of The Republic of The Gambia and Commander in Chief of the armed forces, His Excellency Adama Barrow for all the support and for providing the right environment that enabled us realize this day.
Allow me to also welcome and thank our invited guests for taking their valuable time to attend this occasion. We are greatly honored to receive you.
To the contractor and each and every one of those who worked on this project I want to thank you for your sacrifice and dedication to work right through to the completion of the building.
Your Excellency, invited guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, the significance of this occasion is of noteworthy particularly in view of demands for reforms of public institutions most notably the Security and Intelligence Sectors by first giving employees the right and conducive working environment and orientation for which the role of religion and the fear of God would be useful. The importance of religion in our daily lives and activities cannot be underestimated for man without religion is like a ship without a radar. Having said that, it is also worth mentioning particularly to the staff of this Service that the completion of this magnificent project has posed a challenge since to whom much is given much more is expected. However, I am confident that we will live up to the expectations as has always been the case.
Your Excellency, distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
In the context of our new democratic beginning, the demands to reassess, refocus and reposition and recast public institutions, such as ours, the S.I.S, in tandem with democratic values and practices cannot be delayed or waived.
In cognizance of this, I feel pleased to state that the SIS has for the past thirteen (13) months endeavored to register tremendous strides in not only shifting the perceptions of the general public by doing away with all operational excesses over the period, but also changing the mindset of its management and operational staff to focus more on relevant information gathering and intelligence generation.
In so doing, we have used training and capacity development as a tool in equipping our staff and operatives with the relevant knowledge and skills to face and overcome multi-faceted and sophisticated threats and challenges to our national security.
In this vein, our operatives are being continuously taught and reminded about basic human rights and skills for observance of these in their daily dealings with the public.
In this regard, please allow me to register appreciation of the assistance of the British High Commission and the Institute for Human Rights Development in Africa (IHRDA) for training over hundred Intelligence Officers including members of our sister services.
Such trainings have contributed immensely to the maintenance of very high standards and capabilities to effectively and efficiently operate in a challenging security environment.
Your Excellency, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Communities, nations and governments continue to rely on intelligence as an essential guide and tool in statecraft. With some using intelligence as an instrument in pursuit of wars and military supremacy. Still others seek dominance in trade and wealth creation for their peoples. In the case of the Gambian when the people voiced their will through the ballot box on December 1st, culminating in the advent of this democratic dispensation on January 19, 2017, demands have been made for fundamental changes in the nature intelligence is used as an instrument of government.
This is because whereas previously the emphasis was on the security of the state and the survival of the regime, now there is a strong emphasis on human security and human rights and freedoms as enshrined in the constitution.
In respect of this, our objectives are to serve, not as oppressors of the people but protectors of their security and well-being governed by policies that are ethical, honorable and in accordance with fundamental human rights and freedoms as well as international best practices.
Whilst our operational techniques of covert collection of information are secret, the rest of our intelligence activities will be open and participatory so as to earn the confidence and full support of the public. That might not have been the case before, but in any democracy it is essential that intelligence services behave in an ethical and lawful manner and we cannot afford to deviate on these values.
We have always and would relentlessly continue to stand by the government and His Excellency the President’s spirit and vision to build an intelligence service that is fully conscious and proud of our democratic and constitutional foundations. My administration continues to work towards having a highly trained, professional, well-motivated and sophisticated intelligence operatives, researchers and analysts who shall be at the forefront, relying on brains rather than brawn, in pursuit and defense of The Gambia’s national security interest wherever they are.
In doing so, I reaffirm our resolute stance to the zero tolerance on all operational excesses as in our “#NO MORE EXCESSES” and also the use of this institution to meet personal or individual ends. Rather, as we await the legalization of the SIS Bill, we certainly request for powers sufficient to carry out our core mandates on counter intelligence, espionage, terrorism, subversion, sabotage, etc., powers that would enable us use the special methods of intelligence collection to provide decision makers with actionable intelligence on a wide range of cross cutting issues. Such powers shall be exercised in accordance with legislation, regulations, guidelines and rules.
Your Excellency, Distinguished Guest, Ladies and Gentlemen.
As the security situation remains calm and under control, the SIS would remain affirmed to its policy of zero complacency, given the capricious nature of security.
The institution remains determined in consolidating its gains while it continue striving in its commitment to always collaborate with all stakeholders through close and constant engagements when and where necessary, in the interest of national security.
Reforms and restructuring
In our on-going reforms and restructuring agenda geared towards building a resilient and reliable service that would respond adequately to the dynamics of National Security, we have made strategic deployments of personnel and assets both internally and externally over the past eleven months. These deployments were strictly based on strategic operational needs. As a result, recent appraisals have shown that the SIS has, compared to previous years, made a significant increase in overall staff enthusiasm and productivity, which is measured by the substantial upsurge in high-valued information collection and intelligence production, and indications are that this trend would continue if not double in the near future.
Multilateral and bilateral partnerships
On the external front, the SIS has for the past thirteen months, seen a sharp jump in multilateral and bilateral partnerships with external partners most notable Senegal, as our most strategic partner. Some of these partners are very active and strategic with lots of support and cooperation on capacity building, information sharing and other operational activities.
In the same vein, we have both received and reached out to people from all social, political, diplomatic, religious and other sectors, all of which are geared towards enhancing national cohesion and promoting the national security interest of The Gambia.
Efforts to national peace and reconciliation
Driven by the consciousness that Intelligence activities are to be proactive and preventive in nature, the SIS has in the past thirteen (13) months been constantly on behind-the-scenes engagements with relevant stakeholders and people of influence to not only achieve national peace and reconciliation but also to have the concept entrenched into the minds and daily dealings of the people of this country.
Driven by the same consciousness, the SIS in its national peace and reconciliation efforts and strategy has worked in collaboration with other sister security services, relevant ministries and stakeholders towards achieving the same objective. I have also recently embarked on a nationwide familiarization and interactive tour aimed at enablingme to interact with our regional staff as well as our stakeholders, with a view to:
Firstly, conduct threat assessment and a brief assessment of security installations.
Secondly, to encourage inter-services cooperation among the armed and security services personnel.
Thirdly, to encourage sharing of information among the security services, particularly on matters relating to National Security. I also encourage continues excellent relationship between the armed and security services personnel and the general public.
The visit to other security installations was to re-establish confidence and boost the morale of the various ranks of the services, and also avail us the opportunity to interact with security officers and other ranks to extend goodwill message from His Excellency, the President of the Republic of the Gambia, and Commander–in–Chief of the Armed Forces.
In light of the above, the SIS shall continue to engage and collaborate with all relevant stakeholders while advising as necessary any potential hotspots and emerging security, political, social, or economic concerns across the country, as dictated by need.
Your Excellency, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I would like to conclude by reporting that the national security challenges for 2018 would not be much different from 2017. There are no foreseen critical and eminent threat to the general wellbeing of both the State and people of this country.
· That said, we think 2018, will be stretched and stressed by differing opinions that could affect policy thinking, cause social unease and affect security arrangements.
· Will witness more traffic jams and more pressure on our road infrastructure.
· We will witness more import but the catch will be indiscriminate items that could affect our environment
· We will witness more economic activities and projects as well as investments. We of the Intelligence and Security Community can caution that all that glitters is not gold hence the need to identify the genuine from the fake investors.
· Gambia’s pace of development could be affected by lethargy, slowness and flat-footedness.
Notwithstanding, I seize this opportunity to reassure you, with the collective support of the President and government, our sister security institutions and partners as well as the goodwill of our populace, the SIS as a service would continue to defy the numerous hurdles and challenges ahead. We shall also remain staunchly forward looking in our drive to reshaping, refocusing, recasting and resetting the Service as a viable intelligence Institution that would serve the national security interest of The Gambia.
The SIS shall continue to further engage in partnership with national, regional and international stakeholders in its reform and repositioning agenda for a successful transformation process.
To this end, on behalf of the entire staff, Directorate and indeed on my own behalf, I wish to extend his profound gratitude to His Excellency the President of the Republic of The Gambia and Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces, Mr Adama Barrow. We thank H.E for giving me the opportunity within the right environment to serve in this most noble office, and also for the continued trust and confidence bestowed on me and my entire staff. I further wish to acknowledge the entire Directorate and staff of the SIS for their dedication, support and hard work while I enjoin them to remain unwavering in their courage, loyalty, and professionalism to duty.
I thank you all for your kind attention.