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Tuesday, May 21, 2024
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Unwise to use the military for agricultural projects

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By Modou Lamin Faye

Security is an essential part of people’s livelihoods, and police/military presence can deter unusual or suspicious behavior by being proactive and bringing awareness within our communities. Police/military presence cannot eradicate crime for sure, but it can minimise the opportunity of people committing crimes. Security also gives people the feeling of certainty to be able to live freely and go about their everyday business. For this goal to be successfully achieved, however, security forces should properly be trained, equipped, and provided with access to conduct weekly or monthly training drills to effectively be able to tackle future threats.

Based on my security analysis and risk assessment of a statement made by president Adama Borrow on 8th April 2019, about the Gambia Armed Forces embarking on a large scale commercial agricultural production for self- reliance after an agreement with AGCO Company and how “Section 187” of the 1996-1997 constitution is being used to justify that it’s ok to use our military for farming, it would be a bad idea to do so because this will only add more wood to the fire that some of us have been working so hard to put out. It is true that it states on “Section 187 (1c)” in the constitution that at the request of the civil authorities, the armed forces can be used in productive activities such as agriculture engineering, health and education for the development of the Gambia but may I also highlight the fact that any reasonable person would believe that the agricultural part of that section was added there for former president Jammeh to use the armed forces for his own personal agricultural agenda because he (Jammeh) did not want to hire farmers to do the job.

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For security reasons, I will not go in to details on that here as to how going forward with the idea of using our armed forces for this project can be a threat to national security, but I will, however, give better suggestions for how this project should be handled and “kill two-three birds with one stone”. This project/contract should be given to the real farmers in the country. With this idea, job opportunities will be created for the farmers and the youths of the country that want to work and the government can tax them. The taxes being collected would then be used to feed the armed forces, give them incentives, help buy combat and training equipment to better protect the nation. With a structured system in place, the government can utilise this opportunity to generate revenue and create more job opportunities thereby enhancing our farming community, which in the long run will take care of our security forces. One of the things that our security forces should focus on includes but not limited to researches on both future internal/external threats and conducting weekly or monthly training drills on how to approach or tackle those threats when they arise. Furthermore, making decisions on how security forces should be handled involves doing risk analysis, security assessment, and anticipating the pros and cons. Besides, if we are going to use the armed forces for the agricultural project then we might as well make them fulltime farmers and take away their arms and uniforms.

I recently registered a non-profit organization called “Better police and military equipment for The Gambia here in the United States, where people can go online at (www.betterpoliceandmilitaryequipmentforgambia.org) and either donate police/military equipment to our office or cash through the NGO. My company (ML’s cleaning, moving, and general services) have already taken the initiative and started buying new tactical/ protective equipment for our security forces. I have also mapped out a security reform plan that our NGO will follow in supporting the ongoing Security Sector Reform in The Gambia. I have tried reaching out to the current government (office of the president) through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation and Gambians Abroad to build a partnership and work towards the development of our Gambia but I haven’t gotten any response on how to proceed. We are dedicated to paving the way for our children, future leaders, and generations to come with the hope that president Barrow’s administration would take advantage of our resources to work with us and achieve both our goals.

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