By Omar Bah
Lamin Keita, a Gambian PhD candidate at Northwestern University in the US, has accused President Barrow of delaying the much-anticipated security sector reform to continue keeping Ecomig in the country.
The SSR is one of the campaign promises of Barrow prior to his election in 2016, to ensure the creation of a responsive and law-abiding security.
Critics have questioned the state of progress of SSR as “seriously lagging behind” while the government is insisting that the impact of the reform is reflecting on all the country’s security institutions.
But Keita, who is currently in Africa to finalise his PhD research, told The Standard: “The problem we have is that Barrow thinks keeping Ecomig will be at his advantage. Whether you are a politician or not, you should see that theory. Barrow’s plan is to depend on Ecomig to perpetuate himself in power. All the politicians in this country should be wise enough to see this fact.”
Keita said as far as Ecomig “is here it will be very difficult to get rid of Barrow. This is why he is deliberately slowing down the reforms to keep the troops in the country”.
“I have not seen any serious reform. If you go to the military, police, and other security agencies, you find people there who have tortured and killed people. There is no mechanism whatsoever to reform the security. Nothing absolutely.
If you call the police about crime, it will take them hours to come because they don’t have vehicles. You call that security reforms,” he said.
He said the Gambian leader should realise that the country needs serious reforms especially in the security sector to “clean up the bad elements and replace them with credible people”.
“Myself and a host of others in the diaspora have raised alarm earlier on Barrow’s inability to rule but the problem with this country is that when you critique the actual realities on the ground, you are considered an enemy. But those who lied and misled people are considered good citizens and heroes.”
He said though it might not be necessary for someone to have a PhD to be president but “at least one should be well grounded and your reputation should be tested before you are given the responsibility of a president”.
“This is what the coalition members had failed to identify when they were choosing Barrow. This is why we are here today. We have people in government who are only serving their own personal interests. I am particularly disappointed with some of my friends who are now ministers and spokespersons. I will not call names but they know themselves – when we were struggling what they used to say and what they are doing today is completely opposite,” he added.
He said President Barrow has mastered the minds of Gambians perfectly well and he is using that to his advantage.
“Barrow has now realised that money will play a big role in his reelection. This is why he doesn’t care,” he said.
Keita challenged the country’s education system to introduce in the curriculum a lesson on patriotism. “We need patriots in this country,” he said.