‘We welcome partnership but not interference’

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By Modou Lamin Faye

We welcome support just like any other Least Developed Country around the world but the government must not allow the donors to interfere with the country’s internal affairs.

Based on the information that my team and I received from some members of the Security Sector Reform committee, the guidelines being used to reform our security sector is based on research done by external experts which they believe would work for every country forgetting the fact that every country‚Äôs security need is different. These experts are the ones suggesting for Barrow’s administration to downsize our security force or use our armed forces for agricultural purposes.  I am not saying that external experts should not be invited to contribute or share their expertise with us, but any reasonable or logical person would believe that for the interest of national security, we should not allow external security experts design, interfere or dictate how we should move forward with our National Security Policy especially when they did not live the same struggle and challenges that the Gambian people have experienced for decades, having the experience and expertise is one thing but living it is another.

A true security expert would advise you that not every element of a country’s National Security play book should be known to the public or other countries. This is why it’s important to have our own Security Sector Reform office with qualified team of security experts (preferably Gambians) who would be conducting research based on the data gathered from our struggles and challenges to developed guidelines that our policy or law makers can follow to make a better judgement of what is best for the National Security of our country.

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The safety and security of a country and its people should be the number one priority to any government. This includes but not limited to a steady income and housing, clothing, food supplies, protection from crime, and psychological security. A Security Sector Reform for a country should be based on the research gathered from the struggle of security, financial, economic, food supplies, unemployment rate, and other challenges that the country faces.

Previous and precent Gambian administrations have always heavily relied on external support for financial, medical, military/police training, food supplies, to name but just a few.

The government should work towards the self-sufficiency it’s been calling for years by utilising our natural resources and other structured systems of generating revenues instead of been busy destroying one another, believe in ourselves and our own people more than we believe, value, and support others. This is not just the government that has a dependent mindset but Gambians as a whole. We are psychologically and mentally programmed to believe that we cannot do anything for ourselves without external help. We have also been psychologically and mentally programmed to believe that the only time we should listen or take advise is when it comes from external experts. I (a Gambian) created a platform that Barrow’s administration is aware of by the way, which would help us start getting proper tactical gear, but they did not embrace it. But when the Germans donated riots gear, the government was so quick to hold a press conference, take photos, and even a TV program to show the whole world. The list goes on about how we respect, value, support, and believe so much in other people than our own, which is sad.

The government focus more on getting riot gear to fight or oppress the same people that they took an oath to serve and protect than equipment that would protect them.

Now that a delegation from the European Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs, which is led by David McAllister has advised/told the Gambia government to prioritise its security, we will see how serious  Gambian government will now take our security. Analysing David McAllister’s (chairperson of the EU committee) statement, he is basically saying in a professional manner that they are tired of pumping millions of euros to the SSR program without seeing any progress or result since it started and that Gambia isn’t the only country that needs help, which I agree.

I want every Gambian to compare how developed other African countries, the west, and other parts of the world are now versus how they used to be and understand the fact that being lazy, close minded, and heavily depending on external financial, medical, military/police training, and other support did not get them where they are at today. They worked hard for it, value, and respect themselves and their country and created structured systems that better serves them. We should minimise having external security forces come to the country to train our forces because they are going to train our forces, the same way that they were trained to deal with their own struggle and challenges. We should have our own team of experienced security experts who would bring heads together and form a training playbook that our security forces especially the police and other internal security institutions can use to deal with our internal security issues. We should only have our armed forces going on training drills with external forces on how to respond to threats that affects our territories or the interest we all share. A good example would be how NATO and its allies conduct military drills to prepare future threats.

Every country including America and Europe gets some type of assistance from another country but some of the things that I like and respect about them is that they value and respect their citizens and country more than any other country and their citizens.

They always put their country’s best interest at heart regardless of the differences that they have among themselves and work hard to develop their country. They will welcome people to work with them, but they would not allow you to tell them what to do and how to run their country. They can be allies with neighbouring or other countries but based on mutual respect, grounds, and interest. This is what it means to have independence.

We are a country with independence and have our own flag, therefore, we should exercise self-governance, take control of our sovereignty, protect our interest and way of life, and most importantly teach the upcoming generations how to work together and evolve. We should, however, continue to build network with foreign investors and other countries with the exception of them respecting our rule of law and the way of life regardless of how much money or help they want to invest in The Gambia.