Today is Remembrance Day. While we are honoring the bravery and sacrifice of those Gambians who were enlisted and fought during the two World wars, it is scaring to acknowledge the fact that the number of casualties of Yaya Jammeh’s oppressive rule since coming into power 22 years ago is comparable to those gallant Gambians who lost their lives to liberate the world from tyranny. Their legacy contributed significantly to the historical origins of our current security forces. Where the Army or Field Forces were needed to fight external aggression and defend our territorial integrity, today they are used to stoke fear, suppress dissent and entrench dictatorship by being used to rig elections.
The purpose of any profession is to serve society by effectively delivering a necessary and useful specialized service. To fulfill those societal needs, professions- such as the military, the navy and the police- develop and maintain distinct bodies of specialized knowledge and guidelines to serve society and create their own standards of performance and values to maintain their effectiveness. Central to those values and standards are allegiance to the Constitution, dedicated duty to fulfill once obligation to what is morally and professionally right, treat people with dignity and respect, and put the welfare of the nation before anything else.
Using Security Forces as laborers, farmers, butchers
Members of the security forces in this country has always suffered the ignominy of being used as laborers, cattle herdsmen, meat sellers, grass-cutters, fishermen and delivery men for his charities which has nothing to do with the values and standards necessary to maintain a professional service forces tasked to serve the country and protect the people from any external attacks. How many army majors have been turned into farm managers in Jammeh’s vast farms? How many captains are working as herdsmen for his heads of cattle? How about the thousands of recruits who throng the presidential motorcade as human shields and spend most of time laboring at his private businesses?
A Commander-in-chief who keeps violating the Constitution and is not committed to the core Values and Standards of the security services has put our country back into a virulent state of insecurity which is the reason why the army, PIU and police are on permanent stand-by duty depriving them visits to their families. The battle for our liberation is not to put “Orga” before God, but to put our country before any single person. It is important to remember that dictators want us to turn against one and another. That is what dictators typically tried to exploit.
Voters in uniform
Over the years Yaya Jammeh has hijacked elections in this country and succeeded in using the security services to rig the votes and divide the nation by stoking fear as well as fanning the flames of tribalism in every strata of Gambian society. Lack of equality of treatment and opportunity is so pervasive in the civil service, the army, police, immigration, fire service, navy and other specialized security agencies that many competent and qualified officers are forced to flee the country and seeking asylum abroad whilst others prefer to stay mute and watch their subordinates promoted over them.
It is no secret that today if you are a Colley, Badgie, Sonko, Bojang Jatta or Jammeh your gain unfair advantage for rapid promotion in the service -masquerading nepotism with competence. In countries were the state gives it citizens the same opportunity and treat everybody as equal – they are more developed, more progressed economically and co-exist peacefully. We have to reject calls that allow us to be divided. We are stronger when we stand united with a national identity. Our faiths are bound together. We are bound by one tribe- The Gambia.
Every member of the security forces is a civilian and have families to take care for. Our collective survival is more important to our children, parents, families, relatives and friends than any individual interests or personal gains. Dictators who try to sow chaos must be met forcefully with a commitment to uphold the rule of law, respect for human rights, and to treat everybody fairly and equally. That is why we have a shared interest in seeing Yaya Jammeh out if we want to preserve the dignity and respect for those who sacrificed their lives for our liberation.
Thomas Sankara, the great African leader, once said “a soldier without proper education is a potential criminal”. Don’t we now know who the criminal is?
Written By Insider Analyst