It has been a long, emotional, painful, outrageous, repressive and regrettable 22 years of despotic rule. You killed, banished, incarcerated, maimed and exiled many Gambians with disdainful impunity. Your last two weeks in office, which resonated infinite period, is most gruesome of all your omissions in office. It witnessed mass exodus of helpless Gambians across into Senegalese border, a bloodcurdling state of fear and uncertainty, uncultured abuse of constitutional dictates, traumatic psychological and mental torture, state of helplessness and immeasurable frustration. Despite all your evil intents for us, you have only succeeded in making us strong, united and determined to jealously preserve and guard our freedom. Correspondingly, even though it was not your aspiration, your malevolent actions have helped in making every Gambian take keen interest in our political affairs and become commanders of our own destiny. Albeit many were in denial regarding your underworld shady operations, your last week in office divulged your true nature.
Equivalently, you have proven more than ever before to all and sundry that you are not trustworthy, you are callous, you are selfish, you are arrogant and indiscipline. This is demonstrated palpably by Umaru Fofana of the BBC postulation, “The morning after the night before, I wonder what’s playing on Yahya Jammeh’s mind-as he prepares to leave not only power and the unbridled access to wealth and control, but also his homeland. Probably his longest ever night”. As the dust of new Gambia is settling down, let us draw few lessons from our enlightening experience with Monster Jammeh.
As a starter, all political detainees must be freed with immediate effect. Create rehabilitation programmes for them to refit into everyday life. Provide them with proper counselling, medical and social care. This must be followed by the commissioning of truth, peace and reconciliation commission to put under the microscope Jammeh’s 22 years of omissions. While the commission is sitting, the security services must be revamped. All efforts must be taken to transform the security services into professional, independent and productive services. It will require retraining, expanding, reforming and retiring. Since our only close contact with war is peace-keeping missions, each of the technical units of all the services must be nurtured and readied for generating revenue both for central government and their services. On the day of President Barrow’s return to Banjul, all Gambian armed officer and other ranks on Guard of Honour welcoming him at the airport must be disarmed. Until the personal security and safety of President Barrow is established beyond doubt, a carefully selected officers and other ranks from the Gambian security services must be entrusted with his protection. The NIA. Yes, the notorious NIA. It will be irresponsible and illogical to disband it completely. What it needs is getting rid of its administrative leadership and any agent who participated in unlawful omission of duty. Restructure it, retrain all its agents and redefine their duties and responsibilities. Take all policing powers from it and let it operate as a professional intelligent agency. The Police Force also needs touching up and restructuring. An independent body should also be set up to police all the security services particularly the police force. The powers to appoint and dismiss the Inspector General of Police should be vested on PMO with the approval of the independent body policing the police. That way, the police will be independent from the executive and execute its duties and responsibilities without political duress.
Respectively, the Civil Service also needs a dose of face-lift. There are still some elements within it that still owe allegiance to Jammeh. The continued presence of such persons within the Civil Service will only subterfuge efforts of the rainbow government in picking up the broken pieces of the economy. Salaries, social and pension welfare of civil servants must be reviewed and updated to commensurate current economic realities and standards of living in the Gambia. This will help to curb corruption and irresponsibility. Proper time keeping and responsible management of public properties should also be put in place. For instance, reporting on duty on time, clocking in and out of duty, set breaks times, sick leave/pay and use of official telephones etc. Cultivate a committed and loyal work turnover.
Most importantly, setting up a 2 term limit for the presidency. Once that is entrenched in the constitution and can only be reversed by a referendum, we will safe any president from overstaying his or her welcome. Well, for the national assembly now we all know the consequences of having and ill-informed, ill-educated and a rubber-stamp NAMs. The next batch of NAMs must at least badged Grade 12 certificate and good result.
GRTS I will recommend to be managed by Fatou Camara. As well as the director of GRTS, she should be the Press Secretary to President Barrow. Apart from her fountain experience in the media, she can transform GRTS to a financially viable and world class media house. Take a close look at her Fatu Networks and you will understand my point. As a Press Secretary to President Barrow, she will do an excellent work in projecting his PR and relationship with the press both home and abroad. Even as the Minister of Information and Communication the iron lady will not disappoint. She is committed, experienced, focus and loyal.
Finally, until our paths cross again Jammeh, thank you for helping us love freedom more than life.
Sulayman Jeng Birmingham, UK