Once again President Barrow surprised many by taking a bold step in reshuffling his cabinet this past Friday. This event generated a national round of fresh debates regarding the makeup and formulation of coalition government. Perhaps most people will tacitly agree our institutions were not properly functioning and it is ok to shun the status quo. It becomes little more complicated when the formula that was promulgated that give rebirth of the New Gambia under the coalition government which elected our current President. The conventional wisdom was the norms of our new political life requires a degree of bipartisanship forbearance. Our country went through 22 years of terror, intimidation, and total disregard when it comes to the rule of law. We have more orphan children walking in the heart of The Gambia today than any time in the history of our Republic thanks to Yaya Jammeh and his accomplice’s tenure of terror.
Our New Gambia will require both resolve and foresight to tackle our challenges not to underestimate the outdated processes in many of our institutions. The recent reshuffling of President Barrow’s cabinet underscores the need to deliver basic services and optimize key performance of various ministries. Our institutions are not perfect, those imperfections should thrive us to be genuine and serious about tackling challenges that face our nation. Our New Gambia requires a lot of work in terms of human behavior and how we cherished our new-found democracy! The natural right of a free person to assemble and petition the government is as basic to the fundamentals associated with the founding of The Gambia as the right to breathe. In past weeks, in several Towns in the Gambia, people have taken the opportunity to exercise these rights.
However, it seems that an occurrence of lawlessness and disorder has reared its ugly head and has created a firestorm controversy. No matter which side of the fence over the debate relating to this national controversy a person falls, without the rule of law, no one wins. A serious question as to whether or not the burgeoning democracy could endure The Gambia we all fought for? In Faraba, and Gunjur, there has been inaction or ineffective community outreaching by the government which resulted some group of local community members taking justice into their hands, rather than the judicial system that was set up to deal with such issues.
Ibrahim Lincoln, who was only admitted to the bar the year prior, has much to say to this group of young men and women, especially when it comes to his view on the rule of law. His speech, and the advice the America’s favorite president gave, is as relevant today as it was in 1838. In this speech, Ibrahim Lincoln warned that the only power to destroy the nation existed from within. He said, “If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.” Lincoln went on to say that the “lawless in spirit, are encouraged to become the lawless in practice.”
The recent arrest of PIU Officers who were part of an intervention unit at Faraba, is a double edge sword for President Barrow’s government. We are all in agreement we must hold ourselves accountable at the same time we must be careful not to let our security personnel be scapegoat. Our security personnel who are less than 200,000 in total are entrusted to safeguard and maintain law and order for a population of 2 million. Some of our security personnel are victims of Jammeh’s brutality and they lived in constant fear and intimidation for 22 years like the rest of average Gambians. I will also make it very clear some within the security apparatus sided with the dictator to brutalized Gambians!
After the Faraba incident, there was debate especially within diaspora why our security personnel carry live ammunition at the scene? Let’s remember the personnel who responded their weapon, ammunition and handcuffs are part of their uniform. What we should debate is how our officers should respond to incidents like Faraba. More so what went wrong and lessons learned! The civilian authorities should not dictate the roles of our security personnel, if interference of civilian authorities permeate what we will see is the re-occurrence of mob that happened at Brikama Police station and many stations around the country. Bottom line, let the security do their job. We must recognize even in the western world; police officers carry their weapons with condition one. So, our security personnel must remain agile, dynamic and professional at all times.
I remembered on several occasions during lunch breaks dining with my family while in uniform, some good Samaritan will volunteer to foot our restaurant bill. They will walk up to our table shake my hand and the rest of my family members and say “thank you for your service”. I remembered couple of weeks ago, while at a restaurant depot location in Fife, WA to pick supplies a senior citizen volunteered to pay my bill. I insisted the items are for our business not for personal use but he responded by saying ‘’I am always ready to support veteran owned business! Why do I share these stories? I share them because our security personnel are citizens like many of us. We must continue to bridge the gap and honor their sacrifice and service not to disparage them.
The appointment of Honorable Lawyer Ousainou Darboe as the Vice President of Republic of The Gambia, cemented the notion that Barrow administration is predominantly UDP government. UDP party supporters and sympathizers must deliver the promise of New Gambia. The party of Moses and Noah cannot claim this new baby is a coalition government anymore! As Honorable Ousainou Darboe himself stated during his recent interview with Omar Wally of Fatu Radio Network. “UDP is Barrow and President Barrow is UDP”.
Finally, the reforms, good governance, open and transparent government must be the new order of the day. We can all agree on one thing, come Monday our daunting challenges are still ahead of us despite new personnel filing those ministerial portfolios. What is important is to deliver the goods on behalf of the Gambian people. I will like to thank Former VP Aja Fatoumatta Tambajang, Hon. OJ Jallow, Hon. D.A Jawo, Hon. Henry Gomez, and Hon. Soffie Lowe Ceesay for their service to our Nation. Congratulations to the Ministers who been entrusted to lead the various ministries. Thank you and may God bless The Gambia and Her people.