by Samsudeen Sarr
I hope my readers were able to comprehend from my last paper how the Gambian people in their 2017 election dispute were outmaneuvered by smart Senegalese diplomats through our dimwitted Gambian ambassadors culminating in what I surmised as an abdication of our political sovereignty to Senegal. Pretending to be only interested in helping the Gambia to remove ex-President Jammeh from office during the infamous impasse, the Senegalese-armed forces masqueraded in an ECOMIG mask, permanently occupying our country and since have been influencing our political affairs consistent with their concealed aspirations.
And as stated, among the after-victory plans following the forceful removal of the APRC government and the inauguration and indoctrination of the leaders of the new coalition government in Dakar was the commissioning of a national Security Sector Reform (SSR), predicated on suppositions later proven to be utterly unfounded. The concocted hypothesis was the priority to purge the Gambia Armed Forces (GAF) of a large number of recruited MFDC and Charles Taylor’s Liberian rebels by Ex-President Jammeh. They were supposed to be either killed, captured or flushed out of the Gambia.
However, the foreign forces initially thought to be one homogenous military detachment, proportionally consisted of four ECOWAS member states, Senegal, Nigeria, Togo and Ghana was later discovered to be predominantly Senegal’s best fighters under Senegalese command ordered to carry out the purging of these rebels and subsequently assisting the SSR task force to confiscate all “counterfeit” ranks from incompetent officers decorated by Yahya Jammeh.
However, a week after the reckless invasion, the widely-proclaimed presence of MFDC and Charles Taylor fighters in the GFA turned out to be all rubbish, essentially rendering the SSR theory pointless. But the scheme was nevertheless implemented by pretentious elements hoping for perhaps a miracle to help them come up with something acceptable and obviously to get paid fat salaries for doing nothing but squandering three precious years of the transition.
In order to save face, however, the shameless occupiers consistently harassed defenseless Gambians, mainly in the Fonis, a region unfairly stigmatized for only being the ancestral homeland of former President Jammeh and at some point provoking and shooting some stereotyped members of his tribe-the Jolas-in his home village of Kaninlai, killing among them an innocent father, Harona Jatta, for evidence of “killed MFDC rebels”. The treachery boomeranged, exposing the savages as cold-blooded murderers of an unarmed Gambian parent whose family lost their only breadwinner in vain.
The crime was a glimpse in the paradigm of their genocidal intent if the Gambian soldiers were not smart enough to avoid confronting these beasts. They were drilled to kill as many Harona Jattas, Modou Njies, Masaneh Ceesays, James Cokers as possible and exhibit them as rebels from the MFDC and Charles Taylors’ Liberian guerrillas; and just like in 1981 the dead would have all been hastily buried in mass graves before anyone would identify them. The world would have done nothing, because of the unconscionable elements from some UN, AU, ECOWAS nations, braced up to justify the crime in the name of replacing the APRC government with a “better” one.
That was how they did it in 1981, when a large scale of Senegalese troops invaded the Gambia slaughtering an estimated number of 1000 helpless Gambians in an operation to foil the Kukoi Samba Sanyang coup against the PPP government. After restoring the “better” PPP back to power, the only casualties in the conflict whose lives mattered were the 33 Senegalese soldiers reported killed in action to whom President Sir Dawda had to fly to Dakar to express his sympathy and appreciation of their sacrifice, handsomely compensating their families with 1US million dollars.
Ebou Faal and Malick Mendy, young bachelors from Serekunda, Madi Conteh another young custom officer, Mr. Elliot, a civil servant and parent, Amadou Jallow a Guinean businessman and father, Femi Jeng a renowned Radio Gambia journalist, Nyanga Sallah a very popular striker in the Gambia national football team, name them, were among the 1000 defenseless civilians who perished in the carnage with literally all of them hastily buried in mass graves as “the Kukoi rebels” they never were. Up to when toppled in 1994, not a single effort was taken by the PPP government to identify all those murdered Gambians or even to formally sympathize with them, let alone to compensate their families as “collateral” casualties.
Being a witness to that sickening event, I could therefore understand why Gambians in thousands ran across our borders to Senegal in 2017 when another bloodbath of much larger scale intended by the combatants loomed imminent. Only the brazen Judases of Senegal would now spin the refugee crisis of 2017 blaming Jammeh for causing it, discounting the threat posed by the warmongers determined to turn the country into a battlefield. Nobody wanted to be killed, unidentified, buried and forgotten in mass graves. If Jammeh was the cause why the unconstitutional intrusion after his departure?
Let us be honest to each other folks, and admit the hard fact that our failure to investigate and bring to justice Harona Jatta’s killers was an affront to our justice system at a time when Gambians were being insulated to put all their trust in a “TRRC”.
Apparently, if things had gone the way the Senegalese wanted, without the conscientious Ghanaian ECOMIG spokesman coming out clean to clarify that the killers of Mr Harona Jatta were nowhere associated with the ECOWAS approved peacekeeping contingent but were indeed Senegalese soldiers dubiously deployed on a secret treaty signed by Mackey Sall and Adama Barrow, the crime would have been misrepresented as an ECOMIG-perpetrated felony, sparing the Senegalese executioners pulling the triggers.
Notwithstanding, the final confirmation of having no foreign rebels in the country diminished the SSR task down to only the confiscation facet of the “fake ranks, selectively awarded by Jammeh to unqualified army loyalist”. But to fulfill that, the aficionados would before long notice that the entire higher echelon of the armed forces from the generals in key positions to the subordinate colonels, majors and captains were all carrying Jammeh’s “anathematized” ranks, except of course the newly appointed army commander who was paradoxically rehired in 2017 and equally decorated with the same “counterfeit” rank of a general, thanks to his long-time friendship with President Adama Barrow; the guy was an army captain dismissed from the service by the AFPRC twenty-three years ago and in those difficult times he became friends with President Adama Barrow the “businessman”.
So with no rebels to fire from the GAF and no definitive guidelines to identify which officers must lose their “fake” ranks and which ones to keep theirs, the keenly-awaited SSR keeps on dragging infinitum.
But Just imagine how irrational it would be if for instance, General Yankuba Drammeh is stripped of his rank, awarded by President Jammeh while General Mamat Cham is allowed to keep his, awarded by President Barrow.
Notwithstanding, I strongly believe that this whole nonsense compounded by the unconstitutional occupation of the Gambia by foreign troops have immensely been contributing in receding morale among soldiers in the GAF, a precarious recipe for turmoils in armies of underdeveloped countries. It is naturally debilitating their confidence and capabilities, forcing the very good ones into quitting for better things than staying in a career having no money, no respect and no future.
But I think this is what Senegal wants. The more we render our soldiers useless the longer we depend on their troops and the firmer they maintain a clench of the minds of our politicians. I think all is geared towards coercing our leaders into surrendering our last important symbol of sovereignty, our dalasi currency for their Neo-colonial French CFA. Our borders will stay permanently closed until our economy crumbles leaving us no choice but to go by their instructions. Forget about the cosmetic fix occasional initiated from Dakar like the one in the pipeline on March 29, 2020, because, I bet, sooner rather than later the blockade will come back right to how it started in 1989.
What a shame to have the chief manipulator, their former UN Ambassador Foday Seck deployed to the Gambia as the Czar to monitor and protect the spoils of the war he won for President Mackey Sall without a shot being fired. The man was responsible for conning our low-caliber diplomats and is now a coach to President Barrow misguiding the Gambia government towards economic self-destruction.
I am definitely convinced that nothing will ever come out of coaxing Senegal to ease up the border blockade in the absence of their desired Senegambia federation. President Mackey Sall will never allow it; Czar Foday Seck will always pretend to be working to fix it; our Gambian puppets still colluding with them will be playing second fiddle while their Transport Union members continue to enforce it; in fact, among the duties of Czar Foday Seck nestled at the Senegalo-Gambia secretariat in Banjul is to ensure the compliance of our current government and preventing President Barrow from complaining about the despotism anywhere beyond our borders. Jawara and Jammeh used to report the matter all over the world and would as a result receive adequate economic assistance from sympathetic allies that always kept us float above water; conversely, President Adama Barrow might end up inadvertently drowning us by being forbidden to protest against the blockade to Gambia’s development partners.
Their strategy of instilling fear in him that the survivability of his government depends solely on the security provided for him, lest Jammeh’s loyalists will take over the country, evidently narrow our chances of wriggling out of this quicksand. Unfortunately, Barrow, so far, seems to believe every baloney they preach around him.
They had for eight years used similarly scare tactics on Sir Dawda Jawara constantly warning him of Kukoi Samba Sanyang, the bogyman, patiently lurking in the peripheries waiting for the departure of their army to move in and topple his government, until the old man realized the hoax and booted them out. My main dilemma now is the duration it will take for President Barrow to notice the baloney and take the necessary actions to save the country before it is too late.
This should be the concern of every Gambian since 2016 instead of wasting precious time, energy and resources tearing each other apart and gradually losing our sovereignty.
Where the hell is the conscience of our government? Where are the analytical and critical voices from the executive, legislature and judiciary? Why are heads of our major security forces, the Gambia Armed Forces, the Gambia Police Force and the Gambia Security Intelligence Services so silent about the quagmire? Yes, where the hell is the conscience of our numerous political parties, the bar association, the student unions, civil rights organization, media fraternities, the business community and of course the religious leaders? No one will be exonerated tomorrow from being an accomplice to this self-destructive phenomenon, if you remain indifferent until Senegal succeeds in their ploy to destroy our economy forcing us to capitulate our national sovereignty to them.
If you fellows are listening and are serious about helping our country, please note that it is your responsibility, and a well overdue obligation to echo our concerns to President Adama Barrow, advising him to immediately start reversing this unsustainable trajectory by urgently applying practical measures commensurable with these:
To expel the Senegalese warmongers deployed in the country under the guise of ECOMIG peacekeepers when there was never any kind of political violence in the country warranting their deployment in the first place. If what obtains is not prototypical double standard then why not send the ECOMIG troops to where they could be more useful today, in Guinea Conakry, an ECOWAS member state torn apart daily by deadly political violence?
To terminate the contract of Senegalese troops entrusted with the guard duties of the president and his family, handing over that national responsibility back to our men and women in uniform. Whosoever controls the security of a country at that level controls among many things its national agenda at all times. Wasn’t it pure “yabbateh” when last Saturday, Senegalese Gendarmerie officers without any consultation with our authorities illegally crossed into a Gambian village, terrorizing the inhabitants, firing live rounds from automatic rifles and injuring a suspect before arresting and taking him away back to Senegal? Where are the Gambian voices to condemn such illegal intrusions?
To delineate a new national security organization derived from a Gambian-tailored policy, unique to our national security interest and to be actualized by our own security forces without foreign interference. Such achievement could evolve into a sustainable and meaningful Gambian Security-Sector Reform far more pragmatic than the sham being presently experimented. Upon acknowledging with regret the flaws of the Gambia security forces in the past decades, prevalent in most national security establishments but usually convertible into tutorials for improvement, I believe we should firmly stand by our men and women serving us patriotically for over twenty-five years and keeping the country satisfactorily safe while diligently performing their international obligations with dignity and respect. I believe their mistakes will never be repeated and as such, shouldn’t be exploited to trivialize their significance in preference of foreign troops, especially these breeds of “Coronavirus-Senegalese soldiers”.
To do the Gambians one special favor of re-inaugurating the Yillitenda-Bambatenda Bridge, stripping it off its current unsuitable name “Senegambia Bridge” and giving it its ever-desirable name, the “TRANS-GAMBIA BRIDGE”, period. That bridge is ours and sits on a highway-the Trans-Gambia Highway-that well before our independence in 1965 represented one of the laudable landmarks of Gambia’s heritage. Sharing its identity and ownership with Senegal purposely to promote Mackey Sall’s political objectives, was tantamount to self-marginalization. No wonder their soldiers now think Senegal equally own the bridge and can therefore be willfully closed and opened by them to any traffic disregarding our government. I have no qualms on Gambia consolidating a friendly bilateral relationship with Senegal but only if hinged on mutual benefit and respect; but what I noticed happening over the decades and increasingly getting appalling is far from that.
If the president doesn’t know how to handle these basic national tasks or is in short supply of the right specialists to take it up for him, hey, I am readily available and quite willing to assist along with my team of special volunteers asking for no pay and no foreign advisors.
Thanks for reading. Till next week!
New York City