Distinction: As for the case of the hottest pepper tree, his mantle came to grip public imagination meeting a tragic death at the hands of trigger-happy APRC bandits disguised in uniform. On that fateful night, he became The Gambia’s ‘Ken Saro-Wiwa’ magnified to be the reference figure bridging consensus for an oppressed people.
A dedicated family man, Solo Sandeng was a shining star and an icon against injustice. He embodies selfless act by sending a clear message to a criminal president dividing a nation on frivolous lines. On that very day, Sandeng and his group exhibit distinguish bravery marching against a paranoid dictator all alone in the dark contours of Jammeh’s killing generals. In his life and death, he carries with him a legacy eked in history, and a lesson to people everywhere.
And as we reflect on that troubled past with the future in mind, suddenly it occurred to me that there shall be no justice in the Gambia until and unless parliament demarcate a Presidential term limit, unchangeable, thus sacrosanct. In my opinion, anything less shall be a travesty and an insult to the memory of all those who sacrificed for a cause, a noble cause indeed, seeing to it that The Gambia is wrestled away from the clutches of tyranny.
A special thought cordially reserved for the memory of every Gambian who sacrificed themselves for us to enjoy the kind of freedoms taken for granted today. In moments of quiet contemplation, we extend profound gratitude and appreciations to the families of fallen comrades left behind. We should cherish their memories, and learn to rebuild our own gallant heroes too. In so doing, we will stamp a deserved legacy on true patriots, who, out of empathy and love-for-country embarked on correcting a major injustice.
Honourable Members of Parliament – It is against the backdrop of that tragedy & the events leading to our new-found freedoms that I ask you to consider the above motion:
In todays’ world, global citizens continue to deliberate over the true meaning of life and if wealth equates to happiness. We should remember that – Money and riches come and go, that freedom is priceless. After the Korean War of 1950’s, the ‘South’ suddenly rose from the ashes of that conflict to a highly developed country. Singapore with no natural resources defied the odds fast transformed to the very top as an economic miracle. So what is the excuse for Gambia’s new leaders? After 22 years of failures, the country is on a sound footing deeply secured in National Security terms.
Although patience is required, together, we will rebuild our country brick-by-brick from the bottom-up. I write grateful for the multilateral partnerships and arrangements with ECOWAS, AU, UN, EU, and the ICC, growing stronger by the day. A Foreign Ministry official told me the level of good-will from countries around the world looking to engage Gambia is humbling, not surprised, I said, going on to discuss contributions the diaspora is making in communities around the world.
All across Africa the era of coup d’etat is over, out of style consigned to the past. The digital age has taken over in an era of smartphones, social media & worldwide interconnections in a battle of ideas, prosperous livelihoods, infrastructural development and accountable leadership. In his inaugural address to Parliament, President Barrow reminded in strict terms that the days when the military represent the face of government is over. That is significant as the case in Senegal, Ghana or the United Kingdom.
The Gambia shall always be a police state with regards to internal security with the cops running the show. We, the public, task the Gambia Police Force to rise up to those challenges seeing to it that the rule of law prevails & normalised in new-Gambia.
If I had a say in, the institution of the army, and old-NIA will be disbanded – to start a recruitment drive afresh based on citizenship, loyalty to state, and ability. But since the status quo remains on recommendations of ECOMIG and army HQ, internal reform & restructure won the day. But I will say this – please arrest and weed out every single ‘Cassamance’ rebel fused into various layers of the security apparatus. And drop the fake-Generals, Majors and untrained-Colonels stamped-upon APRC loyalty badges.
Be warned, promotions in the Army and Police and every other public institution shall be exposed to public scrutiny and measurement in terms of merit, qualification, and all that. After decades of abysmal failures, the army has got to downsize to a smaller but effective well-trained force in logistics, engineers, doctors, architects and such modern military ways. After years of service, this allows for former service personnel to have ready-made careers in civilian employment. The emerging Armed-Forces need to recognise these trends and to be academically tailored in strategic and such affairs. In a collective regional accord for the maintenance of state sovereignty, let it be known a combination of ECOWAS and AU brutal force will defeat any group of soldiers ever attempt a coup & restore popular rule.
With the coalition-government going about plans drawing up a new constitution, the power of parliament has to be adequately reflected making sure appointments to key government posts and major executive decisions are subject to parliamentary scrutiny and approval. In true democratic fashion, the three arms of government must stand strong & independent of each other with clearly defined powers; and as institutions of oversight in a separation-of-powers and check-and-balances arrangement.
To his Family – The public have recognised the sacrifice and bravery Solo Sandeng took on that defining day. For, the gruesome crimes and depravity committed by the former regime remains fresh in our memory. No matter how long it takes, be rest assured Yahya Jammeh and his henchmen will face the long arm of the law, and to be hit with punitive strikes for every drop of blood. In his final interview, Mr Sandeng prophesized these words ‘’if by sacrificing myself the Gambia will be free, I will sacrifice.’’ A profound statement indeed, sending a declaration – NEVER AGAIN are we to allow any soldier, or government to trample or abuse constitutional rights because #GambiaHasDecided. As the country come to grips with its past in truth and reconciliation, we gather strength from the fountain of faith in that unique way of life #OneGambia #OnePeople, whilst singing tyranny against one, is an injustice against all of us.
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By Gibril Saine