My Dear brother and respected Commander,
I send you greetings from Monrovia, the city of my sojourn for this blessed week of May, 27- 31, that happens to coincide with the last 10 days of Ramadan, 2019.
Indeed Liberia should ring a bell in your mind just like it did with me even before I deplaned at Roberts International Airport because this is the place where we suffered our first ever casualties in the field of war since we established our fledgling national army in the mid-eighties. May Allah bless the souls of the late Corporal Modou Bojang and Private Sama Jawo who fell to enemy fire at the onset of the ECOMOG regional peace keeping mission that entered this country in 1990, with the aim of quelling the horrendous Liberian civil war that would later spill into Sierra Leone with heart-renting consequences.
As we would say in our civil service parlance back home, “the subject of this letter refers”. You would recall that I dispatched part 1 of this correspondence about a fortnight ago with a promise to finish it starting with the premise that you may have one good thing going for you regarding your attempt at getting our armed forces involved in commercial agriculture. That thing would be the discipline usually associated with the security services. Alas, my inclination towards that argument was shattered by the ricochetting thunder of a trigger happy soldier who opened fire on an unarmed driver of a passenger vehicle for not stopping at a checkpoint in the Village of Kanilai, Foni Kansala.
The fact that both the perpetrator and the apparently unruly victim of this scary incident are both products of your institution tells a lot about the state of mind of our men and women in uniform. Don’t get me wrong Sir, I know you have hundreds of highly trained and conscientious officers in your force, but is it not the few rotten potatoes that render the whole bag of potatoes suspect?
In addition to the foregoing premises, I was privileged to listen to an interview by fellow Economist Dr. Gajigo concerning this subject matter on Kerr Fatou’s “The Brunch” talk show and he also made some important arguments, opining that your proposed venture into this agriculture project is not a good move. He averred that the company you want to partner with in this project is not fit and proper. He went on the record to state emphatically that the company you intend to partner with, AGCO, had been engulfed in bribery in multiple jurisdictions leading to heavy fines as penalties for their infractions of due process. Indeed given the low probability of financial success in this proposed venture I am not surprised that the company concerned could be involved in bribery in their past ventures. The economics term that hit my mind when I first heard about your planned venture was: rent-seeking behaviour! Therefore I feel vindicated that your proposed partner in this business Is allegedly associated with the foregoing unfavourable traits.
My dear brother, let me hasten to acknowledge here that I would not have come up with this sequel given the revelations and arguments advanced by other concerned voices including Madi Jobarteh. But I was alerted about a rebuttal by our so-called “Dr.” Henry Carrrol on this matter published by The Standard newspaper. As usual Henry Carrol was very obnoxious in his approach to a very decent debate we have been engaged in on this matter. Knowing how the Gambian psyche works, I thought it fitting to come up with this second part to diffuse the misinformation Henry Carrol spewed into this discussion.
In the estimation of many Gambians, Henry Carrol qualifies as the nation’s Chief Clown and he deserves a fitting coronation to that effect, for many reasons. So I would not directly respond to his rambling verbiage for the Mandinka proverb is true ‘Ning Faloe yeh e danfu e yaa danfu, faloe leh fisayaa ta e teh ti’ ( if a Donkey kicks you and you kick it in revenge, then the donkey is better/sounder than you.).
Yet the nation’s chief clown deserves some sort of finger-wagging. Henry is akin to the proverbial petulant kid who runs amok, farting around the bantaba, when the village elders are engaged in serious discussions regarding important matters of the community. Henry Carrol is trying to polute our national conversation with his obnoxious overtures but we cannot afford to entertain that in these trying times of ours. He surely deserves serious lashing to ‘tune him up’ if I may swipe some military parlance here. A few lashes commensurate with his biological age would be in order since maturity unfortunately does not necessarily come with age.
Let me confess here, Honourable CDS, that I hesitantly started this series of epistles addressed to you because of the respect I have for you and also the tough circumstances we face in our so-called New Gambia, where attempts at decent, honest conversations about matters of public interest are usually misconstrued for personal attacks. But I had to make bold to do this because we have made too many mistakes too soon in the past two years of this coalition government. Too many bad deals were signed; and the security forces are once again getting involved in the shedding of innocent blood (from Kanilai to Faraba Banta) even before the attempt at correcting the errors of the past government bears fruit. Therefore it is important that we advise one another and attempt to correct erroneous steps before it gets too late.
I will dilate on this situation in part 3 of this series. But for now let me seek your kind permission to fall out Sir?
Former Presidential Affairs Minister, Economist