By Basidia M Drammeh
When former President Yahya Jammeh surprisingly conceded to Barrow before he made his infamous U-turn, Jammeh implored his successor to prioritize national security, insisting that without peace, Barrow would achieve nothing.
Four years down the line, Jammeh’s prophecy came true with a country once known as a bastion of peace and security entangled in unprecedented insecurity. In his traditional Eid message, President acknowledged the issue, warning that the crimes taking place in the country pose a threat to peace and stability.
The gruesome killing of a 36-year-old lady in Mandinaring, the stabbing of a Senegalese vendor in Westfield and the robbing of a Lebanese businessman at gunpoint add to a catalogue of serious criminal activities that have raised eyebrows in the country, with no end in sight. Though the Gambian police and other security agencies have launched what they have dubbed as Zero Crime campaign in recent times, the crime rate has been on the rise and shows no sign of abating.
Apart from logistical challenges, the security apparatus lacks visible leadership. Despite recurrent security incidents, the Minister of Interior, who is ultimately charged with internal security, has never held a press conference or issue a press release outlining his plans to deal with the dire security situation in the country. Though President Barrow expressed concern over the mounting insecurity in the country in his Eid message to the nation, he fell short of spelling out concrete and tangible measures to combat crime and criminality in the country. Criminals should hear a tougher tone and stricter action.
The insecurity that has rocked the nation in recent times has serious socio-economic consequences for the country. The people of a country that has branded itself as the smiling coast of Africa are fearful of their lives and properties. An economy that heavily relies on tourism stands to suffer as tourists will get scared to be in a country where armed and professional criminal gangs could attack them. Insecurity will equally scare potential investors away. Foreign business people could be mulling over moving out to more peaceful countries.
This is a crucial year for the Gambia as the nation gears up for presidential elections; hence the government needs to ensure that security is maintained to conduct free, fair and transparent elections.
President Barrow and his top security brass must draw up a comprehensive plan to institute law and order. The alarming insecurity is a cause of great concern that needs to be handled with the highest sense of urgency and emergency before the situation spirals out of hand. Inaction in the face of this National security threat stands to scupper the President’s development agenda and plunge the country into the unknown!