Who will not envy and give credit and kudos to the Gambian President whose Commonwealth debut visit and performance was a complete success? President Barrow showed a real statesmanship starting from his meeting at Chatham House with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair to the state banquet with the Queen Elizabeth II of England. Mr. Barrow stole the whole show by sitting next to the Queen. Of all the more than 50 heads of state and government, it is not a coincidence for President Barrow to sit next to Queen. It is a calculated protocol that has been sanctioned or ordered by Queen Elizabeth. Gambian President did well in an interview with BBC’ s Zainab Badawi where he deliberated eloquently on the new role of our military. The relationship between the Commander-in-chief of the armed forced and the military is cordial. The President is right when he said our military needs restructuring after 22 years of unprofessional military conduct and behaviour. Quantity is not what is important in the Gambian military but quality. The military needs to understand its role in society which they didn’t under the Jammeh dictatorship. In a democracy like ours, President Barrow said, the military should not be doing police duties; rather they should be confined to their barracks.
The President also did well when asked about the issue of tribalism. His answer that he has never been contemplated tribalism in his administration will leave his enemies baffled. Mr. Barrow concurred that leaders come and go but the Gambia remains which is why all Gambians should work together for the good of the country.
One of the biggest burdens facing the Gambia is economic. This fact was underscored by Mr. Blair at his opening remarks at Chatham House. Tony Blair’s organization is part of the think tank closely working with the Barrow government to oversee that proper policies and decisions are made and implemented. Mr. Blair is currently working in many countries around the world, including Sierra Leone, to assist weak governments to build strong and transparent institutions. Chatham House cooperates with governments that are committed to the core values of democracy, transparency, the rule of law and economic welfare of its citizens.
The Gambia’s technocrats have a big role and responsibility towards the citizens they are serving. These technocrats – whether they know it or not – are the engine of President Barrow’s administration. They have to deliver otherwise the public verdict against the Barrow government will be very hash. The technocrats include all ministerial employees, General Directors, Managing Directors and all civil service employees. These are the people and institutions that are to take the Gambia to the next level. You will hear time and time Mr. Barrow saying he has people around him that he trust are committed to deliver good performance. To lift our country to the next level requires us to be honest to our selves and practice good work attitude. In essence, we must get rid of institutional corruption. What belongs to the state belongs to the Gambian people and therefore one has no right to enrich oneself with public resources. We should all jealously guard and protect the nation’s resources. This is what we make us Patriotic Good Citizenship. These basics must be applied if we want to live and dream big. Only a few must not enjoy this right.
On the issue of the gay rights issue, our President cannot be clearer and therefore decided to give a very diplomatic answer to a very complex question. We in the Gambia and for that matter many African countries, have no problems with gay issues like in Europe. For us, it is not about gay rights; it is about about the fabrics of our society. The European gay issue is not a problem or an issue for our society. People in our country and even those who perceive themselves as gay have other priorities on the table. The are concerned with the day to day survival of how to but food on the table for their families rather than being consumed with fear of being discriminated against. We need schools, jobs, education, good health service, good roads and better economic standards. These are the concerns of an average Gambian and African in general whole. The rights of all citizens are protected under the constitution which includes the right to choose the way of life one wishes as long as that way of life doesn’t infringe on the rights of others or society.
To the critics of President Barrow, I want to hear about your thoughts about the Commonwealth trip. We all have China and Turkey fresh in our minds.
May God Bless the Gambia!