By: Ebrima Sonko, Seattle, WA.
In the face of immense pressure from sections of our society to move away from the several years of success registered in the fight against Female Genital Mutilation in the Gambia, primarily championed by Women and Civil Society organizations, representatives of the Gambian House of Parliament rallied and debated to remove the criminalization of female cutting from the Women’s Act 2010, relying on some wildly ridiculous arguments to justify for its continuance.
The nonchalant conduct of our parliamentarians in respect to thoroughly understanding the sensitivity of such a subject matter and neglecting to engage with relevant parties, particularly women, reinforces the level of patriarchy, misplaced priorities, and frankly disregard for women and their problems in the Gambia.
While the sheer incompetence of members of this house as they deliberated on this issue and others was manifestly glaring, representatives within such institutions legally assigned to perform critical functions as law-making and oversight roles are far removed from any urgency to prioritize critical national issues such as legal and security reforms, corruption and more.
To put this into perspective, the National Assembly of the Gambia has already set itself up for significant salary increments, which includes its administrative staff, while issues to address the compounding problems for the people are stalled for these greedy bunch. They would go on to legislate and approve procuring 2.5 million vehicles for members of the house.
While we may argue that members of our public institutions are either too ignorant to perform their duties or just incompetent or the overall public service infrastructure has failed to deliver any meaningful change for our people, one cannot overlook the countless times that public servants within the Gambia engineered ways to fatten their pockets at the expense of everyone else, including the President of the Gambia and his cabinet ministers.
The recent Judicial Officers Remuneration Bill designed to set the judicial fraternity for a lifetime financial compensation is another example of how public servants in the Gambia use legal means to orchestrate deadly schemes without remorse for a country where everyone lives in poverty.
While the ongoing parliamentary saga rages on, reports emerge that two paramilitary officers were gunned down during a drive-by shooting. As unusual as this tragedy may seem, it’s not an unforeseen consequence in light of the rising criminal activities and lack of safety for people and their properties in the Gambia, stemming from the abysmal failure and abdication of the state to curb these protracting national security problems.
For a country whose national security is in the hands of foreign troops and refuses to equip its local security apparatus with modern security training and development, including security equipment, the sad resultant effect is officers falling prey to violent individuals and gangs who find it within themselves to attack and kill officers on duty and generally people in their houses and streets.
The Gambia government and its allied institutions have blood on their hands. No compensation or accountability for the perpetrators will compensate for this failure as primary duty bearers to protect everyone within the polity. Gambia is not safe. Never has been, and our recent past bellies any suggestion that we are peaceful. I pray for the fallen officers and hope their families find peace in their grief.