By Madi Jorbateh
It is indeed very scary and extremely disappointing to hear Chief Servant Adama Barrow claim that he has more power than Tyrant Yaya Jammeh simply because, just like Yaya Jammeh, he also owns the security institutions of this country as well as ECOMIG. That statement is utterly false, ignorant and a clear betrayal of the people. The truth is Yaya Jammeh never owned any public institution in this country even when he claimed to and misused them for his diabolical purposes. Therefore, any reference that Yaya Jammeh owned any state institution is not true.
Let Adama Barrow know that he does not even own the seat he occupies as President of the Republic. That seat belongs to the Gambian People only and he is only entrusted with it to serve the citizens of this country hence he is nothing other than a mere Servant of the people. The CDS, IGP and Director Generals of all security sector institutions must educate Adama Barrow that he does not own any of those institutions and that these institutions belong to only the Gambian People.
Therefore Mr. Adama Barrow, President of the Republic of the Gambia, I wish to put it to you that no Gambian citizen, whether an elected or appointed official or private citizen owns any public institution. The Gambia’s public institutions are the creation of the Gambia Constitution based on the sovereignty of the people of the Gambia. These institutions do not operate based on the whims and caprices of any person, much less a president, but that they operate according to the rule of law as spelled out in the 1997 Constitution and other laws of the Gambia.
State institutions are sovereign institutions mandated to perform their functions on behalf of the people and for the welfare of the people as stated in Section 1 subsection 2 of our Constitution. That section in fact states, first of all, that the sovereignty of the Gambia resides in the people of the Gambia and all organs of the government derive their authority and legitimacy from the people. Hence Barrow’s own authority and legitimacy as president is derived from the people and not from himself or God. The same applies to the national army, police, NIA, prisons, immigration and customs all other state institutions.
Hence it is indeed scary and infantile for any elected or appointed official to claim ownership of any State institution. The security and civil sector institutions are national institutions that do not belong to any individual regardless of one’s status.
We recall how Dictator Yaya Jammeh used to call the University of the Gambia his private property just as how he claimed ownership of GRTS and its cameras as well as claiming to own government vehicles. That was an ignorant statement that can come only from a corrupt and unpatriotic president. It was precisely because of such blatant abuse of power and disregard of the rule of law that Gambians voted out Yaya Jammeh on 1st December 2016 to elect Adama Barrow who took public office as president on 19th January 2017.
That two years later we would see a democratically elected president like him to state that he also owns the country’s security institutions hence has power is the most undemocratic, ignorant, unpatriotic and hurtful statement any president could utter. Yaya Jammeh misused and subverted the constitutional and legitimate mandate of these security sector institutions to rape, torture and kill Gambians. That is not the mandate of the police or army or intelligence agencies of the Gambia. But these institutions became tools of oppression and misery for Gambians simply because there was a president who transformed these institutions into weapons against our people for which he had no power whatsoever to do so. Is this what Adama Barrow also wants to do now?
Hence it is very insulting that Adama Barrow could not find any better idea or decent example to properly express himself with pride other than to refer to the abuses of Yaya Jammeh as the basis for his own power and purpose. Is Adama Barrow telling us that the NIA was exercising their lawful mandate when they arrested and tortured Solo Sandeng to death. Is Adama Barrow telling us that the PIU and the army were exercising their lawful mandate when they used to arbitrarily arrest, detain, torture and shoot to kill Gambians? Is Adama Barrow telling Gambians that the Junglers and Bulldozer security units were lawful institutions since Yaya Jammeh created them?
Gambians need to wake up right now to directly confront the dictatorial tendencies and utterances of Adama Barrow. I cannot believe that any decent human being, much more a president who replaced Yaya Jammeh, would use the abuses, atrocities, corruption and illegality of Yaya Jammeh as a basis for his own intentions and actions. According to this audio by Adama Barrow it means therefore that Yaya Jammeh was a normal democratic leader who acted according to law. Otherwise why reference the illegality of a dictator as the reason for your own power?
I want to inform Adama Barrow that as president he has no power over the people of the Gambia. There is nowhere in our Constitution that gives him any power over the people. The only powers he has in our Constitution are OBLIGATIONS to respect and protect and fulfil rights and needs of Gambians through state institutions which are either security or civil in nature. Therefore, any decision and action he makes must be according to our Constitution which sets out the rule of law with checks and balances to ensure that he remains within the law.
After all, when Adama Barrow said he has more power than Yaya Jammeh, if he ever has, what does he intend to do with that power anyway? Let him tell us.
For the Gambia Our Homeland.