Nov 30, 2011, 11:47 AM
Barely a month after the decoration of some senior military officers of the Gambia Armed Forces, President Yahya Jammeh Wednesday presided over the piping and swearing in ceremony for 11 other officers of the armed forces.
The officers, who took six different oaths, were elevated to the ranks of major, lieutenant colonel and colonel respectively. They form the third batch of officers to be promoted within the past two months.
Momodou Alieu Bah, Salifu Bojang, Sait Njie, Essa Tamba, and Musa Trawally were elevated from the rank of Major to Lieutenant Colonel; whilst Dr Alkali Conteh, Malamin Jarju, Paul S. Gomez, Paul Arthur Gomez, and Hina Sambou were promoted from the rank of lieutenant colonel to colonel respectively, while Omar Bojang, the army public relations officer, was elevated from the rank of lieutenant to major.
Speaking at the ceremony, President Jammeh, who is also the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, underscored his government’s resolve to build a modern, well-educated and professional armed and security services, while pledging to send 25 members of the armed and security forces to university to study in relevant fields, each year beginning this year.
According to him, university education is not restricted to civilians only but also extends to the armed and security forces. He stated that gone are the days when the armed and security services of the country were a place of “dropouts and disgruntled elements in society”, adding that the security services will witness the births of doctors, scientists, and philosophers, among others.
This, he added, is among others geared towards changing the perception on what it used to be until recently to a more positive one.
“As from today, it is no longer an army of dropouts, or disgruntled elements of society. In any security outfit you can become a doctor, a scientist, an engineer, and you can become anything you want, as long as you have the knowledge and determination to pursue that. Under my command, you can start from zero in the armed forces and become the best scientist in the whole world, as long as you have the determination,” Jammeh stated.
“So don’t say that I want to be a doctor, but if I join the army or the police I will not achieve that. No! As from now, every year, we will send at least 25 members of the armed and security services to university to study in critical fields,” he declared.
However, the President expressed the need for members of the armed and security services to nurture determination, perseverance and courage, which he said, are indispensable steps to success.
Jammeh went on to emphasize his earlier pronouncements that the government under his watchful eyes is not one of any tribe, but a government of The Gambia. While denouncing tribalism, he warned that as far as he is concerned, all those who believe in tribalism will be kicked out of the army or the civil service.
“There is no compromise on that, because united we stand, divided we fall. Those who work based on tribes are only bent on dividing us and, therefore, they do not want us to stand, but want the country to fall,” he further stated.
The Gambian leader also made it clear that his government is not a government where one is rewarded for being a senior person.
“You are rewarded for your merit,” he said, noting that this applies to not only the armed forces, but the entire government, including the civil service.
He also announced plans to expand the current structure of the Gambia Armed Forces to set up units or corps that will work towards enhancing the development of the army, and the society in general.
Lt General Masanneh Kinteh, chief of defence staff of the armed forces, noted that the recent promotions in the army have been attributed to the fact that recently GAF has been undergoing tremendous restructuring that cuts across all levels of the armed forces from the grassroots to the level of the headquarters.
According to him, the beneficiaries of the promotions were carefully selected, based on their competencies. He said almost all of the officers have completed their mid and senior military officers’ courses.
While expressing confidence that the officers will take ownership of the transformations in GAF, CDS Kinteh reminded the officers that they have responsibilities to lead men and women in good and bad times, and advised them to maintain a high sense of unity, loyalty and commitment to national duty.
Other speakers at the ceremony were Ousman Sonko, the minister of the Interior, Sheriff Gomez, minister of Youth and Sports, and Fatou Lamin Faye, minister of Basic and Secondary Education.
Harry Sambou, permanent secretary at the ministry of defence, chaired the ceremony.