The SIS boss said covid-19 is not only a health problem but more importantly as a national security matter given that it threatens the very existence of our survival and wellbeing as a people in addition to its enormous socio-economic burden on the state.
“Covid-19 is a new phenomenon that the whole world is overwhelmingly grappling with as its impact continues to tremendously affect all spheres of life; ranging from the economy, health and overall regional and international peace and security.”
The SIS boss was lecturing the visiting Nigerian Military personnel from the Nigerian Staff College.
The lecture was anchored on the perspective of the SIS on “the impact of covid-19 on national efforts towards regional security”. The presentation highlighted how Covid-19 affected the character and conduct of security cooperation and enhancement within the sub region.
The SIS, he explained, from the outset forecast the pandemic as a crucial national security issue with serious bearings on the budget, development and human security imperatives of the Gambia. “As such, like many other counties, the Gambia’s economy and national security has been greatly overwhelmed not only due to lack of capacity but also the fact that most of the state budget is concentrated on fighting the pandemic at the disadvantage of other crucial national development priorities.”
Regionally, he said, the opening of borders have inadvertently culminated into the influx of drugs within the region, citing the recently published report by Interpol that about 100 Million Euros worth of drugs were seized within Africa. This he stressed, demonstrates how the pandemic is helping to flourish the drug trade around the world with Africa being a convenient transit zone for drugs emanating mainly from the Middle East and Latin America.
Aside from the surge of drugs, he added, the pandemic also has the potential to create a safe haven for terrorists to hide or carry on their plans. Sowe observed that with surge of terrorism in the Sahel, no country within the sub-region is safe as terrorist may leverage on the fragile situation of all the countries within to maximize their activities.
The pointed out that the pandemic has negatively undermined regional cooperation and development particularly on free movement of goods and services within the region. The situation for Africa, he observed, is such that it may take considerable time to recover from the impact of the pandemic while citing the recently concluded Paris meeting which projects about 285 billion dollars required to stimulate Africa’s recovery in the next two years.
Asked by participants what lessons could be drawn from the pandemic, the DG stressed that the impact of the pandemic demonstrates how dependent Africa is on foreign donors. He added that the impact of the pandemic also brings to light the fact that health, is a matter of fact and also a national security matter and must be treated as such.