On the Army Rice Project: Letter to the CDS (Part 1)
I salute you my dear brother, Chief of Defence Staff of The Gambia Armed Forces (GAF),
I actually have a draft letter on the situation of our armed and security services but it has been overtaken by events with your recent unveiling of a deal for agricultural production under the aegis of GAF.
Is it really true that your institution is ready for a multi million dollar engagement with a company based in South Africa, with the illusion of ending rice importation into The Gambia?
Commander, this development is certainly startling for me because we all know that our army, as at now, is not fit for the purpose it was morally and legally set up due to myriad reasons that are not the fault of the average officer. Is your army a united and structurally sound institution during this transitional period we are all trudging through? Is the level of morale high enough and does the high command enjoy a healthy relationship with the men and women in the ranks as at now?
In view of all the above concerns and the fact that we have a foreign force in town to guarantee our security while our fledging security sector reform process remains everything but a success; what makes you think that The Gambia Armed Forces can embark on such a daunting adventure and make a success out of the project?
I definitely need answers to these questions. Or better still, the public deserves some level of clarification in the face of such monumental obfuscation. The dearth of necessary information coming from your end makes this whole project suspect. And please do not expect me to believe that a commercial entity will commit millions of dollars towards a project like this without our country coming up with matching resources or guarantees (sovereign or otherwise) to cover the risks on the side of the capitalists.
In the absence of credible and reassuring answers to the foregoing questions, I can assure you that this project you intend to embark upon is very likely going to join others, like the infamous Jahali Pacharr Project, in the grave yard of failed agricultural misadventures dating back to the Jawara era.
To be fair, you have one thing in your favour should you go ahead with this project but that thing may be a necessary condition but it doesn’t constitute a sufficient prerequisite for success…
Commander, Let me fall out at this point, hoping to hear from your end before I proceed with the sequel to this first epistle addressed to your respected office.
Once again, I salute you Sir.
Former S.G, Economist and author.