By Modou Modou
Governments around the world often emphasize the fundamental importance they attach to maintaining their countries’ national security. When people encounter the phrase “national security,” they tend to understand it in relation to military threats. However, this is a minimalist and reductionist approach.
Contemporary connotations of national security go beyond military threats to include maintaining a nation’s way of life, creating employment opportunities, and food security, among other areas (Hopple, 2019). In modern democratic governance where power lies with a sovereign people, national security is ensured not only by building strong military forces but also by enacting and implementing public policies that drive social, economic, and political progress. National security is supported by an inclusive polity. No government starts with a perfect polity but rather works to progress it over time. Instead of developing policies that address the problems of inequality, poverty, injustice, and lawlessness, however, most politicians and policymakers talk more than they work. The Gambia is a typical example of a nation where successive regimes have failed miserably to sustain socioeconomic growth. Both its past and its present policies may be reduced to platitudes and soundbites. Youth unemployment, gender inequality, and social injustice are not adequately addressed.
As a result, structural imbalances have continued to worsen, leading to increased poverty and reduced health and quality of education and for the majority of the population. In order to steer away from poverty toward prosperity, the government must devise realistic public policies that are in tandem with modern global trends by ensuring that development is the centerpiece of its policies and programs.
Today, the number of youths without gainful employment is alarming. In fact, there are more unemployed than employed youths, which is largely attributable to poor government policies. The country’s education system is also out of touch with the contemporary needs of society. While technical education would make a significant difference in preparing youth for the job market after high school, such is not the case. The education curriculum must be redesigned to incorporate such fields as farming, horticulture, animal husbandry, tailoring, carpentry, masonry, and welding, among others, to give these subjects the prominence they deserve. Prioritizing these areas would go a long way in imparting practical skills in the youth and enable them to contribute meaningfully to national development, because these areas form the basic building blocks of the country’s economy. Farmers have also been left behind and find it difficult to survive in the country’s unpredictable situation. The government does not provide any subsidies to farmers nor insurance against crop failure. The government should consider developing agriculture through improving and increasing irrigation schemes, as well as by helping farmers market their products. It should also provide subsidized loans to farmers to facilitate their purchasing of farm equipment, fertilizers, seeds, and high-grade animals, among their other needs. The Gambia’s national security is currently under threat.
As things stand, a definitive remedial policy action should be taken to contain the ongoing protests and demonstrations taking place in the country. Without meaningful action, these protests could morph into full-scale violence, undermining national stability. An increase in pro-government and anti-government protests risks dividing the country further along political and ethnic lines. This could inspire other groups that have been marginalized for many years to join in. The government should devise policy to contain the current situation and return the country to normalcy.
In conclusion, national security encompasses more elements than only military threats. Any government should ensure that peace and stability are in abundance for all citizens so that they can lead less troubled lives. National security is under threat in many sectors in The Gambia. The government should address numerous issues,ranging from the economic and the political to social issues, to ensure the country’s national security.
Hopple, G. W. (2019). National security crisis forecasting and management. Routledge.