Gambia’s FIRST FEMALE ARMY GENERAL DECORATED
Thursday, May 12, 2011
The president of the Republic and commander-in-chief of the Gambia Armed Forces (GAF), yesterday presided over the decoration and swearing-in ceremony of The Gambia’s first female Brigadier General ?and another senior male officer at State House in Banjul.
The officers, Ramatoulie DK Sanneh, elevated from the rank of Colonel to Brigardier General, and Ousman Gomez, from Lt. Colonel to Colonel who were recently promoted took six different oaths, swearing on the Holy Book according to their faith. These decorations came barely three weeks after six other officers were decorated by the commander-in-chief. Like the previous officers, the two also pledged to always work towards the maintenance of the high standard of unity, progress, camaraderie and discipline in GAF.
President Jammeh in his usual words of wisdom, once again reiterated his zero tolerance policy on the twin menaces of drug trafficking and corruption, especially in the army, emphasising that they will not be tolerated in whatever form. The Gambian leader acknowledged the strides in the army, but however urged GAF high command to redouble their efforts in combating drug dealing and alcoholism; menaces which he described as “a dangerous threat to the armed forces”. He added: “This is becoming a problem – you go around and a soldier was fighting on the street – what happened? He was drunk!”
The Gambian leader stressed that three things that will not be compromised in the army irrespective who is concerned are; dishonesty, corruption, and drugs trafficking. “Anybody arrested with drugs or found smoking drugs must leave the army. There is no compromise and it is not only to dismiss him and let him go; if you cannot court martial him, dismiss him and hand him over to the NDEA to be prosecuted. So you have a choice; if you chose to sell drugs, leave the army; if you chose to use drugs, leave the army. For drugs, even if you are caught with one gram, you are going home,” he warned.
The commander-in-chief then stressed that a soldier is an example to the rest of humanity, while underscoring that the army is a noble profession because it is only the soldiers who are ready to put their neck on the line for the rest of the country to sleep in peace. The president further stressed that a soldier is an embodiment of self-dignity and esteem for a human being given their noble task of defending the country and protecting the lives and properties of the people.
He added: “Whatever level you are in the army, have that self pride – it is not possible to say nobody should drink; but I will say nobody should take drug. Remember that once you drink you don’t know whether the following day you will end up in jail or lose your job as a soldier because once you drink to a point that you cannot control yourself, you are asking for trouble. In those days even if the deputy permanent secretary of Defence sees you drinking and you are reported, the following day you are packing.”
“Era of eye service gone”
The Gambian leader also seized the opportunity to reiterate his stance against the syndrome of eye service, emphasising that the “era of service is long gone”. “Remember that whether the CDS is around or your commander is around or not, God is always and whatever you get is the Almighty Allah’s decision,” he stated, while enjoining the officers to take their responsibilities seriously.
“I don’t think any of these people [promoted officers] ever had a hint that they would be promoted. Do your job and there will be a day when the Almighty Allah will reward you,” the president further stated. He then reminded the officers that they “are sitting on a knife’s edge” warning them that no chances will be taken for granted at this particular moment due to the fact that they are the mirror and everyone is looking up to them. “If you fail to deliver, there will be others who will emulate because they will say the generals are sitting down. You are the role model so you better be a good role model because at this point there will not be a compromise in terms of discipline, dedication to service, and loyalty to your country,” he added.
Commends GAF command
President Jammeh then commended the high command of GAF for also creating the conducive environment for people to excel compared to when they were all in the armed forces. He said: “In those days, in most cases progressive, hardworking people were suppressed if you don’t dance to a particular tune. Here we have an armed forces – a merit based armed forces where everyone knows that promotion is a reward and based on merit.” The Gambian leader then described the piping ceremony as a historic one in view of the fact that this is the first time that a woman has been elevated to the rank of general. However he was quick to stress that promotion in GAF is not based on gender, but on competence. “So anybody can be a Field Marshall, and anyone also can be a permanent private,” he concluded.
Speaking earlier, the minister of Youth and Sports, Sheriff Gomez thanked President Jammeh for rewarding merit, diligence and hard work in the army. While pointing out to the officers that their promotions are meant to reward them, the Youth and Sports minister equally reminded them that such a move also goes with a greater responsibility.
The minister of Fisheries, Water Resources and National Assembly Matters, Lamin Kaba Bajo expressed similar sentiments, while congratulating the newly promoted officers.
The chief of Defence Staff (CDS) of GAF, Lt.Geneal Masanneh Kinteh, underscored that the move is yet another demonstration of commitment the commander-in-chief has for GAF, while equally commending him for the promotion of the first female general.
The CDS noted that these categories of ranks were carefully selected by the president based on the need for systematic growth and transformation of GAF. He further noted that the decorated officers were promoted to fill the vacancies at a senior level based on their job competencies and trust reposed on them by the president. He emphasised that promotion in the armed forces is a rare privilege that is meant to encourage and reward personnel for their hard work, devotion to national duty, loyalty and commitment, thus enjoining the officers to live up to the daunting challenges and obligations.
Meanwhile, during the piping ceremony, Brigadier General Sulayman Badjie was also promoted to the rank of Major General.
Author: by Hatab Fadera