By D. A. Jawo
When I made some analyses of the last presidential elections and I alluded to the undeniable fact that some non-Gambians and others not qualified to vote in this country were registered and indeed mobilized to vote in the elections, I was subjected to a barrage of insults and invectives, mostly by militants and supporters of the National People’s Party (NPP).
However, a video currently making the rounds on social media about a Senegalese national assembly member from the Casamance region confirming that a majority of the people from his commune have been issued with Gambian national documents, is enough prove that non-Gambians have indeed been mobilized to participate in our national elections. It is also quite obvious that most of the mobilization was done by selfish politicians whose main objective had been to inflate the numbers of their electorates, regardless of the negative consequences such an unpatriotic practice could cause.
I just did not make up such allegations without any shred of evidence as some of the critics had alluded to. There is documentary evidence that some non-Gambians were registered to vote in this country. For instance, at one of the voter registration centres in Niamina West, Choya Village, to be precise, one Mamadou Lamine Diallo (registered as Momodou Jallow), the Chef de Village (Alkalo) of the village of Leyba, across the border in Region de Kolda, was among several people who were on the queue to obtain a voter’s card during the last general registration prior to the presidential elections and he was indeed issued with one. While I am not sure whether he actually voted, but it is quite obvious that many other non-Gambians did.
It is alleged that there was massive mobilization of people across the border, particularly in the Kabada area, and indeed many other villages across the border, where several people were issued with Gambian documents to enable them to vote in our elections.
This disclosure by the Senegalese MP is indeed an indictment of the present system of the lackadaisical manner that our national documents are being managed. In fact, he categorically stated that it is quite easy to obtain Gambian documents, which is quite true. The very fact that one of the requirements to obtain our documents is just an attestation from the village alkalo and district seyfo, knowing that most of those people are mere puppets of the executive, who would do anything requested from them by President Barrow and his cabal, makes our national documents quite insecure. Therefore, as long as that practice persists, our national documents will continue to fall into the wrong hands, either for political expediency or for financial gains.
While everyone knew that during the Yahya Jammeh regime, such practice of registering non-Gambians across the border, particularly in the Casamance, was very rampant and done virtually quite openly, but everyone had assumed that with the change of regime, such a practice was going to stop. However, just as the Jammeh enablers are making it back in government in a very big way, it should not therefore be a surprise that such unpatriotic self-perpetuating practices are continuing in this country.Of course, it was not a surprise to hear the Director General of the Gambia Immigration Department, Seedy Touray on West Coast Radio denying that his department had issued any ID cards to non-Gambians across the border. However, I think he should have been magnanimous enough to accept the obvious. It may be against the policy of the department to issue ID cards or any other document to those who are not qualified to get them, but the obvious fact is that there are recalcitrant officers in the department who would not only do anything for money, but they are also susceptible to manipulation by some of the self-serving politicians to do their bidding.
Therefore, denying the obvious will not make it go away, and the only solution is for those in charge of our national documents to devise better methods of jealously guarding our documents and ensuring that they do not fell into wrong hands. One way of doing that would be for those institutions responsible for the issuance of such documents like the Gambia Immigration Department and the Independent Electoral Commission not to allow themselves to be manipulated by self-serving politicians whose sole objective is to perpetuate themselves in office with no regard for the negative consequences to the nation.