By Mustapha Ceesay
“Mr President, Gambian Youths deserve better than this.
Latest developments coming from the seat of power in Banjul have it that the president has appointed Mr Musa Susso as his Youth Adviser. The point newspaper report stated that Musa served the Gambian military for five years then became a member of parliament for 5 years as well as a deputy governor for 2 years.
But what the report failed to say is that Musa had been convicted twice on felony charges and served at least a number of years in mile II prison twice.
I cannot fully remember the details of the last conviction in 2009/2010 but the first one was on DRUG SMUGGLING and POSSESSION amongst others along with one Ndeneh Fall while he was serving as the MP for Kombo North. The second one has something to do with giving false information etc. Even if we want to treat his second conviction as political, the first one was a very serious case especially for a sitting MP.
Proper criminal background checks are very important and it is a common procedure for most positions of trust and influence all over the world. Appointments to positions like this and close to the seat of power should be very well vetted in my view. If you cannot be appointed in our security and law enforcement as a felon, I don’t know how you can be in the office of the president of the republic.
As a Criminal Justice professional and a law enforcement officials, I am cognizant of the need and importance of rehabilitating and reintegrating convicts into society to become meaningfully engaged to minimize recidivism. But where do we draw the line?
In a country like ours with such a youthful population with scarce resources and employment opportunities, youths need better examples than Musa. Actions have meanings and such an appointment is no exception.
This may translate that it is okay to be a criminal and even be convicted. In fact, it pays with Musa as an example. It means you can be convicted twice on felony, serve both jail terms and yet be appointed by the president as his special adviser. This is the message. How do we tell our youths to be law abiding and discourage them from crimes when they have an ex convict as the president’s special youth adviser?
If Musa had extraordinarily excelled after his sentence and show out of merit exemplary achievements, then he could have been seen as a role model that coming in contact with the law should not stop one from rehabilitating and excelling. But no. All his appointments including this latest one are political. That means, no matter what crimes you commit, as long as politicians see you as an asset for their political interest, you can be appointed to any position even to become a president’s special adviser. This is wrong!!
The Gambian youths have suffered so much for so long. They have been failed by both our former presidents. Sir Dawda didn’t do much to make our youths creative and self-reliant and Jammeh abused and exiled them. This is why they embark on these risky journeys with a lot losing their lives in the wild desserts and seas with thousands still unproductive in camps across Europe. This was why during your campaign, the youths invested so much in you with very high expectations for a meaningful change. This first year is not the least impressive Mr president.
You will not see these anywhere in the world except in Barrow and Jammeh’s Gambia where appointments to positions close to the seat of power are based on political and personal connections. This is sad!!
Even if for nothing, we expect that you would have appointed some young entrepreneurs or high achievers in other fields who would inspire the youthful ambitions in our young and serve as role models not just try to go the extra mile to gain recognition through political opportunism.
Remember that we still have the greater chunk of our youths wasted in asylum camps in Europe with many in slave markets in Libya and other places. As they contemplate the prospects at home and available opportunities for them in their return, such appointments are nothing to show them.”