PRESS RELEASE: EXPRESSION OF APPRECIATION AND GRATITUDE
1. The Gambia Armed Forces (GAF) High Command wishes to sincerely thank the public for the overwhelming downpour of moral support extended to GAF following the nomination of the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Lieutenant General Yakuba A Drammeh for the ‘Africa Peace & Security Leader of the Year 2022’ award. According to the African Leadership Magazine, the award is Africa’s premier vote-based endorsement, reserved annually for leading African personalities who contribute positively towards promoting the continent’s progress and positively altering Africa’s perceived negative image. Nominees for this particular award subscribe to high standards of personal accountability in pursuing their vision. The annual event has become a platform for honouring people-centric leadership and Africans pursuing a Pan-African agenda in their chosen fields of endeavour. Therefore, the High Command, on behalf of the CDS and the entire GAF wishes to sincerely thank the management of the African Leadership Magazine for identifying the CDS, Lieutenant General Yakuba A Drammeh for this award.
2. The Africa Peace & Security Leader award is presented to defence and security heads across the continent, with visible strides in protecting lives and properties in their countries. On the basis of this, Lieutenant General Yakuba A Drammeh was nominated for the award with two other distinguished personalities namely Honourable Pravind Kumar Jugnauth, the Prime Minister of Mauritius and Head of Defense as well as General Jean Bosco Kazura, Chief of Defence Staff of the Rwanda Defence Force. At the close of the polls, on Friday 2 December 2022, Lieutenant General Drammeh emerged as the winner with 77.09 per cent of the votes cast in this category while General Kazura had 16.56 per cent as the Runner Up.
3. It is worth mentioning that since the CDS’s assumption of the mantle of leadership of the GAF in March 2020, Lieutenant General Yakuba A Drammeh has instituted a robust communication and public relations strategy, amongst other things, geared towards further rebranding and recasting the image and credibility of the Gambia Armed Forces. With the implementation of this strategy, a lot has been achieved under his leadership despite the unprecedented and challenging impediments occasioned by, but not limited to the COVID – 19 pandemic. He continues to inculcate discipline and professionalism in the military while at the same time cautions members of the Armed Forces to desist from participating in partisan politics. The advent of a new political dispensation during this period brought about high expectations among Gambians for an Armed Force that not only respects fundamental rights and freedoms but is also accountable and subordinate to civil authority and control.
4. With a committed Staff, the CDS first reached out to his colleague Services Chiefs, the National Assembly, the media fraternity, civil society organisations, the diplomatic corps and international development partners, amongst others. The aim was to extend a hand of fellowship as well as explore other areas of cooperation with a view to strengthening already cordial relations. Lieutenant General Drammeh has also instituted several outreach and confidence building measures aimed at winning the hearts and minds of Gambians and non-Gambians alike. Under his distinguished and exemplary leadership, GAF had conducted vigorous sensitization campaigns among its troops to mitigate the risks of transmissions of the COVID – 19 virus among its personnel. In addition, personnel of GAF were mobilized to ensure that transmission of the pandemic in public was reduced through vigorous patrols, contact tracing and quarantine of suspects. Additionally, troops provided humanitarian services, in line with Military Aid to Civil Authority, by helping in the distribution of the government COVID – 19 food packages to needy Gambians. Furthermore, the Armed Forces Engineering Corps was tasked to prepare isolation centres to quarantine persons with suspected cases of COVID -19. It is equally important to state that, General Drammeh launched the GAF Blood Donation Drive in 2020 to encourage GAF personnel to voluntarily donate blood at all major health facilities (hospitals and clinics) across the country as part of celebrations marking ‘World Blood Donor Day’on 12 June each year.
5. Furthermore, during the annual CDS Tour of Military Installations, Lieutenant General Yakuba A Drammeh frankly and constructively engages his troops, the local government authorities, community leaders and representatives of sister Security Services Chiefs on the need to maintain peace and security in the country. He emphasises that there cannot be any meaningful development in a country without peace and security. The tough-talking General bares his heart out by sharing his opinion on the need for all Gambians and humanity at large to desist from inciting tribal sentiments as well as using politics to create division and tension in the country. This, he observed with concern, if it continues unchecked, has the potential to degenerate into a conflict situation. The CDS preached the gospel of peace and security as well as good and cordial neighbourliness while exhorting everyone to be each other’s keeper. It is evident that through the conduct of outreach activities in addition to its various operations, GAF, under the leadership of General Drammeh, was able to win the hearts and minds of many Gambians and non-Gambians. This was clearly manifested in the unprecedented and overwhelming downpour of moral support from each and every one which was translated into massive votes that were cast for the CDS leading to his victory.
6. In view of the foregoing, we wish to express sincere appreciation to His Excellency the President of the Republic of The Gambia and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, President Adama Barrow, his cabinet, the Gambian people and indeed the world at large. It is evident that without your individual and collective votes, this great national and Pan – African achievement would not have been registered. General Drammeh has personally stated that this great achievement is dedicated to all Gambians and non-Gambians alike as the message of peace is the word of God and therefore must be nurtured and spread by all God-fearing and peace-loving people all over the world. Once again, thank you all and God bless.
LAMIN K SANYANG
Director of Press and Public Relations
16 December 2022 The Gambia Armed Forces