WE MEAN BUSINESS MR. PRESIDENT-ELECT ADAMA BARROW
Now the dust is beginning to settle from the biggest political upset of a president the Gambia has ever seen since independence, President-Elect Adama Barrow’s focus should be on building functioning institutions and by doing that, cabinet appointments is KEY. This is what every concerned Gambian both at home and in the diaspora, is waiting for. Like a friend Ebrima Tunkara said on Facebook “now that he [Jammeh] is no more our president, I wonder what will happen to his many titles [His Excellency Sheikh Professor Dr. Alhagie Yahya Abdul Aziz Jamus Junkung Jammeh Babili Mansa Nasiru Deen]”. He further went to the extent of launching an “al wassiyah” locally known as “merrash” campaign and that’s how another friend Samba Bah ended up taking the title “Babili Mansa”. This same thing might be the status of the 2016 coalition (an 8-party government comprising GMC, GPDP, NCP, NRP, PDOIS, PPP, UDP and an Independent Candidate) because the wait is becoming unbearable and Gambians want to hear Adama Barrow talk to them, not through interviews with foreign media houses but rather a medium every Gambian is familiar with (GRTS maybe), with a commanding voice that will preach calm, give assurance and boost the hopes of Gambians both at home and abroad. Who gets to have what as indicated in an MOU ( I doubt it’s serious existence)the electorates never set eyes on and trying to give back “jukal” as to who was there on the campaign trail might be the reason for the delay. Yes, that piece of document (MOU) was yours until we gave you a mandate (3 years into the next election) to lead us as a nation. We bought that document with votes (not just Adama Barrow’s 227,708 votes; but also, Jammeh’s 208,487; Kandeh’s 89,768; and Gambians in the diaspora who couldn’t vote but did a great job in the form of social media campaign, direct calling, and financial support). This we did collectively as a nation and now we NOT only ask but DEMANDING while patiently waiting for what is rightfully ours as citizens of this “yet to be great” nation. We believe we voted in technocrats, not career politicians. In doing this, we expect people of good substance, high caliber visionaries, good listeners, designers and selfless doers to fill in top level positions. Like any Gambian living in the diaspora, I am very optimistic about President-Elect’s leadership but I’m worried too because as much as patience is a virtue; silence is equally a high spirit killer. I’m not saying he should rush and start picking who and what should be in his cabinet. As enormous as the adrenaline rush, we (Gambians) do not mind secreting extra dopamine to balance the reaction. Ha-ha, I’ve already seen “bin bin ak churai” in your cabinet. That melodious “kehseng kehseng” in the middle of the night when the private citizens are far asleep is how we expect the sound of your government to be translated into every Gambian’s ear drum. How that got there hanging in your bedroom is another mystery only our partners (women) in development can explain. LoL JOKES aside. Ok, just like a “cabinet” in someone’s home, the same applies to the cabinet at a state level in case you think you lack the government experience because all your life you worked as an Argos security guard clocking 10–15 hours while you study and then becoming a real estate businessman in The Gambia clocking 12 hours a day. This is another level Mr. President-Elect. You don’t get to have work allocated hours. You work as the clock “ticks and tacks” because our problems as Gambians is collective and endless. We survived 50 years of hardship in which we had two mediocre presidents. Please, don’t make it a 3rd. And as we enter a “new Gambia”, we are as hard as a century old rock drowned at sea (Please allow me to say 100 years, the math is 50x2 because we suffered too damn much). We can’t wait to come afloat to grasp that awesome fresh air mix of “Democracy and Development” as promised in your campaign for the wait was too long. Shall I continue? No, but I rather see this as a security briefing to a President-Elect.
Please don’t just take Dr. Isatou Touray’s campaign broom and sweep this process under the rug. That broom was meant to sweep Sheikh Professor Dr. Alhagie Yahya Abdul Aziz Jamus Junkung Jammeh Babili Mansa Nasiru Deen out. Now that he is out, go back to the basics. Learn processes. Embrace change. And most importantly ask for help. The head of the executive gets to pick the people he/she is comfortable working with but mind you, he doesn’t get to over design/appoint to the point of not having enough room to function efficiently and effectively in the name of giving back gratitude (“jukal”) to those who blew his trumpet the loudest while he was on the campaign trail. Therefore, as I write from my comfortable Atlanta apartment, “si suma cabinet manit”, I am very sorry to break the news, to the members of the Coalition 2016, there is no deceased. The Gambia is sound and alive and looking on to you to deliver her from evil. Just like there will never be a deceased Gambia, there is no “merrash” and there will never be. What we demand of President-Elect Barrow is, to design, build, structure, and demolish a lot of the work (bad ones) done by the PPP and APRC governments not just filling the existing cabinet positions which shall become vacant in few weeks. I’m not saying all the previous work done by the former governments should go down the badly maintained Banjul gutters. What am saying is, he should be very careful in setting up his cabinet because this is where important matters shall be discussed and if he wants to make his mark in the good books of our history, cabinet design should be his #1 priority.
The outgoing president did a very good job in creating an atmosphere where his cabinet of ministers worked unanimously. But this was in a different context. His was a one-man show and opposing his ideas were blasphemous and can lead to termination and if unlucky, an arrest by rogue members of our security forces. As a former cabinet minister would say of Jammeh’s famous cabinet mantra “I don’t talk you talk; I talk you listen.” The questions I ask myself daily flows like this. Was it structure? Lack of common sense or higher education? Is ethnicity blindfolding him? Lacking Political will? Or is just a mere form of dictatorship whereas even road construction projects are supervised by the president, which made his former minister of works and construction Bala Garba Jahumpa aka “Action Man” appointment obsolete.
All this was made possible because our law allowed our president to appointing his cabinet instead of just nominating and let the parliament do the grilling to finish the job. Firing and cabinet reshuffle was very much rampant that no meaningful work could be done in recent years. How many of us can name ministers? First, we tried but as we tend to see more of this, we lost interest in what goes in and out of Jammeh’s cabinet.
Fellow Gambians, I would like to suggest to you that, we work towards making laws that will give our parliament the power to work with the head of the executive when it comes to hiring the people that serve in our president’s cabinet. Let him have the power to just nominate and give clearance for his cabinet picks while The House of National Assembly reserves the right to approve his pick for proper vetting.
Mal-functioning institutions didn’t start with the AFPRC/APRC, the PPP (a party which is part of the 2016 Coalition whose present leader is Omar Jallow commonly known as OJ) did a very nasty job in creating jobs with meaning. Duplication of government offices played a very big role to what landed us to lose our financial sovereignty which jeopardized our independence as a nation. This is no joke. Hard cash was wasted. Monies that could have been invested to create jobs elsewhere in the economy. PPP ministers were hiring up to three secretaries. One for coffee, another for typing letters and the last for just keeping the minister company. No wonder one of the conditions that SAP laid was, reducing the size of the civil service and in that, it means cutting off jobs that were duplicated which led to some people losing jobs.
You remember the SAP? Most if not all of Gambia’s millennials don’t know what it is. To make it short, this came into existence between 1980–1994. These policies launched by the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, International Financial Institution HIGHLY focused on macroeconomics financing with indicators such as export, the ratio of investment to GDP, or the rate of inflation determining its success and its failures, on the other hand, are attributed to “lack of political will”. As David Cooke and Arnold Hughes wrote: “The Gambia’s SAP rescue the economy from bankruptcy, achieved significant microeconomic reform and avoid widespread deterioration in living standards” … They further went ahead to say “recent events in The Gambia have cruelly exposed the limits of structural adjustment in small states with low administrative capacity.” It seems like we don’t learn.
TO BE CONTINUED. . .