The Gambia Ministerial Carousel and Political Power Consolidation
……………. But no Governance, Political & Economic Reform
By now you probably heard Dr. Barrow has reshuffled his cabinet relying on powers vested upon him by section X subsection Y of the Constitution. Great! Isn’t it? That’s what Radio Gambia (now GRTS) tells Gambians. Funny!
Sadly, The Constitution and Laws of The Gambia are only relied upon for ceremonial purposes and/or when it served their political/personal interests. The opposite is TRUE WHEN THE ACTUAL PURPOSE OF CONSTITUTIONALTY AND STEWARDSHIP OF OUR FREEDOMS ARE AT STAKE. This government (I mean Dr. Barrow’s government) have since violated both the letter and spirit of our constitution by deploying ARMED PIU AND/OR ARMY AT KANILAI, SIBANOR AND RECENTLY FARABA BANTA. All those events do not meet The Constitutional Threshold for deployment of armed forces particularly the army. In all those evens Gambians were simply exercising their constitutionally guaranteed right to freely assembly, associate and express grievance. THOSE ACTS WERE NO THREAT TO GOVERNMENT AND/OR NATIONAL SECURITY. Kanilai and Faraba Banta incidents resulted to destruction of innocent lives and we still await justice to come down hard on all those responsible. If history is any measure we have little to no hope justice will see daylight and/or not anytime soon.
In good democracies Constitution and laws restraint government even in war and safeguard liberties/freedoms of persons.
- Why reshuffling his ministers? Of course, he has the right under our laws but we also have right to be curious of his motives
- What did Dr. Barrow hope to accomplish?
- Did Dr. Barrow know or wasn’t he told both of his predecessors have done exact same things multiple times and that gave us where he picked it up?
Ministers are advisors to the president. An advisor should be a person with knowledge, skill and/or experience in an area to make his/her views beneficial. If Amadou Sanneh couldn’t perform in Accounting which is his expertise how on earth can you expect him do good for you in TRADE? He did a terrible job on 2018 Appropriation Bill. By the way we do not even need trade as stand-alone Ministry. This is not picking on Mr. Sanneh, we can make the same analysis for all those moved from one office to the other. At the next cabinet meeting exact same faces will be present in a different chair around the table. And that is partly why it has no added value neither for the government nor the people of The Gambia.
For 22 years we fought for one goal: To Make Gambia A Functioning Institutional Democracy.
From Dr. Barrow’s maiden speech on February 18, 2017 it was clear he has no plans for governance, political and economic reforms.
Dr. Barrow, as a person has 2 significant problems and they directly affect his leadership:
- A political and governance novice. He has no-know-how and rely on someone to say what he says and do what he does. We cannot expect a president to be Jack-Of-All-Trades but on-the-job-training president is very undesirable. A good president has to have a clear vision of the route from point A to B. With that s/he can effectively delegate. Gambia is now in a ship in the middle of an ocean and nobody knows where exactly we will anchor if we will anchor at all.
- The old-guards around him know nothing better than the past. They’re still married to the old colonial approaches and bunkered. They can only see the old, obsolete colonial dictation government works. They know nothing about democracy but only want to use it as smokescreen to prolong their stay in power.
Thus, their best solution to our political and economic problems are to reshuffle personnel from time to time. Even with that as the main strategy, is common sense rotating people into different chairs around the table those change the total make-up people around the table. They’re simply in different chairs.
There is an old saying in English language…….” repeating exact same thing over and over expecting a different outcome is classic definition of insanity”.
The Gambia has IMPERIAL DICTATION GOVERNANCE STRUCTURE. It’s wasn’t meant to be democratic and is not democratic. It was set up to service the queen. It’s by design meant work for and report to the then colonial master and now the president. It was design for such leader to decide what is good for the people and not the people deciding what they deem best for themselves. This is classic definition of dictatorship. Allowing us (citizens) vote in/out one officer and/or another is not sufficient to make it a functioning institutional democracy.
The INDEPENDENT DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF GAMBIA NEED TO TAKE DEMOCRATIC PRINCIPLES, IDEALS AND GAMBIA’S SOCIO-CULTURAL VALUES/NORMS TO BUILD UP A FUNCTIONING INSITUTIONAL DEMOCRACY.
Those who equate power residing with them as democracy cannot effectively lead this effort and will make every effort to deter. Dr. Barrow is one of those and he’s not alone. Those who do not see people own power and governing authority cannot effective lead this effort and will make every effort to stall. Dr. Barrow is one of them and has many in that company.
Dr. Barrow is trying hard to consolidate his grip on political power. He has worked hard to form his version of Yahya-like Youth Group called Barrow Youths for National Development. It’s the climax of absurdity supposed transitional president to be constructing his own youth political action group. He was supposed to be a transitional president and not bunching up kids to sing his praises and/or harass perceived opponents/enemies. Wow! With his aids they killed the terms of references of Coalition 2016. Ousainou Darboe, is on record arrogantly telling Gambians he will challenge the constitutionality of that agreement. Constitutional or not, the outcome of goodwill and wisdom of the signatories to that contract resulted to the freedom Mr. Darboe currently enjoys. He should be thankful and not condescending. Without that supposed unconstitutional agreement, for all we can tell Mr. Darboe would still be serving his sentence in prison. UDP-led faction of The Coalition 2016 refused to contest National Assembly as a singular unit. They claimed to want what they called tactical-alliance. The outcome of that strategy all but rendered Coalition 2016 immaterial and gave UDP upper legislative leverage. They’ve used the National Assembly to lower nomination charges/fees to contest elections. The National Assembly also amended Presidential and Vice-Presidential age ceiling. With the current developments (Ms. Tambanjang booted to the curb) one can only wonder if she was used as a smokescreen to changing that law in order to Mr. Darboe from behind to the vice presidency. Call me cynical but is not beyond human calculus. Do not forget they’ve used the courts now under their control to VACATE GUILTY JUDGEMENT of Mr. Darboe. This freed Mr. Darboe from such criminal record that may bar him from eligibility the Presidency/Vice Presidency. Now he’s Vice President. The path to presidency is currently little more complicated but time will tell who will outplay the other (Barrow & Darboe). I’m no psychologist to interpret the minds of the men and women who perfectly set up all the above in favor of Mr. Darboe but is hard to believe is all coincidental and/or mere luck.
The recent cabinet reshuffling seems to affirmed UDP grip on government. Ousainou Darboe is bump up a step-under Dr. Barrow. Ms. Tambajang, who was never a true soldier of our struggle is discarded to the fringes after supposedly used as a front to amend the constitution. Mai, Henry and OJ are all booted. Not sure how long Amat Bah’s will late. Someone told me he knows how to play the game to hang on. The question remains but how long? The wise PDOIS never joined the exclusive club, probably sensing this is how it always end. History is littered with enough evidence. Yahya got rid of all his fellow coupists. Jawara has over-lived the original PPP cast. PDOIS may or never be driven in luxurious state SUVs but they still have their pride intact. Bravo!
What is the next step of power consolidation? Will Dr. Barrow muster enough political capital to throw out Ousainou Darboe? Or will Ousainou Darboe be able to use the fortified UDP apparatus to down Dr. Barrow? Dr. Barrow can fire Mr. Darboe, discredit him and induce/intimidate other UDP members in an attempt to split UDP or take it away from Ousainou. If Ousainou feels unhappy/threatened he can try using UDP National Assembly majority, although not up to 2/3 majority to cripple Barrow and eventually challenge him at the polls. It’s only a matter of time. Something will have to eventually give. I can’t wait for that battle royal.
Hereunder are Burama’s fix:
The most democratic fix is to decentralize/apportion governance, roles and scope. Please reference my last op-ed for the structure, roles and scopes in some detail. Of course, a constitutional re-do has to precede such a transformational change.
Pruning the currently imperial structure will NEVER make us democratic. We can however make it as efficient and cost effective as possible by reducing and reorganizing the current 19/20 Ministries into 8 or at most 9. Please reference the table below. This will streamline work and structurally reduce overhead cost by almost half.
|Ministries of Gambia Government|
|1||Foreign Affairs||1||Foreign Affairs; Regional Integration|
|2||Trade and Regional Integration||2||Trade; Treasury|
|3||Information, Works & Communication||3||Education; sports development|
|4||Basic Education||4||Health & Humana Services|
|6||Health||6||Natural Resources, Water Resource, Environment & Climate Change; Forestry|
|7||Justice & Attorney General||7||State; interior; lands; defense/national security|
|8||Youth, Sports, Culture & Religion||8||VP & other auxiliary services|
|11||Lands & Regional Governments|
|12||Finance & Economic|
|16||Environment & Climate Change|
|17||Office of VP|
|CURRENT MINISTRIES WE DON’T NEED|
This doesn’t mean government will have nothing to do with the above. The point is simply we do not need them as ministry. For instance, all our work needed can be contracted either through a central office and/or each issuing unit/department, etc. Law and Order and national security is more than enough for our protection needs. A well sized, trained and equipped Police Force suffice this purpose. The rest are unnecessary costs and limiting our freedoms. Gambia is a unique nation and if we recognize that we can do many things in a very creative way with the same result. We need no defense or soldiers. Noticed I proposed Economic Affairs as no ministry. This is because government’s economic program/policy is run in 2-ways: Fiscal and monetary. The fiscal policy is the reflection of appropriation bill. That will explain where, what and how government want the economy to move – expansion and/or contraction. The centers of this processes are shared between the legislature and executive. Thus, is my opinion that Office of The President is/should be the center of our fiscal policies. Monetary policy is housed at Central Bank. The utility of bank’s tools to impact the economy are inform by economic conditions, economic forecasts and policy dictates. Having a whole ministry is duplication and costly for no material purpose.
Join the campaign to not just remove Barrow but make Gambia a Functioning Institutional Democracy.
God Bless Gambia
To The Gambia Ever True