Alagi Yorro Jallow
Mamudu: President Adama Barrow’s second term incoming top-level appointments and key strategic senior staff and cabinet ministers appointments must not bring favoritism, cronyism, nepotism, political patronage, and civil service and public service appointments partisan loyalty after winning elections. Moreover, it will not help President Barrow’s administration if he begins to fill leadership positions based on political, ethnic, religious, and regional considerations.President Adama Barrow instead should, by all necessary, appoint competent and Loyalist-based Cabinet Ministers based on merit to restore integrity and competence to the Government after his reelection, which is both compelling and indispensable for our nation. In addition, the new Cabinet Ministers and Special advisers must lead Gambians out of the corruption and chaos of the prevailing divisive and toxic politics and the high level of ethnic and elite cultural hegemonic political fragmentation.Mamudu: President Adama Barrow has run the most brass pugnacious and tumultuous administration. In his second term in office, he should eviscerate his Government and the Gambia, appoint and hold honest and competent career civil servants in his Government, and fill vacant vital positions with loyal and skilled people. Furthermore, he should drastically and urgently purge all perfidious, moles, saboteurs, traitorous, faithless, and treacherous officials in both the civil and public service and get rid of those who have infiltrated his Government since 2017. There is neglect and subsisting prejudices against his administration. Still, if not purging them is not a prioritized issue of moles in his administration, it is unconquerable and an insurmountable problem to dislocate saboteurs and insiders in Government. Since his election five years ago, the mole’s issue has been over President Barrow’s Government. It has escalated to a proportion for him to be free from them since Barrow is held hostage by them.It is time to purge all moles, faithless, treacherous people and appoint competent, loyal and patriotic citizens in the Cabinet and other branches of government and Government agencies. However, unfortunately, president Barrow should not value only blind obedience in his appointees, no matter how competent and corrupt they are. His practice of installing Cabinet Ministers and Special Advisers who are openly hostile to his development agenda and their agency’s mission takes its toll on the country moving forward. Mamudu: President Adama Barrow should not put a square peg in a round hole; instead, he should put round pegs in round holes by looking for men and women who are competent, loyal, and patriotic to fill leadership positions without religion, ethnicity, and other factors which have contributed to the failures of many administrations in the past. Colonialism or the multi-ethnic nature of The Gambia is not responsible for the Gambia’s loss and risk of sinking but because people who have been running the country in the past did not know how to make public policies and public policymaking under complexity work. Therefore, there is a need for those appointed to top government positions and politics to understand how to make good policies and make the policies work with technical competence in economic policymaking. However, the long and malevolent dictatorship rule of Yahya Jammeh had reduced the country’s intelligentsia. It made many people imbibe the culture of corruption, lack of concern for meritocracy, and persistence of bad governance due to political constraints of incompetent politicians and technocrats busy doing nothing and implementing inefficient policies.Mamudu: As chaos and endemic public sector corruption continue to careen out of control in the Gambia, thought of the emergent and progressively worsening problems fill me with deep existential anxieties about the Gambia, particularly for the next generation of Gambians.The first is the increasingly unusual, corruption-ridden path to getting government jobs in the country. It is now almost impossible to get any government job without paying for it. It is becoming the norm to pay hundreds of thousands and, in many cases, colossal bribery to government officials before people get employed in government ministries and government agencies. The more “lucrative” a government ministry or parastatal is, the heftier the bribe is required to get employment in it. This culture has permeated political appointments. Even ministerial appointments are now literally auctioned off to the highest bidder.Suppose people must pay money as a precondition to be employed or appointed into political positions. In that case, they are invited to a corruption bazaar. However, first, they will have to raid and pillage the national treasury to recoup their “investment.” That explains why corruption is getting bolder and more audacious these past five years than it has ever been.Of course, there has always been this sort of corruption, but I do not recall ever being this mainstream. It is now a routine displacement for people to get government jobs through a transparent, merit-driven process. I am filled with dread for the children of poor people if this culture is not stamped out.American Tokenism.Mamudu: Some President Advisers and some of the aides who lived and studied in America may be bound to have positive and negative effects. One negative impact is that he learned a thing or two about the philosophy of tokenist diversity in that country.Suppose you complain too loudly in America that the picture is too white in a particular office. In that case, they find one black or Asian, or Latino employee to mix things up and keep you quiet. Diversity accomplished.Whenever President Barrow parsimoniously makes appointments he does not want to make, I think the President prefers sole administratorship – he works from the American script of tokenist diversity and throws in one name selected by ballot from below the Niger drowns in a sea of upper Niger appointments.No problem. However, a few points must be made for the record so that it shall not be said that those who want him to succeed kept quiet while he is digging needless graves for himself:Tokenist diversity may quieten the storm in America, where President Barrow studied and applied the script; in The Gambia, it sets a fire and pours petrol into it. It causes disaffection. It makes governance difficult or impossible. It causes endless distractions from more urgent issues.More urgent issues like corruption are what we mainly hired President Barrow to do. Fight corruption and restore integrity to our system: the primary job description we gave you, President Barrow. Everything else is secondary. You cannot do that if you make every appointment with NPP/APRC-led coalition and close allies.Mamudu: As is, the Gambia is one of the most unfair and unjust countries on the face of the earth. To fight corruption, you have to work very hard to increase the feeling of fairness and begin to return to the polity. How are you going to increase the fortunes of fair and just in the Gambia when even your most ardent supporters will have to assume that other Gambians are stupid to be able to defend, justify or rationalize these new appointments?President Barrow, you need a national consensus and goodwill to fight corruption. It is difficult enough: the wailing wailers, some opposition elements, and enemies of progress have become veritable obstacles to the anti-corruption war. The distraction that the enemies of the anti-corruption war are causing is massive. Moreover, some support anti-corruption so long as it does not touch those who have turned into saints in the Gambia. We need to work on those psychologies and convince them that anti-corruption must not have exceptions. How can we do all these when lopsided appointments are in place – the easiest way to “heat the polity” in The Gambia!How do you create a critical mass of support for the anti-corruption war when you continually deliberately worsen your perception problems and arm the enemies of the anti-corruption war with the infuriating ethnic and political lopsidedness of your appointments? President Barrow, why is it that every time your supporters and those genuinely investing our souls in this anti-corruption war want to go to town with your efforts, you take a Kalashnikov, aim it at your head, and open fire?President Barrow, why do you always take a petrol shower whenever your enemies are ready with matches?Mamudu: Here is how it goes, President Barrow. I am all for merit, and I dream of a Nigeria where it would be all that matters. We shall get there, and one leader must be bold enough to set us on that course. I think you could still be that leader, but there are foundation stones you are ignoring.Come with me: I am realistic enough to understand that we will have to take baby steps and careful steps towards the Gambia of the future. That the Gambia where quota shall be a thing of the past; all 18 Cabinet Ministers can come from NPP/APRC led coalition loyalists. It would not matter, so long as they are competent and meritorious.However, President Barrow must understand that the Gambia’s building blocks involve a great deal of national healing, trust-building, confidence-building, atonement, appeasement, and addressing unaddressed grievances silenced tragedies of our past. These things need to be done methodically and painstakingly so that everybody will come to have a patriotic stake in Project Gambia.You cannot frog march the Gambia to this destination overnight by making all your appointments from NPP/APRC-led coalition loyalists and supporters. The enabling psychological atmosphere of confidence in the Gambia – built on a system that most of our people see, feel, and agree is just and fair – must be put in place first.Mamudu: For now, you must do things, bearing in mind that we need our first eleven appointments. There is no ethnic nationality, no geopolitical region without competent and meritorious first elevens. For the sake of the anti-corruption war and to avoid the distraction we do not need, stop this lopsidedness in what is left of your appointments and try to create a sense of fairness, justice, and balance by looking at the first elevens beyond party and politics. There is no conceivable excuse for the Vice President of the Gambia Government to have come from the women elites; there are some things that some of us who support you will not allow you to do to yourself, to do to the Gambia. At all costs, President Barrow and his new Cabinet should restore integrity and competence, be comprehensive, uncompromising, and show a profound understanding of how the Government works and what is needed to fix it. His administration should also end the revolving door between Government and lobbying, aggressively enforce conflict-of-interest rules, and resuscitate the civil service workforce.As a citizen, we urge President Barrow to show commitment to weeding out corruption and incompetence in his Government since he and his Ministers took an oath to “support and defend the Constitution” and took pride in becoming public servants, understanding that their job description is meant working for the people.Mamudu: President Barrow, not even you, has the right to put unnecessary and unwanted problems on the path of the anti-corruption war that is now in motion; lopsided appointments can derail the anti-corruption war faster than the opposition and the wailing wailers and the hostile social media opposition by poisoning the national environment with perception issues. This is about the Gambia.