Barrow’s new appointments: ‘Putting the right persons in the right places’

Monday, January 30, 2017

President Barrow has disclosed that he will announce his cabinet today or tomorrow.

In relation to this development, we deem it necessary to highlight an article entitled: ‘Challenges Facing the New Political Dispensation’ written by Burang Goree-Ndiaye, an Assistant Professor at the University of The Gambia, advising the president to put the right persons in the right places.

For the good of our readers and the nation, we republish verbatim excerpts of the article as a guest editorial:

Putting the right persons in the right places

It should be recalled that President Barrow has said he had constituted a ‘Think-Tank’ to identify the most suitable individuals to fill key positions in his government, and to formulate a realistic socio-economic development blueprint for the next three years. Who are these ‘thinkers’? The Gambian people need to know who they are to judge if they are the most appropriate to undertake these crucial tasks. The country is not short of ‘thinkers’ with brilliant ideas, it’s a question of looking for them and bringing them onboard.

In his quest to bring onboard ‘the brightest and the best’ and to have the ‘best person for the job’, a roster of Gambians with the requisite academic credentials and expertise must be compiled and a shortlist of potential candidates for the respective positions made, who would then be invited for talks regarding their willingness to serve their nation in that capacity during the transition period. There are a lot of highly-educated, experienced, competent and capable Gambians, in and out of the country, who are ready to serve their country in a capacity that is commensurate with their expertise, if called upon.

The composition of Barrow’s Cabinet and appointments to ambassadorial and top positions will be a test case. Apart from choosing the most competent, people will be watching keenly to see if his choices will be representative of and in proportion to the ethnic, religious and gender mix of the country. Eyebrows will be raised and mistrust will set in if appointments to such positions are disproportionate. If the Cabinet and top appointments are not balanced, fostering cohesion among the populace would be difficult to realize.

It should be underlined that appointments to top positions should be based on merit, not on political affiliation, or the extent to which one was involved in the election campaign, or how close to or supportive one was of the President during this period. If we take the United States, for example, President Trump’s nominees for cabinet positions are not people who were in the vanguard of his election campaign, but people who are deemed highly-qualified, competent, and capable and with a good track record of success, ready to serve their country in these positions.

Being aspirants to the presidency, I am of the opinion that none of the leaders of the parties that make up the Coalition should hold office in Barrow’s government. Having different political agendas, holding cabinet or key positions in the three-year transition government would be a conflict of interest. Their primary role should be to provide the oversight necessary for the smooth and orderly transition.

Institutional reforms and good governance

One of the most difficult challenges that President Barrow will have to contend with will be the reforming of government institutions and making them more efficient and accountable....

The leadership in many of our public and quasi-government institutions can be likened to ‘square pegs in round holes’, which has resulted in dysfunctional establishments and a paralyzed government.

“The calibre of legislators we now have are not what the new Gambia should have.”

Burang Goree-Ndiaye