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New SG sworn in, military officers decorated

May 13, 2011, 2:18 PM | Article By: Lamin B. Darboe

President Yahya Jammeh Wednesday presided over the swearing in of Ousman Jammeh, the newly-appointed Secretary General and Head of the Civil Service.

Secretary General Jammeh, who took the oaths of office, secrecy and allegiance, was Tuesday appointed Secretary General, a position he previously held, replacing Ebrima O. Camara, who was deployed to the Gambian embassy in Belgium as deputy head of mission.

Speaking at the swearing in ceremony, President Jammeh thanked Ousman Jammeh for accepting what he said was yet another daunting challenge, noting that the position of the Secretary General is the engine of the Government.

“The position of Secretary General needs somebody who is approachable, because we want to make the civil service as convenient as possible,” he said, adding that there will be a vigorous training for civil servants who have very good track records. 

According to him, the Office of the Secretary General is a very important office – it is the nerve centre of the government.

“If it is a vessel, it is the engine room and, God forbid, if everything goes wrong there, the whole entire government machinery will come a halt,” he said, adding further that the wealth of experience of the new Secretary General in many sectors serves as an added advantage to his work.

While underscoring the need for training in the civil service, President Jammeh said that his government will focus more on training.

“Yes, you are training thousands of people outside the system, why not also thousands of people in the system? And so the training from now will focus on the people within the system, who have a track record because they say, ‘a bird in hand is worth two in the bush’.

“So in as much as we want to train young Gambians to any level outside of the system, we want to make sure that we give priority to those whose performance we already know,” he said.

Speaking shortly after taking the oaths, Secretary General Jammeh thanked President Jammeh for his trust and confidence in re-appointing him to what he called a very tough and challenging position.

While promising to do his utmost with sincerity, honesty, dedication and loyalty to the President, the Government of the Gambia and its people, the new Secretary General solicited the support of the cabinet and the civil service in general, knowing fully well that their success as a Government lies in their collective efforts based on team work.

Meanwhile, in a separate but related development, President Jammeh, who is also the commander-in-chief of the Gambia armed forces on the same day presided over the decoration and swearing in of the Gambia’s first female Brigadier General and another senior military officer at State House.

The decoration of Ramatoulie DK Sanneh, elevated from the rank of Colonel to Brigadier General, and Ousman Gomez, from Lt. Colonel to Colonel, comes barely six weeks after the decoration of six other officers.

Speaking at the ceremony, President Jammeh said promotion for armed forces members is not based on gender, but on merit, adding that the era of eye service is now a thing of the past within the forces.

While urging the newly-promoted officers to be good role models, the Gambian leader reiterated his zero tolerance policy on drug trafficking and corruption, especially in the army, noting that they will not be tolerated in whatever form.

“If you choose to be drug traffickers, leave the army because at GAF we will not compromise on drug trafficking in the country much more within GAF circles,” he warned.

According to him, begging by members of GAF should be discouraged within the system. “Be content with what the Almighty Allah gives you,” he said.

He added: “Anybody arrested with drugs or found smoking drugs must leave the army. There is no compromise, and it is not only to dismiss him and let him go; if you cannot court martial him, dismiss him and hand him over to the NDEA to be prosecuted. So you have a choice; if you chose to sell drugs, leave the army; if you chose to use drugs, leave the army. For drugs, even if you are caught with one gram, you are going home.”

The chief of defense staff Lt. General Masanneh Kinteh said this was the first time they have witnessed the decoration of a female officer to the rank of Brigadier General in the person of Ramatoulie DK Sanneh.

According to him, the promotion of Brigadier General Ramatoulie DK Sanneh would serve as a source of inspiration for the young women already serving in the armed forces, and for the young ones outside.

CDS Kinteh thanked President Jammeh on behalf of all the service chiefs, officers, men and women of the entire armed forces for not only making the promotions, but also taking time of his busy schedule to preside at the decoration and swearing in ceremony for the newly-promoted officers.

“These categories of ranks were carefully selected by President Jammeh based on the need for the systematic growth and transformation of the Gambia armed forces,” Lt. Gen. Kinteh said.  

Speaking earlier, Brigadier General Ramatoulie DK Sanneh commended President Jammeh for his foresight and visionary leadership.

Other speaker at the ceremony included the ministers of Youth and Sports, Fisheries, Water Resources and National Assembly Matters, Sheriff Gomez and Lamin Kaba Bajo respectively, who called on the newly promoted officers to live up to expectations.