By Abdoulie John
Omar Jallow, leader of the former ruling People’s Progressive Party (PPP) in Gambia, has decried the high frequency of cabinet reshuffle ‘‘engineered by President Yahya Jammeh’’, describing it as a basis for instability.
“I have always been worried and skeptical because without a cohesive and experienced cabinet there is no possibility of us having a guaranteed, democratic and consolidated government,” OJ, as the firebrand politician is well known, told Jollofnews in an exclusive interview.
Mr Jallow’s statement comes amid unconfirmed reports of the sacking of Justice Minister Marie Saine-Firdaus, who recently headed the Gambian delegation to the just concluded 7th session of the United Nations’ Universal Periodic Review, in Geneva, Switzerland, where the county’s human rights situation was under scrutiny. Rumors about Marie’s imminent sacking, which has been linked to her handling of the country’s human right defense at the Geneva meeting, also comes just three weeks after a minor cabinet shake up that saw four ministers dismissed, characteristically without any explanation.
The opposition politician said that this constant reshuffling and rotation within the line ministries is a deliberate ploy aimed at casting blame away from the leadership to ensure its political survival. In other words, sacked ministers are portrayed as responsible for failures, while the leadership gains undeserved sympathy from the masses for supposed vigilance.
But as far as OJ is concerned, if in 15 years you sacked over 120 ministers, ‘‘that is not only bad for the reputation of the country, but it shows bad judgment on the part of the person who is doing these appointments.’’
‘‘Why is it possible that he [Jammeh] only appoints bad people and not good people?” OJ queried. Gambia, he added, deserves to be incorporated in the Guinness Book of Records!
The former Agriculture Minister under the now quiescent PPP, which was ousted by then Lt. Yahya Jammeh, added that these frequent changes in government offices constitute an indication of excessive instability and uncertainty about the president’s management style that has ‘‘failed’’ Gambians.
OJ also argued that it might also be possible that some of the sacked ministers have ‘‘decent opinion’’ that the president might not like. And he stressed that “there can only be sustainable development if people are allowed to operate efficiently, to be free to make their own judgment, decisions and propose their own projects without fear.’’
Each person, Jallow said, is appointed as a minister to run a department of his/her own. And within these departments, he added, ‘‘we are supposed to have well-trained professionals who should act with responsibility.”
President Yahya Jammeh has famously said that he ‘‘will fire until I get the right team in place.”
As a result of the activeness of his so-called electric broom, at every one point in time the president has substantial ministerial portfolios to his name, on top of his presidential and other duties. Critics have constantly questioned his effectiveness under such demanding circumstances. Yahya presently holds the ministerial positions of Defense, Agriculture and Infrastructure.
By Abdoulie John