By Yankuba Jallow
The National Assembly member for West Sidia Jatta on Monday told Parliament that Bakary Sanyang, the Governor for West Coast Region must resign from his current position before he can assume office as Ombudsman.
Jatta made this statement after Dr Isatou Touray told Parliament that President Adama Barrow’s new nominee for the position of Ombudsman is still the governor of West Coast Region.
Earlier Dr Touray moved the motion for the lawmakers to consider and confirm the nomination of Mr. Sanyang as the Ombudsman effective 1st April 2020 for a period of five years.
Dr. Touray reminded the National Assembly that the nomination of Mr. Bakary Sanyang as Ombudsman followed an earlier nomination of Mr. Baboucarr Suwareh by the President, which was duly rejected by the legislature.
VP Touray submitted the nomination for appointment of Mr. Sanyang was brought in accordance with sections 164 of the Constitution and section 2 subsection 3 of the Ombudsman Act of 1997.
“Therefore, in coming up with this replacement, due regard has been made to Section 164, Subsection (1) of the Constitution, which stipulates that, “provided that where the National Assembly rejects a person nominated by the President, it shall not again reject the person nominated to replace him.”
She said Section 64 subsection 2 of the Constitution provides that “in making an appointment under this Section, the President shall have regard to the need for persons exercising the functions of Ombudsman to have substantial administrative or professional experience”.
She said Sanyang rose through the ranks of Income Tax Cadre to the position of Commissioner General of the Gambia Revenue Authority, before his exit from the public service in 2012. She told the lawmakers that between this period and 2018, Mr. Sanyang served as Income Tax Consultant under the ECOWAS Commission. She added that he was subsequently appointed on Contract as Governor, West Coast Region in January, 2018, an appointment he is currently holding.
“Mr. Sanyang is, therefore, a person with substantial administrative and professional experience, who is highly expected to effectively execute the functions of the Ombudsman. Hon. Speaker, In tabling this appointment for confirmation, the attention of the august Assembly must also be drawn to Section 2, Subsection (3) of the Ombudsman Act, which stipulates that ‘the appointee shall hold office for a period of five (5) years and shall be eligible for re-appointment; and Section 3, Subsection 1 (a) and (b ), which prescribes the functions of the Ombudsman’, she submitted.
Alagie S. Darboe, the member for Brikama North said Sanyang has 42-years work experience with the Gambia Revenue Authority as an income tax consultant. Darboe added that Sanyang has also worked with the ECOWAS Commission and Governor of West Coast Region.
“I think the person nominated has got the requirement to be the Ombudsman,” Darboe said.
Darboe said: “At the level of West Coast, we will be missing him and we are wishing him good luck in his endeavour.”
Bakary Njie, the member for Bundungka Kunda said after Suwareh’s nomination was rejected by the National Assembly, he was still serving at the Office of the Ombudsman. He said the Executive allowing Suwareh to serve in that office after his nomination was rejected was uninvited in the new Gambia adding that the Executive should have honoured the National Assembly’s decision.
On the nomination of Sanyang, Honourable Njie said it is believed that his appointment will give the Office of the Ombudsman a new face.
“We are hoping that his appointment will be a game changer,” Njie concluded.
The member for Lower Nuimi said Sanyang should know that he has a lot of problems on his desk (at the Office of the Ombudsman) and he should be mindful of the oath he was going to take.
Honourable Saikouba Jarju thanked the Government for doing the right thing for assigning Sanyang at the Office of the Ombudsman. The member for Busumbala described Sanyang as a straightforward man who does things as dictated by laws.
The member for Kombo East also talked about Sanyang’s honesty and dedication to his work. He also thanked the Government for nominating Sanyang.
The member for Lower Badibou said any person who holds public office is not qualified to become an Ombudsman as per section 164.
Honourable Halifa Sallah told his colleagues that their hands are not tied and they should not allow their hands to be tied. The member for Serrrekunda submitted that if they reject the first nomination by the President they cannot reject the second.
He suggested for the matter to be referred to their Select Committee to scrutinize Sanyang’s appointment. He said VP Touray did indicate in his speech that Sanyang is still a serving Governor. Sallah said the Committee must require Sanyang to resign.
“Unless that is done, if we confirm we are complicit; we are aiders and abetters of the violation of the Constitution,” Sallah said.
The whole house supported Sallah’s motion and the matter was referred to the Committee for proper scrutiny and consultation.