By: Kebba AF Touray
The Gambian President, Adama Barrow, has yesterday, 28th March 2019, presided of the swearing in of four Cabinet members and four Permanent Secretaries, at a ceremony held at the State House.
The newly sworn in Government Officials are Dr. Isatou Touray as the Vice President, Fatou Kinteh, Minister for Women’s Affairs, Children and Social Welfare, Lamin Jobe Minister of Trade,Industry, Regional Integration and Emplyment, Amie Fabureh Minister of Agriculture and Dr. Ahmadou Lamin Samateh Minister of Health.
The four Permanent Secretaries that were sworn in are Saikou Kawusu Gassama Permanent Secretary Office of the President, Salimatou Touray First Permanent Secretary Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Sulayman Omar Njie, Second Permanent Secretary Of the Foreign Affairs Ministry and Mod MK Secka Permanent Secretary Ministry of Finance.
All the newly sworn in appointees have taken the oath of allegiance, due execution of their respective functions and secrecy, to perform their duties without fear or favour, affection or ill-will according to the constitution and other laws of The Gambia.
The President in his statement, informed the appointees that their identification and appointments, reflect the trust and confidence, they have in them as respectable and dependable patriots of the country, but not based on any personal or special relationship, but on relevant and specific criteria devised in The Gambia’s best interest.
“Generally, democracy is associated with multiparty politics, elections, choice and other indicators, but holding a Cabinet portfolio or the post of Permanent Secretary does not mean thinking and working exclusively along political lines”, said President Barrow.
He stated that the duties and responsibilities associated with their offices, oblige them to remember that they are heads of government ministries and technical experts respectively, operating within a civil service structure. As such, public service rules, regulations, principles and procedures should guide the discharge of their functions, while stressing that their positions also require them to suppress their personal wishes and ambitions, and put more weight on the Government’s agenda, as this reflects the will, hopes and aspirations of the people you are meant to serve.
“I must stress that being a Cabinet Minister or Permanent Secretary goes with expectations set by the people themselves, and they look forward to their fulfillment. This means that the greater good has to prevail over our personal, ethnic, religious, political or sectional interests”, said Barrow.
He added, “It goes without doubt that at the core of government leadership is Cabinet. Cabinet represents and portrays the nation as a family. As a result, political differences must not corrupt, undermine or divide those of us privileged with Cabinet assignments”.
Government officials are “to collectively, symbolise unity, and must not instigate division. Instead, they should be a source of inspiration to unite the citizens, and work together as one nation”, he maintained.
“As Permanent Secretaries, you are the life line of the Civil Service. The professionalism and commitment you manifest in the conduct of your duty will determine how successful our reform programme will be”, Barrow asserted.
He further asserted that, it is obvious that all citizens are entitled to their views and ambitions, including the desire to lead; however, good citizenship is not all about leadership, nor is it about having one’s way all the time.
“Good citizenship embodies uniting and working collectively towards a common destiny; a destiny marked by success, development, peace, stability and happiness for all”, President Barrow emphasized.
He described belonging to a group, yet openly or secretly opposing its ideals, objectives, values, agenda and what it stands for as a betrayal of trust.
“In other words, one cannot operate in Cabinet, or within a government system, and seek to undermine it in order to pursue any other interest”, he reiterated.
“The best citizens in a nation are the genuine patriots who serve selflessly and put the nation and the greater good before any selfish interest. Such good citizens are not moved by greed or any undesirable pursuit. Therefore, good and patriotic citizenship is measured by one’s loyalty to the people, loyalty to the State and loyalty to the leadership of the day, noting that the leadership carries the peoples mandate, hopes and aspirations”, stressed Barrow.
He cited that The Gambians’ shared values are not limited to loving, caring and sharing only. But also include honesty, sincerity and developing a sense of belonging to a community composed of diverse groups.
“Those of us in Government should live by these values, and refrain from seeking to divide the nation along partisan lines. When political gains and political beliefs or ambitions come first, we will divide the people along party affiliation, ethnicity or other social divides. This is unacceptable. Cabinet members and those in Government should be apolitical as regards the welfare of the people who have mandated them to run their affairs. We must not send mixed or conflicting messages to the public. On the contrary, we must be seen as a united body, pursuing the same goals and speaking with one voice so that the public can follow suit. To put it bluntly, we must be truly honourable and exemplary in character”, said Barrow.
President Barrow averred that the National Development Plan (2018-2021) highlights the enormous national tasks at hand. Given that the nation is bigger than any individual citizen, for all public servants and patriotic citizens, national challenges and priorities must come first.
“Let us strive to serve the people well, to unite them for national development and attend to their welfare in their best interest. Let us remember that in serving the people, we are serving God, the Almighty”, Barrow urged.
He said “as leaders, we ought to be considerate and compassionate, but we must be realistic and firm in ensuring that justice is done in the interest of the nation. It is this principle that has given rise to the Cabinet reshuffle resulting in the new appointments that have just been confirmed”.
“The lesson is that, sometimes, difficult decisions have to be taken to set things right. This is necessary occasionally to establish order in our governance system” President Barrow concluded.