Gambia: Editorial: Does Cabinet Ministers Have The Right To Decide Who Should Work In Their Ministries?

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The Agriculture Minister Omar Amadou Jallow is on record for having said that he cannot work with the newly appointed Permanent Secretary Ousman Jammeh. Minister Jallow said that it was for the sake of continuity and consolidation of programs that he recommended Assan Jallow, who he said has been working with the ministry since 1994, the Point Newspaper reported. He said that the newly appointed PS Jammeh had worked under Assan Jallow who was a graduate when Jammeh did not go to the university, the paper added.

“I have nothing personal against Ousman Jammeh, but as I said, I need continuity. Assan Jallow worked in various positions at the ministry up to the level of PS and he was graduated well before Jammeh,” O.J. added.

Ousman Jammeh was appointed PS number one at the Agric Ministry, by the Secretary General and Head of the Civil Service, following consistent consultation between the Personnel Management Office (PMO) and the Public Service Commission (PSC). He was hired to replace Sait Drammeh, whose contract with the Gambia government has expired.

“Minister Jallow is someone that I have not worked with but I have respect for him so much. However, I am confused by his decision of saying that he cannot work with me,” Ousman Jammeh remarked.

Now the million-dollar question is: Does Ministers in Barrow’s government have the powers to override an appointment made by the SG in consultation with the PMO and PSC?  We do not think so.

Ministers are hired by the president. Such appointments constitute what we called “political appointments.” They have no business in the day to day running of the Civil Service besides ensuring that work is not delayed because of bureaucratic red tape.

There is a Civil Service Regulation, which governs the conduct of Civil Servants. The last time we checked, Ministers are not hired by the Secretary General. Therefore, in the interest of good governance, and accountability, Ministers shouldn’t meddle into the issue of hiring and firing of Civil Servants. That’s outside their job description purview.

If Ministers are allowed to determine who should work or not work in their respective ministries; this might open the floodgates for possible abuse of office, nepotism, and discrimination. We are not living in a dictatorship!

Under our Civil Service Regulation, and the constitution, which is the supreme law of the land, cabinet appointees (Ministers) do not determine the operations of the Civil Service machinery.

The Civil Service provides manpower to government ministries and the Agriculture ministry is not an exception. We should draw a fine line here: The Minister is the head of the Ministry, he has been assigned to oversee, but that doesn’t give him the powers to decide who should be hired, redeployed or fired. Ministers should avoid encroaching into the territory of the PMO and the PSC.

President Adama Barrow has a responsibility to restore decorum into his government. There should be a proper chain of command; complimented by set rules and regulations in any governance system. If Ministers are allowed to treat their ministries as their personal property or domestic home; then this country risked being returned to dictatorial rule.

OJ’s claims that Mr. Jallow has a university degree unlike his “new boss” Ousman Jammeh, is worrisome. OJ himself doesn’t have a degree; president Barrow as well.

Therefore, if the said rules were to be applied; then both OJ and Barrow will not be qualified to govern us. There are more qualified Gambians to occupy the post of president and Agriculture Minister; and yet Gambians never complained that OJ shouldn’t head the Ministry of agriculture.

We are not trying to downgrade qualifications by any means, but there should be respect for authority in this new Gambia. Our system is far from being perfect; it should be the business of all Gambians to work towards its perfection. Get that!

A point of observation: OJ, is not the only Minister complicit in this systematic monopoly of ministries. First, it was Ousainou Darboe, the Foreign Minister, who flooded his ministry with his UDP supporters. He recommended dozens of his party’s supporters to the SG for foreign service positions. This was dead wrong.

We hope ministers will recognize the fact that we can only have one president at a time. Politicization of our Civil Service should be stopped. Let allow qualified and competent professionals to run our ministries.

It is not the business of ministers to recommend anyone for employment. Jobs should be advertised. The PMO and the PSC should determine who should be appointed and not the Minister. We rest our case.

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