SUBJECT: Ms. Zainab Jallow PhD – RIGHT OF RESPONSE TO SET THE RECORD STRAIGHT AGAINST A CAMPAIGN OF SLANDER, LIBEL, CHARACTER ASSASSINATION AND INNUENDO
Dear Mr Mbai
I write to counter to the vicious campaign of slander, character assassination and libel being orchestrated against Ms Zainab Jallow, Director General of the Gambia Food Safety and Quality Authority as certain individuals are abusing your media to slander and libel her and from insinuating she was a “darling” of former President Jammeh, to a “protégé” of President Barrow and the latest is a protégé of Vice President Dr Isatou Touray and that must be odd to any discerning person. I must note however my disappointment that Freedom Newspaper which calls itself “fair and balanced” never tried to get the other side of the story in line with the highest principles of journalism and natural justice.
I will start with a disclaimer that I am Pa Musa Jallow and Ms Zainab Jallow is not only my younger sister but I also sponsored her to come to the United States of America after graduating from Gambia High School and she studied in the US, Belgium and Holland up to PhD Level and it is sad but typical in The Gambia that we invest so much energy in pulling each other down, but I will state the other side of the story and let people draw their own conclusions, as this is a public lynching of lies and calumny and the Office of the Vice President and the Board of Directors are undertaking the necessary administrative measures to investigate and establish the truth and act accordingly.
I hasten to add that yes, only bad news tends to make news but The Gambia is far from a failed state and all its institutions are working and there is an Ombudsman Office for civil servants whose rights have been abused as well as the Courts and Ms. Zainab Jallow will launch libel lawsuit against the individuals engaged in this vicious campaign of slander, character assassination and lies in due course.
- Who is Zainab Jallow: She is a Gambian and ECOWAS National and current Director General of the Food Safety and Quality Authority of The Gambia. Her qualifications are:
– AA Associate of Arts Degree in Accounts and Finance (Tallahassee Community College, Florida 1994
– Bachelor of Science in Biology (Florida A&M University, 1998),
– Master of Science in Molecular Biology (Free University of Brussels, 2002)
– PhD in molecular biology (University of Nijmegen, Holland, 2006 and thesis completed in 2008)
Over 20 years of experience in both field and academia include
– as Laboratory Scientist with the then Royal Victoria Hospital in The Gambia, now called the Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital with experience on routine diagnostics of the common diseases in the country, which included HIV, malaria, TB and meningitis.
– As Deputy Director of the National Health Public Laboratory (NPHL) and Coordinator for the TB Program and confirmatory HIV tests. The NPHL was responsible for managing Global Fund funds for the procurement of laboratory test kits for malaria, HIV/AIDS and TB. NHPL was also identified as a food testing lab by the UNIDO -West Africa Quality Program for capacity building towards accreditation.
– Appointed as Technical Manager and trained and certified at the Vimta Labs in Hyderabad India, on food chemical testing and the development of quality and technical manuals.
– Other experience include a research internship experience with the Department of Biological Sciences on the Bioremediation of fuel hydrocarbons during my undergraduate degree in the United States, working at the Malaria Unit of the Medical Research Council (Gambia) on development of the ELISPOT technique to detect malaria antigens in cord blood obtained from placenta and for her PhD her research project involved the identification of the TBP2 complex in Xenopus laevis and its role in transcription regulation during development and she published with her lab in Holland a Scientific Paper on the importance in embryonic development of Xenopus laevis through the use of knock down techniques in vivo (Jallow et al, PNAS 2004).
– She was a Lecturer at the University of The Gambia in 2012 at the Biological Sciences Department lecturing 3rd and 4th year students in Genetics.
– Her strong management competence and experience covers Human Resources, Financial and Strategic Management and she was Head of Corporate and Commercial Units at Access Bank Gambia Ltd and managed 6 different branches and designed and implemented various marketing strategies for resource mobilization, client retention and budget development and implementation. Finally she joined the FSQA as Deputy General in 2013 and became Director General in 2014 and the nascent FSQA grew from 2 to about 70 personnel today and it has gained recognition within the AU and international partners.
- The Gambia Food Safety and Quality Agency
FSQA is a one stop agency for food safety and quality issues in The Gambia and has attracted a lot of interest from other countries in the region and continent, and FSQA is used as a Reference Agency and has been visited by many food safety institutions from Nigeria.
The Authority has been able to successfully solicit funds from the Food and Agriculture Organization, International Trade Center, Standards and Trade Development Facility and the EU since its inception for its operationalization including a public sensitization and awareness campaign.
The Authority is also the AU – PACA (Africa Union Partnership for Aflatoxin Control in Africa) Country’s focal point and had lobbied and became one of five pilot countries chosen to carry out an aflatoxin situational analysis to strengthen the national food control system and set up the Africa Aflatoxin Information Management System (AfricaAIMS) to enhance continent wide access to quality data, monitoring, evaluation and mutual accountability in the management of aflatoxins; Successfully initiated a crosscutting National Aflatoxin Control Action and Investment Plan covering Agriculture, Health and Trade and successfully oversaw the validation of the situation analysis and at the October 2016 PACA Partnership Platform Meeting held in Uganda, Ms. Zainab Jallow was nominated and won the award of the Director General of the Authority in the “Policy & Creation an Enabling Environment” category.
She is the current CODEX Contact Point and Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Manger for The Gambia and in May 2016 was invited by the INFOSAN Secretariat to join the INFOSAN Advisory Group.
- Challenges and Pitfalls
FSQA mandate is very wide and challenges powerful interests as it covers all food and beverage related imports and exports and especially in insisting and ensuring that all food meet minimum safety and quality standards and that affects over US$500 million worth of imports and exports a year. As such the DG continues to face intimidation, attempts at coercion and even occasional attempts to bribe her and nonstop reports since 2014 but continues to do her job professionally without fear or favour, affection or ill will and yes, she had been arrested before, threatened by NIA and even soldiers but has not lost one case she has taken to court, or agency she has closed because of failure to adhere to food safety and quality standards, while the Agency now has nationwide coverage and engages not only in raids for expired and unsafe foods but also engages in a pro-active training and sensitization of affected parties.
- False and Ignorant allegations
The Director General has no family member working at the Agency and got the job after applying for the post of Director General, interviewing and then offered the post of Deputy Director General in 2013 together with a Director General, as the first 2 staff of the newly created Agency, when the DG resigned and after a 7 month Acting as DG, Zainab Jallow was confirmed.
- She participated as DG and a member of the Board in the public recruitment and interview and appointment of all current staff at the FSQA which now stands at 70.
- The Agency has rules and regulations and is governed by the Civil Service Code of Conduct and staff who have resigned or been found wanting have been fired by the Board and a few are facing prosecution for theft or other unprofessional or corrupt acts.
- On the Board and its Composition
In management theory, there are levels and those levels have requisite competences and corresponding responsibilities.
The petitioners may not be aware but;
- The Boards are appointed by the President or Vice President as may be delegated and the first board of the FSQA was part of the Interviewing Panel and sat from 2012 to 2018, well beyond the 2 consecutive terms of 2 years and were finally dissolved by former VP Darbo and a new Board just instituted under HE Vice President Isatou Touray.
- The Director General is just the Chief Executive officer of the Authority and a simple Board member and implements Board Resolutions and to insinuate that the Board is under the control of the Director General shows remarkable ignorance and imagination.
- Working Environment and Favoritism
The Agency is a subvented Agency under the Office of the Vice President and operates fully under the Civil Service Code. It has its own internal rules and regulations and pays well over the Civil Service Pay Scheme and is highly technical and maintains high standards of ethics and integrity. It is the duty of the Director General to enforce the Agency’s mandate as well as the rules and regulations and that cannot be subject to whims and caprices.
While those who were fired or terminated by the Board know exactly the reasons for their dismissals, those who resigned cannot hide behind “they were forced to” and how can anyone be forced to resign.
- Senior Management Meetings are held regularly either monthly or when necessary
- General staff meetings are held quarterly or so as when time permits.
- The Agency is an enforcement one and Food Safety and Quality is now a science based one and thus the main directorates are;
– Scientific Affairs
– Food Control
– Regulations Affairs
And Support Services are;
– Finance and Human Resources
While this is a rebuttal to the campaign of lies and slander, the truth cannot be changed or hidden and shall ultimately prevail. Public Servants work for the citizens of The Gambia and with such positions comes great responsibility and when the formal investigations are completed, Zainab will take necessary action because we are a Nation of laws but to those hidden cowards hiding under anonymity, God Will Surely Judge.
But since the so called Staff have made their grievances known and the Relevant Authorities are taking due action, do they expect the FSQA to stop work and after having been trained, they are to be deployed nationally as per FSQA mandate and they complain, and expect to get paid to do what. The DG continues to do her job to the best of ability, without fear or favor, affection or ill will and expects the same from all the Staff as they are all PAID CIVIL SERVANTS.
Pa Musa Jallow
Former Secretary General