By Omar Bah
As he installed his new cabinet yesterday, President Adama Barrow has issued a strong warning to the new ministers that his government will have zero tolerance for corruption. The ministers were at State House to take their oath of office.
The Barrow administration has been widely perceived to be corrupt which the government denied.
However, addressing his ministers, Barrow said: “I assure you my support, but we must take a zero-tolerance stance on corruption. We are responsible for the state resources in our custody, and should not be found wanting.”
The Gambian leader said his government will take strict measures to implement the anti-corruption law.
“Therefore, it is best we work towards making The Gambia a model country for public service delivery. I encourage you to work in harmony, with sincerity and wisdom, while promoting peace, stability, and respect for the rule of law,” Barrow said.
He reminded the ministers that they were appointed based on trust and they must deliver to guide the policy direction of their various ministries.
“I must warn you that, while it is an honour to hold such high positions, and the challenges you will confront could be as many and complicated as the tasks and roles you will have to perform both in and out of office. You have been identified and appointed at a time when our national institutions require strong leadership, responsive policies, transformative programmes, and better results that can positively and effectively impact on national development and the quality of life in the country,” he said.
President Barrow said though cabinet appointments are generally considered to be political appointments, the ministries must be run by competent staff, with the right professional, administrative, and management structures in place to function efficiently.
“I challenge you to develop in your ministries a culture of high-level performance, productivity and results within agreed timeframes. This goes way beyond party politics. There are lessons to learn from the last five-year transition phase. Although we registered resounding successes, the need to brace up for greater achievements and a sharper approach to nation-building is too evident to require emphasis,” he added.
He reminded the ministers that their appointments have come at a time when Gambians want the government to be held accountable.
“This is an era in which the citizens are better informed and politically more active. They now enjoy uncensored freedom of expression, association and participation in national issues, and are determined to fight corruption. As a result, public figures must think, act, and behave differently in the national interest,” he noted.
He told the ministers that the country will never catch up with other nations if government officials continue to focus on individual growth, instead of re-orienting themselves collectively for the general welfare of all citizens.
“In the past five years, attempts to implement robust reform programmes and unite the people for justice and reconciliation were slowed down by both global and national factors. In various ways, individual interests and political party loyalty have compromised performance and progress in the public service. Attitude and commitment to work have been questioned in many instances, and there are moments when personal gain appears to outweigh output. The result is that, often, performance levels fall below expectations. Now that we have transitioned into a new political phase, this state of affairs has to change,” Barrow said.