Barrow urged to drop plans to appoint governors in Banjul, KM

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Gambian president Adama Barrow looks on during the African Union summit at the palais des Congres in Niamey, on July 7, 2019. - African leaders met on July 7, 2019 in Niger for the African Union (AU) summit, to sign a landmark free trade agreement, and to discuss looming security and migration crises on the continent. (Photo by ISSOUF SANOGO / AFP) (Photo by ISSOUF SANOGO/AFP via Getty Images)
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By Omar Bah

Lamin Keita, a Gambian PhD Fellow at the Northwestern University in the US, has advised President Adama Barrow to withdraw his plans to appoint governors in Banjul and Kanifing.

In one of his engagements in Kanifing during the meet-the-people Tour, President Barrow announced he will appoint governors for Kanifing Municipality and Banjul to put a halt to what he described as “efforts undermining his government’s programs”. The president said the leadership of the two councils has been hampering his government’s efforts to implement its programs.

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However, respected prominent Lawyer Lamin J Darbo, has since said the president does not have any constitutional powers to appoint governors for Banjul and Kanifing Municipality.

But reacting to the announcement in a Standard exclusive, Mr Keita said: “The president’s announcement should be seen as a clear manifestation of self-perpetuation with varying agendas. What is going on in regard to the political process should concern every Gambian because we are sliding back to dictatorship in a modest form.

“The role of our political leaders today gave way to pessimism about our new found democracy’s prospect. We can all attest to the preposition that the promotion of rapid democratic process in the Gambia with emphasis on competitive multiparty and free and fair governing capacity of the state is misguided at best, a fundamental mistake at worst. As a result, whether Barrow appoints the governors or not, the fact is the power of the people is more than his personal political ambition,” he said.

He argued that executive power, if unchecked, derails genuine democratic process and good leaders should oppose that trajectories.

For his part, Jeggan Grey Johnson, activist and social commentator, said: “Unless, President Barrow tells us that he wants to overthrow the 1997 constitution and bypass section 193 on the system of local governments – as this is criteria set in stone.”

He said local government authorities and administration shall be based on a system of democratically elected councils with a high degree of local autonomy.

“His utterances are ill-informed, irresponsible and smacks of conduct unbecoming of a leader in a country that is struggling to still solidify the aspirations of sound democratic practice after decades of rapaciousness, arbitrariness and rampant corruption and tyranny. If the president wants to take us back to those dark days, he must be informed that such utterances will not be tolerated under any circumstances,” he said.

Also, commenting on the matter, a prominent Gambian Human Rights and pro-democracy activist, Pa Samba Jow said the president’s pronouncement is made “out of emotion and not sound policy”.

“His whole argument sounds more vindictive than in the interest of the people. The last thing Gambians need during these very difficult economic times is another unnecessary office created for political reasons. I seriously believe that Barrow is using the KMC office opening snub as an excuse to justify appointments of governors in KMC and Banjul. Just like the opening of three new embassies, these governorships are meant to create positions for his political allies, even if it means further plunging our country into more debt and economic hardship.

“As for his complaints about the absence of National Assembly members at his rallies, I say kudos to the NAMs for not attending what has turned out to be nothing but an NPP political tour in direct contravention of the Constitution,” he added.