By Omar Bah
At least nine Civil Society Organisations have signed a petition urging President Adama Barrow to rescind his decision to appoint Executive Coordinators for Banjul and Kanifing.
Last month, the government confirmed the appointment of Bakary Singhatey of Dippa Kunda and Ebrima Jawo as Executive Coordinators for Kanifing Municipality and Banjul. The move has since attracted condemnations and significant public debate, with the President’s Office issuing a clarification on the Executive’s powers to affect such an appointment.
In a statement shared with The Standard yesterday, the civil society organisations wrote: “It is our considered view that the appointments contradict the government’s national development plan and will take away scarce resources that local governments need for development. Our statement wishes to address these two issues to encourage the President to rescind his decision to appoint Executive Coordinators, which the newly appointed Executive Coordinator for Banjul has stated is very similar to the Governor’s role, only that the titles are different.”
The undersigned CSOs also reminded the president of the principle of decentralisation as stipulated in the NDP for 2018–2021.
“It is our considered view that the appointment of executive coordinators and their deputies will take considerable resources from local governments. Newly appointed Executive Coordinators will be paid a salary, provided a fully functioning office, allocated a vehicle, drivers, and all the staff required, office equipment, and programmes to implement within their administrative area. The 2024 Draft Budget indicates that Executive Coordinators for Banjul and KMC will cost taxpayers at least D1.7 million in 2024 on salaries and allowances alone,” it added.
Considering the scarcity of resources, the CSOs added, “before the government decides to proceed with its decision to allocate all these resources to a new office that will potentially rival the existing local government structures, we urge the Executive to consider the benefit of allocating these resources to the existing local governance structures in furtherance of its development priorities.”
The CSOs recommended that the government return to the drawing board and assess its progress in achieving the objectives set out in the NDP 2018–2021 on decentralisation, reverse its decision to appoint Executive Coordinators for Banjul and Kanifing, assess the necessity of appointing governors for other regions vs redirecting such resources into local government structures in other regions, conduct a cost analysis on the benefits of maintaining the office of governors’ vs investing the same resources into existing local government structures across all regions, review the Local Government Act 2002 and other government policies to enhance decentralisation, strengthen human and institutional capacities for decentralisation of existing local governance structures, and expand the revenue bases for councils supported by standardised financial management and accounting systems.
The statement was issued by Team Gom Sa Bopa, Gambia Press Union, Salimatou Foundation for Education, Beakanyang Kafo, FactCheck Gambia,ANEKED, Activista, Right 2 Know, Solo Sandeng Foundation, Baboucarr Nyang, Madi Jobarteh, and Omar Danso, all activists.