By Omar Bah
For the first time since his party rescinded its decision to expel the Brikama Area Council chairman Sheriff Sonko, the leader of the United Democratic Party has spoken on the matter.
Sonko’s expulsion created an impasse with the chairman staying put and protesting that due process was not followed by the party itself. This followed a dramatic change by the UDP announcing the rescinding of the expulsion which critics called embarrassing and disorderly. But speaking to his supporters on Facebook, Ousainu Darboe said:“I am sure some people want to take the issue of Brikama Area Council in a way that is completely unnecessary and uncalled for. We have taken a decision and upon reflection we have rescinded that decision and whatever we do is in the best interest of the UDP. I want to assure every one of you that we will not do or act in any way that would not be in the interest of the party. I want to urge you leave the matter with the executive of the party”.
The UDP leader also talked about the recent redeployment of senior officials in the civil service, picking on the one involving the former social security MD Mohamadou Manjang who declined his appointment to the Senegalo Permanent Secretariat. “It was absolutely wrong and improper to designate a parastatal managing director to the position of executive secretary of the Senegalo-Gambia secretariat. I want to pray to God to really guide our decision makers because these are very serious mistakes and it just shows incompetence on the part of those who are advising the government. What is even worst, is that the government doesn’t know that the Senegalo-Gambia secretariat is not part of the Civil Service. It cannot deploy anyone from the Civil Service to the Senegalo-Gambia permanent secretariat in any capacity. It can only get the concurrence of the government of Senegal to a nominee being absorbed into that institution. The executive secretary of the Senegalo-Gambia secretariat has always been reserved to Senegal and not The Gambia.”
He argued that Manjang was doing well prior to the redeployment.
Darboe also accused the government of destroying Gambia’s already damaged Civil Service by transferring career permanent secretaries to “ministries, which does not have any relevance to the person’s previous training or experience. It certainly does not make any sense at all.”
The UDP leader said the Barrow government’s recent dealing with the civil service is a replica of Yahya Jammeh’s rule.
“The recent redeployments into the civil service is much to be desired. Yahya Jammeh destroyed the civil service, brought it to noughts; tampered with its efficiency and competence. We thought that with the advent of a Coalition government, there will be remedial measures applied to build the efficiency and competence within the civil service. But it does appear that, what used to happen during the Jammeh era, is in fact stronger today,” he added.
He said the Barrow administration had reshuffled the Civil Service for at least four times within three years. “This does not foretell well for efficiency. It does not promote competence, in fact, what it promotes really, is cronyism.”
The former foreign minister also advised the government against using the Foreign Service as a dumping ground.
He urged supporters of the party to engage their opponents maturely. “What we expect from you, is to help bring people into the party and not to harass or insult people,” he told his supporters.