Gambia: Why I am impressed by the new Interior minister?


By Gibril Saine

Reading through the lines of The Standard newspaper in Banjul, something refreshing struck me about the man in charge of The Gambia’s internal security, Habib Drammeh. In his swearing-in remarks after taking the oaths of office, Minister Drammeh made it known that the desired goal of his tenure will be ”to achieve substantiate and quantifiable results through team-work, trust, skills and such best practice management styles for a desired results-oriented security organisation working in the national interest. ”We will recognise the best in people, he said, and to inquire, explore, search, and discover by asking the right questions”, going on to emphasise ‘the urgent need’ but also responsibility to provide adequate and timely security to The Gambian people.

In laying out his do-list for the coming months [urgent], the minister plans to ”conduct departmental review and needs analysis of all the agencies under his portfolio”. During this process, he went on, we will identify and prioritise the gaps, needs and requirements” in mapping out a coherent and coordinated national security structure working in sync.


Minister Drammeh further described his vision in these terms: “For the most efficient security service, we shall deliberately map out necessary and effective interventions that are designed to deliver best value [for money] in the delivery of vital services to the people – our clients.” His comment right here impressed me most, necessitating this piece. Finally, in all place Africa, here is a minister educated through the rafters of the Constitution on what democratic governance entails in view of government-citizen-relations with respect to the ”social contract”. Minister Drammeh rightly pointed to the fact that government (and the various bureaucracies manning portfolios) are ordinary agents of the people, that is, the tax-paying public. And that ministerial tenure (and every other office under the executive) should be subject to periodic review and analysis in a results oriented management.

I do not know the guy, nor have I met him, but he reeks of high intellect and planning which bodes well for the reform agenda in motion under President Barrow’s leadership. However, people change and power corrupts, so I will reserve judgement on his tenure – only time will tell how successful his time in office shall become on a transformational platform to further define the coalition government’s legacy.
In terms of the critical challenges facing the security sector, the minister has endeavoured to ‘implement his vision to a strict timetable. That is what I call competence. He plans to deliver such results by ‘developing a verifiable scorecard, and for periodic reports to The Gambian people on such achievements’ (failures and challenges ahead). Now that is what I call vision.

Still moving forward – The Gambia is at a somewhat crucial phase of both system and attitudinal change. If President Barrow is to be successful, he will have to be surrounded by competent ministers to advise and brainstorm ideas at the cabinet level, and to deliver results, or face the sack. With all seriousness it deserves, the country must do away with certain attitudes conflated for tradition if our young people, families and the country at-large is to be successful long term. If The Gambia is to reach the heights of Singapore and Malaysia, her government and people need to reduce parties and to inculcate work ethic. Mr President, maintaining two separate ministries for education is unwise and expensive – amalgamate the two under one roof for effective and efficient service delivery as in every prosperous country around the world, and in the process reduce pressure on budget.