By Tabora Bojang
Dr Bakary Nyambi Touray, the chairman of the political education unit of the Gambia For All party, has said that creating and maintaining what he called “useless presidential advisers” is wasting taxpayers’ money.
In a very rare media interview, Dr Touray told The Standard on the sidelines of international youth workshop organized by GFA in collaboration with the international federation of liberal and radical youths, the veterinary doctor argued that the president should instead count on his ministers and their technicians to run the State House and advise him on top policy initiatives than political operatives.
President Barrow has numerous advisers and deputy advisers in the persons of Henry Gomez, Dembo ‘By-Force’ Bojang, Dodou Sanno, Siaka Jatta, Saihou Mballow and Alkali Conteh among others.
However, Dr. Touray a one-time director of Livestock Marketing Board and International Trypanotolerance Centre ITC, said these positions are not necessary and are a wastage of resources: “You cannot have ministers, their permanent secretaries and their technical directors and yet from the taxpayers’ money, you employ a whole lot of so-called advisers. What do they advise on? It is waste of money from our hard-earned resources and the taxes that you and I pay that should go to our schools, hospitals and other sectors they are using to pay those useless advisers. As the president your adviser should be your minister and the minister’s adviser supposed to be the permanent secretary and the directors working under him. Have you ever heard former president Jawara with a political adviser? It never happened! Even former president Yahya Jammeh didn’t appoint advisers because there is no need for such advisers? Look at the Ministry of Agriculture where you have a minister, several permanent secretaries, who have their technical directors and they are there to advise cabinet through the minister,” he added.
Dr Touray said a GFA government will cut such wastage of public resources, reduce the numerous diplomatic missions and ministries with no presidential advisers. “We will provide the necessary resources to agriculture, education, the informal sector and boost technical and vocational education,” he noted.
Lack of accountability
Dr Touray further said there is lack of accountability in the country exacerbated by the lack of political education. “You cannot say oh, when I am politicking is one thing and when I am in power it is a different matter. Politics is not corruption but a noble profession based on accountability for the leadership. If you have a good leader who is accountable, has the expertise, the knowledge, experience and very importantly, the integrity, then people will give him the necessary respect and they will listen to him and do as he says. On the other hand, if you have a leader who is perceived to be corrupt or leading the government that is corrupt then no body is going to pay attention to what they say,” Dr Touray said.
In his response, President Barrow’s firebrand adviser Dou Sanno said Dr Touray is entitled to his opinion but that does not make it right. “To label the advisers useless is not only impolite but rather immature. The impact of the advisers is visibly demonstrated in the advancement of the quality of decisions President Barrow is taking in terms of democracy, economic administration and many aspects of the country that the advisers give their inputs on. Dr Touray should at least appreciate that the democratic space has improved tremendously to allow people like himself who were silent under Jammeh to now have a voice. Above all, these advisers are Gambians who were engaged in their respective productive activities before taking on adviser role out of love for their country. Unlike Dr Touray, President Barrow has found his advisers useful and important to his administration,” Sanno said.
He jokingly teased Dr Touray, whom he said may have done a very good job working as a veterinary doctor and livestock official but unfortunately, it looks like he is still thinking as if he is dealing with his animals. “No sir, you must now retire from that thinking and come back to deal with human beings,” Sanno teased Dr Touray.