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Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Letter to Vice Chancellor, Professor Dr Hebert Robinson

Letter to Vice Chancellor, Professor Dr Hebert Robinson

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By DR Henry D.R Carrol (M.R.G.)
Solicitor General Emeritus of The Gambia
(From 2007 to 2009) Senior Oxford-trained lawyer
(From 1994 to date) &Founder Adjunct
UTG law lecturer (From 2007 to date)

Dear Professor Dr Robinson,

I was highly elated and thrilled to bits, when I heard the good academic and intellectual news on 30th November 2021, that His Excellency, President Adama Barrow who officially doubles as the Chancellor of the University of The Gambia, officially appointed you, as the new Vice Chancellor, the apex or apogee of academic learning in The Gambia.

A few weeks ago, I read a hilarious article titled: “UTG Gets New Vice Chancellor” published in the widely-read The Standard newspaper, and it was authored by Alagie Manneh. The first paragraph, of Mr Manneh’s article read: “President Adama Barrow has accepted the appointment of Professor Herbert Robinson as Vice Chancellor of The University of The Gambia, it was announced yesterday.” It is axiomatic or it goes without saying that a monumental legal fallacy was encapsulated in the aforesaid quotation. I therefore feel duty-bound to expeditiously set the records straight pro bono publico (for the good of the public).

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The aforesaid hilarious and unacceptable quotation projected the fallacious impression that another appointing authority appointed you as the new Vice Chancellor of the UTG, and after that, the matter was forwarded to the president for his endorsement, approval or otherwise. This was not a question of President Barrow exercising any “veto power”, like a Permanent Members of the United Nations Security Council concerning a resolutions passed by the UN General Assembly. The aforesaid impression was legally wrong because under the UTG Act (1999), the Gambian president who officially doubles as the Chancellor is indeed the only appointing authority (to the exclusion of all others), as far as the official appointment of a new Vice Chancellor is concerned.

The University of The Gambia, rightly and authoritatively, said your appointment “…is the culmination of a rigorous and painstaking search process for an inspiring leader of the country’s only public university. He emerged as first choice in a highly competitive international group of scholars.” The modus operandi for selecting a new Vice Chancellor are as follows: (1) First, a Joint Search Committee, whose members are drawn from both The Senate and The Governing Council, will be constituted; (2) The said Committee will publish an advertisement announcing a vacancy in the high office of The Vice Chancellor; (3) The said Committee will shortlist the best of the applicants and then send the list of shortlisted applicants to The Governing Council for them to be vigorously interviewed; (4) Finally, The Governing Council will select the best of the lot, and then forward his or her CV and an official recommendation in writing to The President-cum-Chancellor of The UTG, for his appointment or otherwise. My heartiest congratulation to you for coming out first in the keenly-contested race to The Chancery (the office of the vice chancellor) and your well-deserved presidential appointment.                                                                                          

As a senior Canadian-trained theologian, the appropriate theological quotation, that comes surfacing, to the landscape of my mind is: ”They that wait upon the Lord, shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings as eagle’s. They shall run and not be weary. They shall walk and not faint”, from the book of Isaiah, Chapter 40, Verse 31, The Holy Bible.

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Your impressive UK lecturing experience

A famous Chinese proverb says ”a journey of a thousand miles, begins with a single step”. You started your lecturing experience in earnest in the UK at Loughborough University in 2000. This was indeed a memorable year in my academic career, when I graduated at the University Of Wales, Aberystwyth, UK, the royal alma mater of Prince Charles, the Prince Of Wales, who in 2019, successfully embarked on a Royal West African tour, with the Duchess Of Cornwall, which brought them to The Gambia, Ghana and Nigeria. His mother, Queen Elizabeth II, made a royal visit to The Gambia in December 1961, the year of my birth. You became a full professor at London South Bank University, UK, in 2011, after you ably lectured and lead major academic programmes which incorporated cutting-edge research and consultancy projects. The said projects immensely benefitted both international firms and public sector reforms like the National Health Service of the UK, which worked in unison with the university. You were indeed an excellent Professor of Project and Sustainability Strategy. Your well-deserved attainment of a professor status in 2011 was indeed the dream of a life time, materialising into a tangible reality. My younger brother in the USA, Mr Samuel Carrol, and my cousin in New Zealand, Dr Tom Forster, who were your classmates at Gambia High School (GHS), have authoritatively confirmed to me that you were addressed as “Professor” since your GHS days. I have also noted with glee that before you went to GHS, you also attended my high school alma mater (St Augustine’s). You attended this citadel of learning, from 1978 to 1983, and thereafter crossed over to neighbouring GHS for your sixth form education. I attended St Augustine’s from 1975 to 1980 for my high school education, and after that I spent two more years from 1980 to 1982 for my sixth form education when the late veteran Irish priest, Father Joseph A Gough, CSSP, ORG, was our able principal.  

My law lecturing experience at the GTTI, UTG and University Extension Progamme (UEP)

GTTI: From 1994 when I returned home with flying colours as an Oxford-trained lawyer to 2007, I was a founder senior law lecturer at the GTTI Law Department. I lectured in the two-year Diploma In Law course and the Institute of Legal Executives (ILEX) course, the examination scripts of which, were marked by external law examiners in the UK. Three of my former outstanding GTTI Law students are Mr Pa Harry Jammeh, an ex-Solicitor General and Legal Secretary (like my humble self); Mr Ebrima Sallah, the deputy director Of GRA’s Legal Department; and Mr Sam Sarr, editor-in-chief of Foroyaa newpaper of PPDOIS.

UTG: From 2007 when I was officially appointed as the Solicitor General and Legal Secretary (the deputy chief legal adviser of The Gambia Government), I was also officially appointed as a funder UTG Adjunct Law Lecturer at the newly created Faculty of Law of the UTG. By God’s grace from 2007 to date, I have been holding this official position at the UTG, and for a good part of my UTG law lecturing career, I have been lecturing Environmental Law and Management. This lucidly explains why I am now an ex-legal adviser of the National Environment Agency, and why today the Minister of Environment, Climate Change & Natural Resources, Mr Lamin Dibba, was one of my distinguished former UTG Environmental Law students.

UEP: Before the UTG was established by an Act of the National Assembly in 1999, from 1997 to 1999, I was officially invited by a Canadian-born Professor of Environment to be a Visiting Environmental Law Lecturer in the UEP. Gambian-born Professor Muhamadou Kah, the longest serving UTG Vice Chancellor so far (2009-2015), and the late Dr Boro Suso (like me), were also visiting lecturers in the UEP.  The UEP was the precursor of the UTG. It was a bilateral education agreement between The Gambia Government and St Mary’s University in Halifax, Canada. My ex-civil service colleague, Mr Momodou Sabally, an ex-Secretary General and Minister of Presidential Affairs was the Valedictorian during the first grand graduation ceremony for UEP grandaunts, that took placed in The Gambia at The Kairaba Beach Hotel in 1999, and I attended the aforesaid ceremony with glee. By God’s grace, I now have 30 years of continuous law lecturing experience under my belt (3 decades or my silver jubilee anniversary plus five years). No Novus actus interveniens (break in the chain of causation) occurred.

Your impressive academic qualifications

The Holy Bible says: ”My people perish, because of lack of knowledge…” Book of Hosea, Chapter 4, Verse 6. After embarking on your further studies overseas, you justifiably acquired the following impressive academic qualifications (1) BSc (Hons) in Quantity Surveying (Construction Economics) from University of Reading, UK (1989); (2) A Master of Infrastructure Planning from University Of Stuttgart in Germany (1995); and (3) and a PhD in Infrastructure Economics from South Bank University (2001) in the UK. These impressive qualifications certainly put you in good stead for the UTG Governing Council to single you out as the best candidate for the high profile job of the Vice Chancellor of the UTG. ”Good, better, best, we must never rest, till our good is better, and our better best.”                                                                                                        

 My academic qualifications

My humble academic qualifications are as follows:  (1) LLB (Hons) University of London Via Buckland University College, Oxford; (2) Barrister-at-Law BL (Hons) & Solicitor of The Gambia Supreme Court; (3) Master of Laws (LLM) in Environmental Law & Management, University Of Wales, UK; (4) PhD Honoris Causa In Law, Commonwealth Open University UK; (5) PhD Philosophy Honoris Causa, Zoe Life Theological College, Philadelphia, USA; (6) Diploma In Theology, Wycliffe Theology College, Toronto University, Canada; (7)Postgraduate Diploma, International Trade Law, from World Trade Organisation Training Institute (Geneva) and University of Nairobi (Kenya); (8) Postgraduate Diploma in Public And Private International Law   from the United Nations Institute For Training & Research (Geneva) & The Hague Academy of International Law; (9) Fellow of The Hague Academy Of International Law (The Netherlands); (10) Founder Adjunct UTG Law Lecturer (2007 to date); (11) Solicitor General Emeritus (2007 to 2009); (12) A winner of a ”Class A” /Distinction Certificate from The Royal Commonwealth Society, London, after representing The Gambia in the late 1970s in The Queen’s International Commonwealth Essay Writing Competition only for Commonwealth citizens on the topic ”Conserving Energy Resources In The Commonwealth.” My learned friend, Her Excellency Madam Patricia Scotland, QC, the current erudite Commonwealth Secretary General, was among the international VIPs who deservedly attended President Barrow’s second grand Inauguration Ceremony at the Independence Stadium in Bakau on 19th January 2022, and eight African heads of state were also in attendance.

Your inspirational publications: You have scholarly authored many publications, including books, book chapters, technical papers, policy briefs and articles in prestigious international journals and conferences.

My few publications: Among my few publications, is An Anthology of Gambian Poems. My good friend and brother, Dr Cherno Omar Barry is the sole author of Dr Lenrie Peters – Trailblazer of Gambian Literature, published on 11th January, 2019. He is the current able president of Writers Association of Gambia (WAG). In January 2022 he informed me that WAG is now on the verge of publishing An Anthology of Gambian Poems and two of my inspirational poems namely  Sunrise In The Gambia, and Sunset In The Gambia, will certainly be incorporated in that publication. In the Law Of Evidence, ”Irrebuttable  Presumptions”  are presumptions that cannot be rebutted or discredited in a court of law, and a good example of an irrebuttable presumption is: ”The Sun rises in the East, and sets in the West”, hence the strong legal nexus, between the two aforesaid inspirational poems of mine.                                                              

Your able predecessors: Going down memory lane, since the establishment of the UTG in 1999, four erudite people of different nationalities were substantive holders of the high and coveted academic office of Vice Chancellor of the UTG, one of who is Professor Muhammadou MO Kah, the first Gambian to be vice chancellor of the UTG vel primus, vel cum primus (either the first, or among the first). By the grace of God, you are the fifth substantive VC of the UTG, and the second Gambian to substantively hold the position of VC of the UTG. It is of paramount importance to also warmly congratulate my other Gambian colleague in academia, Professor Dr  Pierre Gomez (UTG’s Deputy Vice Chancellor – Academic), for efficiently holding the fort during the interregnum as the Acting Vice Chancellor from the time Professor Dr Muhammed Anjum (a Pakistani Citizen) left The Gambia until 4th January, 2022, when you finally assumed office. ‘

‘The old order changeth, yielding place to the new, and God fulfills Himself in many ways, lest one good custom should corrupt the world.” These inspirational words, constitute a stanza, from Alfred Lord Tennyson’s masterpiece poem The Passing Of Arthur. I wish you all the best of luck, as you work hand in glove with your other colleagues in academia  to catapult the UTG from its present position to a world class university or a citadel of learning. Dum Spiro Spero  (while I live, I hope).

Yours In The Rule Of Law,

Dr Henry DR Carrol (MRG),

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