By Tabora Bojang
Retired Colonel Momodou Ndow Njie has asked the government to withdraw his nomination from the Army Council. His nomination was kept on hold for scrutiny, consideration, and advice before the National Assembly after his nomination by the president.
The Armed Forces Council was established as part of the Security Sector Reform (SSR) to serve as an advisory body to the president on matters relating to defence and assist in the oversight processes and democratic civilian control of the Armed Forces.
The Council comprises the vice president, the Chief of Defence Staff, the Minister of Defence, commanders of the Army, Navy and Air Force, the PS Ministry of Defence, and two others to be appointed by the president subject to the approval of the National Assembly.
Rtd. Colonel Ndow Njie, a former army commander, and Colonel Yusupha Baboucarr Dibba were nominated by President Adama Barrow to the Council but while lawmakers okayed Col. Dibba’s nomination, they deferred the appointment of Col. Ndow Njie until substantial documentation is provided.
However, yesterday, the Minister of Defence Sheikh Omar Faye, appeared before the National Assembly to table a new motion for lawmakers to confirm the appointment of Rtd. Lt. Col. Abdoulie Conteh, a former army commander and Mayor of KM for approval and confirmation.
Minister Faye told The Standard that Njie, who was one of the founders of the Gambia National Army in 1984 and becoming its first commander, has asked the government to withdraw his nomination.
“He [Col. Njie] contacted me and said he doesn’t think it is fair as a senior citizen and his contribution to this country that people, some of whom don’t even know him, would put his character to test. He [Col. Njie] figured it’s not worth it. He wants to keep his dignity and his character as a senior Gambian citizen and he would not be in the plenary and allowing people to say all kinds of things against his character. He figures that’s most un-Gambian and unethical, so he has asked me to withdraw his nomination,” Faye added.
Asked if his ministry took time to let Col. Njie understand parliamentary procedures, Faye stated that Col. Njie knows the processes more than he [Faye] does.
“He has been in this world before I do, he is highly experienced. He has been an ambassador, army commander and has been around the world. So he knows everything I would tell him,” Faye said.
Faye, himself a former army commander and ambassador, maintained that the withdrawal of Col. Njie’s nomination does not mean everything is gone, saying he [Col. Njie] would continue to support the Barrow government and the Gambia Armed Forces wherever needed.
However, there does not seem to be a plain-sailing for the new nominee too, Lie Conteh. Yesterday, a member for Serekunda Halifa Sallah filed a motion for the assembly to refer Conteh’s appointment to the assembly public appointment committee for scrutiny. The motion was unanimously agreed.
Lie Conteh served as Mayor of Kanifing from 1997 to 2005. In addition to being the commander of the Army, and Gambia’s former ambassador to France, Conteh holds an MBA and BA honours in Business Studies from the University of Wales.