By Omar Bah
President Adama Barrow has said that the country’s public servants were the first victims of the brutality of the former regime.
The Gambian leader was speaking yesterday at State House whiles presiding over a meeting with senior civil servants.
“Indeed, it is an open secret that the public service itself became the first victim of the brutality of the past regime. These important institutions have been generally politicized, abused and rendered irrelevant as most operational and strategic decisions were surrendered to the Office of the President for one man to make them all,” he said.
This, he said, coupled with great instability of tenure and the brain drain, “the public service became largely non-responsive and low performing under the former administration.”
The public service, President Barrow said, is the machinery of government that is critical to national transformation and development. “Needless to point out that, the realization of our national development goals and objectives as enshrined in the National Development Plan depends largely on the critical role each one of you play at both technical and management levels,” he said.
President Barrow said on their part, at the level of the Executive, there is a huge political will to pursue the path of reform and restoration of best practices and not punishment. “This is why my first administrative orders as President were all aimed at revamping and sanitizing the public service.”
“These include: Setting up a panel to orderly reinstate the officials who were wrongfully dismissed by the previous Government, decongest the Office of the President by re-assigning institutions and line departments to the purview of the ministries where they rightfully belong, and effectively empower the sectors to be in charge of their mandates and be accountable for their actions,” he said.
He said as government set out to implement the new development blueprint, it cannot be business as usual.
“We need to understand that no progress can be made in developing our country if we continue to conduct business as usual. Change needs to happen and it needs to happen now. Let us therefore take charge of our destiny and make this country a better place for generations to come,” he said.
Barrow said: “We are faced with challenges but we are willing to listen and learn to succeed, but we can’t succeed without unity. Others can help us but the ultimate responsibility lies with Gambians. We all faced challenges of uncertainties but we have to be determined to set up and connect. Gambian experts have to take risks for the sake of The Gambia.”
“We were united in our fight for freedom; let us continue to be united to work for the development of our country. I call on Gambians with the expertise –knowledge and skills to reflect on how to contribute to the development of our country. We have to be fearless, take courage, faith and determination to succeed as a nation. Together we shall progress, let us come together,” he concluded.