The death of VP Badara Joof

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On openness and the importance of choosing a right successor

The body of the late vice president Badara Joof has been evacuated from India where he died last weekend. Mr Joof had gone to seek medical treatment in the southeast Asian country for a publicly undisclosed ailment. In fact Mr Joof had been in poor health for sometime. Except for the online portals What’s On Gambia and Jollof News, there was no public record of anything having gone amiss with regard to his health. The state thought it imprudent to inform the citizenry that the vice president had fallen ill and had been taken abroad for treatment.

The state should open up to the people about such matters. Badara Joof was the vice president and second in the line of succession. Like the president, the Speaker of the National Assembly or the Chief Justice, the state of his physical and mental health should be relayed to the people whenever the need arise. There is nothing to hush up about that. Vitality and debility are two sides of the coin of life. We will all fall ill someday and transition to the next world.

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The government should be proactive in the disclosure of certain information. We aspire to build a free and an open society and the people deserve to know about the wellbeing or otherwise of the people they elect and select to run the affairs of the state. In fact, in some countries, even the results of periodic medical examinations of a president or a deputy head of state are announced publicly. We should encourage such cultures to take firm roots in The Gambia.

That being said, we join President Adama Barrow, his cabinet and government and the family of the late vice president in mourning a man who was greatly admired for his candour, humility and dedication to duty. Most of those who knew him well (see DA Jawo’s appreciation on Page 5) spoke superlatively of him. Of course Badara Joof had the title of His Excellency, but he was neither excellent nor perfect. He had his flaws like any man. He had his critics who gave him flak, for example, the way he used to break the traffic rules when going or returning from work. But most Gambians concurred that he was fair-minded, patriotic, bold, hardworking, loyal and a man of great intellect and transformative ideas who passionately believed in the ‘New Gambia’ project. His life should serve as an inspiration to all public servants.

As his mortal remains are committed to the earth this afternoon, we pray that the Good Lord covers him with His abounding grace, forgives him his shortcomings and richly reward him for his goodly deeds.

We also pray that the Good Lord will not place a wool over the eyes of President Barrow and that he will see with the sharp clarity of the mind of his eye and will select the right person to succeed Badara Joof as vice president. The next vice president should be a competent person, a hard worker, a man of ideas and vision, a good communicator, a unifier, someone who understands the processes of government, an institutionalist, incorrupt, experienced and a team worker in addition to having other qualities.

That will be honouring the legacy of Badara Joof!