By Tabora Bojang
Political science lecturer, Essa Njie has said Gambians would have respected vice president Badara Joof more if he had owned up to the failures and challenges under his former education ministry during his blunt assessment of ministries at a cabinet retreat held at the Sir Dawda Jawara Conference Centre last week.
Addressing the gathering, which brought together government officials from all ministries to discuss pressing development issues and come up with implementable actions for better service delivery to the public, vice president Joof expressed dissatisfaction over the conduct of public affairs and service delivery, saying Gambians have great expectations and business as usual is not sufficient to bring about decisive change.
The VP said he does not mind being sacked by the president for being truthful.
While this speech buoyed many Gambians who took to social media to commend him for his “boldness and determination” to institute strict reforms, others accused him of refusing to take responsibility for the shortcomings of the higher education sector which he was leading from February 2017 to May 2022.
Delivering his perspective on the vice president’s remarks on The Brunch, a current affairs programme on Kerr Fatou Saturday, Essa Njie who holds a double masters degree in human rights and democratisation in Africa, as well as security and leadership studies, argued that the vice president could have done better by admitting to the failures and challenges of his former sector, including the University of The Gambia instead of jumping to other ministries.
“I think we can hold Badara to account to say you have not done much to improve the higher education sector and it was important for him to also acknowledge that. But if you listen to the statement, he smartly avoided talking about the problems in the higher education sector. He only said they have started to reform the higher education sector and he hopes his successor will take over from that and he also talks about transforming GTTI and MDI into a university, which I am totally against in the sense that UTG was running an engineering program and the ministry under Badara Joof said the UTG has to stop that program and be run by GTTI since they are transforming GTTI into a university. But the issue is that, UTG has been here for 23 years and nothing much has changed. We have challenges in that university, we can’t even secure a campus, we don’t even have proper library and addressing these problems and many others at UTG should be the focus but just like Jammeh did, building schools and hospitals here and there focusing on quantity and no quality, Barrow is also on the same mission to also say that since ‘I came to office I was able to build two universities’ and so on. This is the politics they are playing and the ministry is helping in that. So Badara should have also acknowledged that indeed we have challenges in our higher education sector. Gambians were really going to rate him higher if he had said that ‘in fact my own sector has failures’, this is what he failed to do and as vice president and cabinet member, I am ready to learn from this challenge to help my successor to move and improve the sector and then he can move on to other areas or ministries but it seems like he was focusing on other areas and tries to blame others,” Njie stated.