As the nation begins a new political phase, all attention is on how the new cabinet ministers would “guide the policy direction of their various ministries”, to hold the nation together in peace, stability and development.
With barely eight weeks since the appointment of the new cabinet, we cannot as a nation be complacent but remain focused and purposeful to manage successfully our nation’s limited resources.
It is in this regard that we consider the assurance by Vice President Badara Joof that “this government wants to get it right for the next five years” as timely and laudable. “It is right to do what is right to get it right and we have to get it right by doing what is right”. The Vice President’s speech followed President Barrow’s declaration of “zero-tolerance stance on corruption”. President Barrow added that “we are responsible for the state resources in our custody and should not be found wanting. Strict measures will be taken to implement the anti-corruption law; therefore, it is best to work towards making The Gambia a model country for public service delivery”.
The assurance, given by our Vice President at the first “special retreat” of cabinet ministers must be emphasised. This is because it is the first time he has given such important assurances as the nation starts anew.
In my view however, Vice President Joof’s call can only be potent in the collective involvement of all stakeholders.
We need all hands on deck to ensure that the country maintains its global reputation in democratic governance and administration.
The Vice President’s assurance alone, no matter how great it is, cannot be realised if other stakeholders in the government process, including political parties do not support his call. It is therefore important for cabinet ministers to play their part to make the call for timely delivery of service a reality.
To achieve this, it is incumbent on all cabinet ministers to ensure that during the next five years, they deliver on the “ten priority areas, (not exhaustive)” of the government development agenda by monitoring and evaluating the implementation and assessing of progress made as well as constraints.
We need to urgently do away with the mistrust of the government and its agencies and stop the peddling of falsehoods.
As Gambians, we expect and are positive that the new cabinet will execute the functions of their duties according to their oath of office.
Nevertheless, we expect the government to increase public engagements and deepen its accountability mechanisms, including working more closely with the National Assembly and the Judiciary to enhance public confidence in its own activities.
We expect government institutions, especially the National Counsil for Civic Education (NCCE) to vigorously educate the public on the importance of national cohesion and the perils of violence among other concepts, in order to instil in the Gambian a sense of patriotism.
We also expect civil society organisations (CSOs) to continue their advocacy for peace and stability while deepening their support for good governance. The CSOs must focus on influencing consciousness aimed at building in Gambians a spirit and sense of patriotism, especially, with a view to curbing politically related violence.
In the same breath, we expect the media to rise up to their watchdog role and hold all stakeholders accountable. The media must engage in reportage devoid of partisanship and sensationalism.
Again, we expect the security agencies to maintain a high professional standard and execute their mandate without fear or favour. Anything short of this will not help grow the country’s democratic culture. “It shudders the intelligent mind to understand how trucks of timber can leave LRR passed all those security checkpoints, over 15 to 20 of them and reached the ports. You have security at the ports and you have inspection at the ports and they are shipped out. Something is fundamentally wrong with that. The security will have to fix it!”, concludes Vice President Badara Joof.