Sarjo Bayang seeks to raise the bar higher
Where systematic dispensation is lacking there human capital capability, efficiency and effectiveness can be seriously undermined. Optimal utilisation of policy instruments and good governance are key requirements for sustainable organisational development and institution building. Efficiency and effectiveness cannot be properly determined without having systems and performance measuring instruments in place to ensure maintenance of orderly dispensation.
Dismantling the structures and abolishing systematic dispensation is the most visible evidence of failure when assessing proper governance for organisations, institutions, and businesses. This relates to the situation of governance in Gambia. The same instruments become useful in measuring upkeep of standards or extent of deviation by a company’s board and also for any sitting government that has responsibility over key decision making duties. Close examination of these conditions as obtains under Yaya Jammeh’s 20 years military dictatorship in Gambia focuses on critical elements that may stimulate topical public interest for further scrutiny.
Setting performance and operational standards
Institutions and organisations preferring optimal gainful results cannot achieve their goals by leaving that to chances. It takes careful planning and serious commitment to produce best desired results. Any deviation from set standards invariably paves the way for poor performance and failing results. All operations require to be carried out by measured compliance to guidelines in accordance with standard of best practice. Deviation from standard best practice or total absence of operational instruments will always render failing outcomes.
Those standards and guidelines are to be agreed then put to practice. Followed properly without deviation from set standards, quality dispensation is thus maintained. One thing to remember is that quality is not always about best of anything. Quality maintenance is all about keeping to agreed standards. That can be low, high, or medium scale. An example is when manufacturers produce goods of similar nature with variation in quality for diverse user brackets. All of it depends on standard of consumers targeted for particular products and services. Compliance with set standards produces measurable anticipated results. Deviation from standards also produces undesired results.
Organisational development and institution building is no different ball game when it comes to maintenance of standards. That goes for businesses and other forms of organisations. Political establishments are meant to operate by strict upkeep of standard delivery according to agreed terms and conditions.
Holders of public office like the president and state ministers are subjected to scrutiny for ensuring they observe rules and regulations. These rules and regulations are properly documented as guidelines. Orderly dispensation of rules and regulations become known as policy and procedures. Compliance to guidelines and procedures in the way of conduct for those in public office is another way of keeping to protocol.
In Gambia most people associate observation of protocol to designated personnel at offices of President and Vice President. The truth is that everyone in public office is bound to ensure that all protocols are observed. When protocol is flawed, it can lead to crisis in governance. Again, governance is not only about how a country is run by political parties in power. The running of organisations and institutions also has to follow general policy and procedures of governance in accordance with protocol.
These and other rules of conduct are not meant to be flawed by anyone in public office. It is wrong for someone like a country’s president talking and acting as though a wealthy person in private capacity. Even for very rich persons who established their business with other functional roles in place they let things follow standard of policy and procedures in line with best practice. Lack of observing protocol is deviation from standard of best practice on account of leading an institution. It also amounts to serious contempt by a sitting president as in the case of Yaya Jammeh while claiming to be leader of Gambian nation.
Rules and Regulations
All types of establishments where people agree to stay together require rules and regulations. Some rules are written while others may not be but still followed. Marriage is perhaps one of the oldest human establishments that does not always have written rules but still regulated by convention and traditional wisdom.
Marriages are agreed by affected parties and witnessed thereby. In some traditions agreed terms are written as documentary evidence of the union. Others simply pronounce it by word of mouth. The point needing to take home is that civilised society for the longest time recognised rules and regulations in dealing with each other. Those who fall outside of stipulated rules get punished in various ways.
In the political arena, dispensation of governance is bound to follow rules and regulations. These are found in the nation’s big book of rules and regulations better known as the Constitution or some specified documentation. Political parties in power are mere custodians of the constitution having no power of making changes without consulting key stakeholders; the citizenry. When representatives of a ruling party including their leader do anything that violates the constitution, the action is punishable. That party leader is subjected to impeachment for violation of the nation’s rules and regulations.
Any time citizens feel that rules are violated by those keeping temporal custody as in the case of ruling political parties, there is lawful occasion to regulate the regulator. Remember that sitting governments don’t own the country but simply serving as temporal custodians of laws and other instruments of governance. When small, medium or large organisations get registered as legal entity those responsible for executing various roles are subjected to similar scrutiny. Organisations and institutions can sue and be sued.
Institution Building and Organisational Development
Organisations and institutions are seen to be operating properly by complying with rules and regulations agreed at time of their formation. Governments are organisations established with various institutions performing separate functions. Their operations are regulated and further developed into what becomes policy. Observance and upkeep of policy is where procedures become handy.
This online media platform is no lesser example of an organisation with all the hallmarks of an institution. On that account, rules, regulations, policy and procedures must be upheld by providers of online media services if any of them is to be taken serious. Those who choose to operate without policy, procedures, rules and regulations have all rights to do so. The good thing about rules and regulations is that those that make them are themselves subjected to scrutiny. In others words, the regulator must be regulated just as president of a country and all law makers are bound to obey the same law for everyone else.
Policy and Procedures
Once rules and regulations are agreed, the next thing to look at is how policies are formulated and procedures put in place for due process of orderly dispensation.
Policy formulation requires the placement of operational instruments for their judicious utilisation. It also entails providing guidelines for those designated to implement those policies. On their own, policy instruments are not useful enough if they don’t fulfil the purpose of keeping the organisation, or institution properly functioning establishment.
In practice, policy and procedures are put in place to guide the conduct of designated persons on their specified roles. Taking the example of ruling political parties, rules regulations, policy, and procedures are expected at the party level as a functioning organisation, to start with.
Members of the public deserve to know the policy of a political party especially at the time of voting. Political parties without good policy while outside government will invariably not do any good when they take custodianship of entire nation including all public resources and instruments of governance.
Curious observation of how the military government of Yaya Jammeh came to power and the way everything revolves around one man reveals serious flaws suggesting the party does not go by rules and regulations. In that same manner, total absence of policy and procedures implies lawlessness is prevalent especially at level of the ruling party leadership.
It may be acceptable to party members of the ruling junta AFPRC that their leader is excused for noncompliance to rules, regulations, policy, and procedures. However, when the party assumes custodianship of Gambian constitution, rules, regulations, policy and procedures cannot be compromised without being challenged for disorderly conduct.
As matters stand, 20 years of junta party leader Yaya Jammeh misruling Gambia provides all evidence that Yaya as person in that capacity grossly abuses the seat of political power by default or by design. It was wrong in first place for the military to delete term limit of a sitting president without due consultation of key stakeholders; the citizenry. That is the roadmap to lawless Gambia by dictates of Yaya Jammeh as military ruler grossly violating the country’s laws willy-nilly.
In passing, it has now become clear that military rule in Gambia does not respect rules, regulations, policy and procedures. There are very competent persons serving under the junta regime who know more than what this article seeks to convey. They have to be fair enough by refusing to be misled any further. One way to go about it is by vote of no confidence for those parliamentary representatives. In the case of ministers and the administration, having to resign will be decent enough. Surely, for those who wish to keep quiet till the full weight of lawlessness, arbitrary rule and all that goes in the absence of rules, regulations, policy and procedures falls on them, they have choice for now. When it gets too late nobody can help.
Office of the President Policy Analysis Unit is Without Policy
Under office of the president there exists what is called Policy Analysis Unit. In principle, every sector of the nation is required to have policy guidelines for execution. Many Gambians will be shocked to know that the government agency (Policy Analysis Unit) located at Office of Gambian president has no policy environment, nor the instruments for judicious implementation. Surely the unit has no policy on regulated conduct of the president. Even where any policy instruments are kept for sake of formality (which is highly doubtful) Gambia’s sitting military ruler now seeking to be crowned as king is behaving about all regulation, rules, and laws.
Some of the officials of the policy Analysis Unit past and present will tell you they have no idea about any policies regarding their own operations. They also confirmed keeping a whole office in the name of policy analysis with no policy in their cupboards and nothing to analyse.
Quizzed about the largely informal conducts of current president Yaya Jammeh, nobody in the Policy Analysis Unit is able to trace any policy instruments on governance and nothing about how the president is regulated to live by the codes of conduct as policy and protocol dictate. It emerged that as the president has no instruments to rely, any occupier of the post is free to act however unlawful that may be since there are no rules, regulations, policy and procedures to refrain the occupier. In the case of Yaya Jammeh he may be in flagrant violation of rules or taking undue advantage where such rules are totally absent. Otherwise, it may be that Gambia’s good legal hands decided keeping mute about such a serious gap in governance. Is that negligence, by design or some default?
This drives further enquiry regarding how the nation’s sitting president flatly disrespects protocol so much that he claims Gambia is his personal property. In that frame of mind it is the current occupier (Yaya Jammeh) who gives vehicles to government institutions, chooses to be minister responsible for agriculture, energy sector, dictates cash flow, hiring and firing public sector employees, tells the Speaker of National Assembly he will be jailed for not keeping the House of Parliament clean, deciding who gets arrested, taken to court or detained without trial. The list goes.
Where the position of presidency is not subjected to rules, regulations, policy and procedures, nothing goes right in Gambia. It is at this moment that every Gambian is required to challenge occupiers of the nation’s public offices and demand that proper policies are formulated for judicious execution of government deliverables.
In the past there has been something on 10 Year Educational Plan as recalled by officials of Education Department. There is no clear detail on time frames and policy formulation as in that case of Education Department. From a discussion with those close to the Education Department what came up has more to do with educational planning over number of years as opposed to education policy for various stages. Planning can only be effective when it relies on clearly formulated policies. Policies and plans may relate but one is not same as the other. Further scrutiny of the various sectors will help anyone to get better clarity about policy, procedures, rules and regulations for all arms of government along their designated departments.
Policy as Instrument of Governance
Every government institution is bound to produce detailed policy instruments regarding their operations and how each relates to other institutions or end users. Possibly some outdated material is collecting dust in some’s cupboards.
Clearly, a nation is not sustained in the absence of policy, procedures, rules and regulations. If that is how things are done in Gambia, it tells so much about why many organisations keep failing. It is generally the case that Gambians are quick at forming groups but not so good at establishing into viable functioning organisation or institutions.
Absence of robust organisational culture and institutional orientation is largely to blame for Gambians forming groups but unable to rise to the challenges of advancing beyond formative stages.
Operating without being established is recipe for organisational failure and institutional break down that continues to plague Gambian formations; from briefcase one man NGOs to groups.
Institution building and organisational development cannot be sustained by word of mouth. The regulators have to be regulated. Rules must be rules, meant to be obeyed. Without policy and procedures being preserved for better use, systematic dispensation is at risk of flaws.
Organisations and institutions for them to be functionally viable require policy instruments put to effective use in line with best practice standards of excellence.
Quite often, organisations compose elaborate statements called memorandum of association just to meet legal requirements for registration purpose. After getting permission to carry on, they never bother reviewing those documents. In fact, many organisations don’t operate according what they promise in the beautifully worded documentation to get registered.
President’s Disregard for Instruments of Governance, Policy and Procedures
A sitting president feeling above the law can be dangerous for the citizenry. Such is the unfortunate situation that Gambians are faced under 20 years forced military rule of Yaya Jammeh. Matters got to very serious problem situation when Yaya said over national radio and television that he owns Gambia. This goes to show how noncompliant such a person is that he will not observe any protocol, not to mention upkeep of rules, regulations, policy and procedures required for due process in governance.
By his refusal to respect Gambian laws Yaya Jammeh is seen to be most contemptuous. What makes it more serious is the fact that even the good custodians of legal instruments shy away from letting rules prevail. Court cases are determined by the extent that the president is interested. How does a president pose as example of a good farmer when the same president insists he will jail competent officials of the Agricultural Department in the frivolous claims of economic crime? What policy and procedures are being flawed by these officials more damaging than how Yaya Jammeh as president is breaking all aspects of Gambian laws (if there ever existed)? How is Jammeh richer than Gambia government and still not ripe as economic criminal? What policies are in place to permit a sitting president go into full scale commercial business? How does a sitting president claim he can cure HIV /AIDS, Ebola and other chronic health conditions; being allowed to operate private clinic for that purpose? What policies are there that the president is so bold to do all that everyone else knows as improper conduct on the nation’s highest political seat?
When Imam Karamo Touray (of blessed memory) was dragged to court just for not paying open allegiance to the junta regime of Yaya Jammeh, justice was required to set him and all the rest free. The Presiding Magistrate then Lamin J Darbo ruled that Imam Touray be freed. He remained free to continue serving people of Brikama as respectable community leader and upright Imam.
What is stopping majority of Gambia’s legal fraternity from emulating the good work of magistrates like Lamin J Darbo by tearing down all bad laws to let justice prevail? If one person (Yaya Jammeh) refuses to respect Gambian laws and the rest of Gambians insist laws must be preserved and obeyed to the letter, he alone could not pull that heavy load of lawlessness. Those who enable Jammeh will not stay on enjoying that now or in the long run.
What is Governance all about?
Beyond the operations of political parties as keepers of regulations in ruling a nation, governance extends even further. Take any small formation as example and see how good governance fits in the equation of day to day running or beyond.
Quite often, governance is associated with political management of a state. From small, medium, and large organisations, a robust governance environment makes such difference to loose hand unstructured informal mode of operating without being established. It does not matter how long an operation spans in time stretch, without properly placed instruments of good governance, there is long way to go before being established as viably functioning entity. That goes for the many Gambian groups formed and still struggling to leap ahead. It is also the situation of many online platforms created and not getting any better established as properly constituted media service enterprise outlets.
In the case of Gambia, lack of policy, procedures, total disregards for rules and regulations especially at level of the presidency makes governance more improbable also largely malfunctioning. Visible appearance of office buildings, tables, chairs, cars, and people moving in and out is not enough.
Policy, procedures, rules and regulations are intangible instruments of governance. Their absence can be felt by misconduct of those who are responsible for proper upkeep as custodian of the rules everyone must obey.
To repair so much damage caused by Yaya Jammeh and his cohorts over 20 years forced rule will first require first setting the environment where these missing instruments will be housed. Then more serious work begins in having to develop the instruments of governance.
*Reactions to article can reach the author by email: email@example.com