Kairo News sources were confident that Solomon Owens was on the verge of throwing his ministerial towel well before the news broke out. But our editors used caution and decided to gather information in bits and pieces, in a bid to get to the bottom of the story.
Of course, every story has a motive or driving force, this one being no exception. Mr. Owens’ resignation as the Agriculture Minister was explained in this terse press release:
“The general public is hereby informed that Hon. Solomon J.E. Owens, the Minister of Agriculture has resigned from his Cabinet post on health grounds. Consequently, responsibility for the Ministry of Agriculture has reverted to the Office of the President and His Excellency the President of the Republic of The Gambia, Sheikh Professor Alhajhi Dr. Yahya A.J.J. Jammeh is now the Minister of Agriculture.”
Our sources, who had earlier described Solomon Owens as a career agricultural expert with a great wealth experience, hinted “the Minister will resign any moment from now. He is not a happy man because he is living with the pains of being put on top only to be rendered useless. Mr. Owens sees himself as nothing but a figure head as his former Permanent Secretary and deputy – Ebrima Jawara and Assan Jallow – have wielded all the decision making powers.”
Our sources disputed the government’s version of the story that Mr. Owens resigned on health grounds. “The fact is that he feels powers and ineffective,” maintained a ministerial source. One source attributed the development to fears of “insecurity looming over everyone’s head at the Agriculture Ministry where all the best brains have either fled into safety or becoming victims of witch-hunt.”
Mr Owens was first appointed deputy Minister of Agriculture in February 2012 before he became Minister a month later. Mr. Owens has 48 years of experience at the Agriculture Ministry.