Three facts stand out concerning the brouhaha over the appointment of the Permanent Secretary 1 at the Ministry of Agriculture: that Minister Omar Amadou Jallow has set a bad precedent, Secretary General Dawda Fadera is spineless and that the Personnel Management Office officials watch like zombies while Civil Service tradition is being jeopardised. OJ’s refusal to work with Ousman Jammeh on flimsy excuses must not be condoned in a New Gambia. One of the reasons why we unseated the deposed dictator was that Yahya Jammeh rooted discrimination in the hearts and minds of people. In a post-Jammeh Gambia, one expects Gambians to quickly throw away all their differences, forget about the past and unite in nation-building. Finding common grounds is a must in a Coalition government like ours. What OJ doesn’t understand is the fact that Permanent Secretary is a Technocrat who drives the Ministry’s engine. Unlike the minister whose appointment is political, the Permanent Secretary is appointed based on competence, qualification and wealth of experience. Ousman Jammeh’s appointment by the PMO on December 5th should have stood even if the minister raised some eyebrows. But it is evident that OJ was allowed to re-write the Civil Service rules while the spineless Fadera and careless PMO officials condoned outright classic case of discrimination. Who is OJ to favour Assan Jallow over Ousman Jammeh on the pretext that the former had more experience than the latter or the former bags his university degree first? This raises unanswered questions: is OJ favouring his Jallow relative or scared of working with Jammeh. There is a sense in Ousman Jammeh’s counter-argument that it doesn’t matter whether Assan first attained university graduation.
“Minister Jallow is someone that I have not worked with but I have great respect for him. However, I am confused by his decision of saying that he cannot work with me,” Mr Jammeh told local media, arguing that his civil service career started in 1993 as compared to Assan’s 1994.
He said based on OJ’s assumption, Dawda Fadera would not have been the Secretary General. “OJ is a high school graduate while many career civil servants are more qualified than Fadera,” he said, brushing aside OJ’s arguments.
OJ must not forget that he became the Agriculture Minister for the second time under the 2006 Coalition Agreement that brings politicians with different ideologies together. The interim leader of PPP betrayed the spirit of a coalition that survives on compromise in the spirit of bailing out the Gambia. There is no excuse for not working with anyone that you dislike or disagree with in such an environment. When it comes to serving the public all of us we must be willing to demonstrate our gift of diversity.
Ousman Jammeh does not deserve a demotion to the position of Director of Agriculture Services. He is right to be sceptical to have a healthy working relationship with a Minister who does not want “to work with me.” An issue like this must not be left under the carpet.
Crying over this case has no use. It’s like crying over spilt milk. Like all other problems, the government must see it as a learning curve. As such we need to see the executive power at work whenever this type of brouhaha occurs in the future. President Adama Barrow must act decisively if the Secretary General condones outright discrimination in the Civil Service. Improper handling of this case leads to the resignation of a highly qualified and experienced civil servant. This is uncalled for in the democratic Gambia. In fact, lawmakers should launch a probe into this issue.