The Gambia and the Reality of the Country and People We Are: An Opinion

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Baba S. Touray

By: Baba S. Touray

The Gambia, a nation rich in culture and potential, stands at a crossroads. Despite its promising future, our progress is continually hampered by the government’s incompetence in appointing unqualified individuals to critical positions within the public service. These wrongful appointments, from governors to presidential advisers, undermine our governance’s foundation and stall national development.

Political Appointments: A Crisis of Competence

One glaring issue is the appointment of politicians to positions for which they lack the requisite expertise. Governors, who should possess a deep understanding of regional issues and governance, are often chosen based on political loyalty rather than merit. This practice disconnects the needs of the populace from the actions of those in power. Regional development projects stagnate, and local grievances remain unaddressed, fostering neglect and disenfranchisement among the people. The conflict between the Governor of the West Coast Region and the Brikama Area Council, and the issues between the Basse Area Council and the Central Government over a new market, exemplify this disconnect.

Diplomatic Failures

The appointment of ambassadors and diplomats is another area of grave concern. Diplomacy requires a nuanced understanding of international relations, cultural sensitivity, and strategic thinking. However, our diplomatic corps is frequently staffed by individuals whose primary qualification is political affiliation. This has led to diplomatic blunders, weakened international standing, and missed opportunities for strategic alliances and economic partnerships. Our international voice is muted, and our ability to advocate for national interests on the global stage is severely compromised, as seen in the recent recall of an ambassador and his deputy who engaged in a physical fight.

Ineffective Presidential Advisers

Presidential advisers wield significant influence over national policy and decision-making. They are expected to provide the president with sound, evidence-based advice. Unfortunately, these positions are often filled by individuals who lack the necessary experience and expertise. This has led to poorly informed policies that fail to address the root causes of our nation’s challenges. The mismanagement of key issues such as healthcare, education, and economic development can be traced back to this fundamental flaw in our governance structure. What we see in the media are divisive, immature, and childish presidential advisers who are busy defending rather than doing what they are paid for.

Mismanagement in Key Government Departments

The ripple effect of incompetence extends to the management of critical government departments. Managers in these departments play a crucial role in the implementation of policies and the efficient functioning of the public service. However, when appointments are based on patronage rather than capability, the result is a bureaucratic system riddled with inefficiencies, corruption, and mismanagement. This not only hampers service delivery but also erodes public trust in government institutions. While civil service reforms are frequently mentioned on paper, they are far from being realized in practice.

The Path Forward: Meritocracy and Accountability

The future of The Gambia depends on a radical shift towards meritocracy and accountability in public service appointments. We must prioritize competence, integrity, and a genuine commitment to public service over political loyalty. Implementing transparent and competitive selection processes for key positions can help ensure that the most qualified individuals are appointed. Additionally, regular performance evaluations and accountability mechanisms must be established to maintain high standards of governance.

The Gambia’s potential is immense, but realizing this potential requires competent and dedicated leadership at all levels of government. The wrongful appointments that have plagued our public service must be addressed with urgency and resolve. By embracing a culture of meritocracy and holding our leaders accountable, we can pave the way for a brighter, more prosperous future for all Gambians.

In conclusion, the reality of The Gambia and its people is one of resilience and hope. Despite the challenges posed by incompetent governance, there remains a collective aspiration for a better, more just society. It is incumbent upon us to demand and work towards a government that truly serves the interests of its people, ensuring that every appointment, from governors to managers, is made with the nation’s best interests at heart. Only then can we fulfill the promise of The Gambia and build a nation that reflects the strength and potential of its people.

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