Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Cabinet changes in Gambia

As Jammeh axed 4 ministers
Gambian president, Yahya Jammeh, has sacked four of his cabinet ministers, according to report aired on the Gambia Radio and Television Services, Friday evening, February 5, 2010.
The victims of Jammeh’s latest hiring and firing spree are Nancy Njie, Tourism and Culture minister; Ismaila Sambou, Local Government and Lands minister; Antouman Saho, minister of Fisheries, Water Resources and National Assembly Matters; and Lamin Bojang, Works and Infrastructure.
The report stated that the sacked ministers were been relieved of their duties with effect from Thursday 4th January, 2010.
According to the same press release, six new ministers have been appointed to take the place of the dismissed officials as well as some outstanding ministerial portfolios President Yahya Jammeh has finally decided to let go.
Dr Momodou Tangara, the chairman of the University of the Gambia Governing Council, technically the highest authority at the country’s highest institution of learning, has been appointed Minister of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology, giving him an even bigger say. This ministry has for some time been part of President Jammeh’s accruing portfolios, as was the Ministry of Communication and Information Infrastructures, which is now going to be manned by Alhagie A. Cham. Mr Cham was until this new development the permanent secretary at the ministry of Communication, information and Information Technology, which has apparently been renamed.
Lamin Kaba Bajo, who until now has been the country’s ambassador to the Islamic Republic of Iran, is the new Minister of Fisheries, Water Resources and National Assembly Matters. He replaces Antouman Saho. Mr Bajo represents what is known as the core of recycled persons in today’s Gambia. He served as Interior minister from 1995 to 1997; then ambassador of Gambia to Saudi Arabia from 2002 to 2005. He was also the country's foreign minister from October 2005 to 27 October 2006.
Babucarr Jallow, little known, is new Minister of Trade, Industry and Employment, a position that has been vacant since the transfer of its last occupant, Abdou Colley, to the Finance ministry. Fatou Mass Jobe is the new Minister of Tourism and Culture. She is among the few Gambians who have made their names household names even without being part of government. With years in the private sector, for the most part in the banking industry, Mrs Jobe comes with a wealth of experience into the country’s already dwindling tourism sector, which was once a mainstay of the economy. Replacing Ismaila Sambou as Minister of Local Government and Lands is Pierre Tamba, formerly Gambia's ambassador to Cuba and also another little known figure in Gambian politics.
The dispatch went on to say that the portfolio of the Ministry of Works, Construction and Infrastructure has been assigned to the Office of the President with effect from Thursday 4th February 2010.
“All ministers are urged to live up to expectations and ensure maximum delivery on national development programmes,” the release warned, adding that there will be no room for complacency and no compromise for non performance at all ministries.
The appointment of this new batch of ministers, the release concludes, took effect from the 1st February. As has been a characteristic of the Jammeh administration, no reasons were forwarded for these latest sacking. But given this warning at the end of the statement, it is safe to deduce that these ministers have been sacked based on their failure to perform, at least to the expectation of the Gambian president.
It is interesting to note, however, that Ismaila Sambou and Antouman Saho, both of whom earned their positions thanks to their recognized hard work in the ruling APRC party, were apparently representing Yahya Jammeh at the just concluded Magal religious ceremony in Touba when their sack letters were been done. Nancy Njie’s appointment has ever been shrouded in dispute among many Gambians given her rather shadowy qualifications for a job at a ministry that constitutes so very important a part of Gambia’s economy.
Lamin Bojang, whose Ministry of Works, Construction and Infrastructure has been assigned to the Office of the President, effectively broke record by staying on this long. But that has mainly been attributed to his style of keeping low profile, a fact many Jammeh loyalists appear to be ignorant about, resulting in their quick down fall.

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