9 August 2012

Gambia: Presidential Affairs Minister, Two Others Sworn-in

The minister for Presidential Affairs and National Assembly Matters was Wednesday sworn-in along with two newly appointed members of the Public Service Commission at a ceremony presided over by the Gambian leader, His Excellency Sheikh Professor Alhaji Dr Yahya Jammeh at the Cabinet room at State House in Banjul.

Minister Njogu Lamin Bah, Waka Joof and Alieu B Jallow took three oaths in accordance with the laws of the country. Administered by Ramou Cole-Ceesay, secretary to Cabinet, the new appointees took oaths of office, allegiance and secrecy. Section 71 (1) and 71 (3) of the Constitution empowers the president to appoint the minister of Presidential Affairs and National Assembly Matters and Section 172 (7) also empowers the president to appoint Public Service Commission members.

Addressing the newly sworn-in appointees, President Jammeh thanked them for accepting to take up the various responsibilities. He spoke of the importance each of the components of the government machinery plays in ensuring effective service delivery.

He said: "I must thank the chairman of the Public Service Commission because for the first time in the past two years, I have seen a rejuvenated active, transparent and dedicated Public Service Commission. And for the first time in many years, this office is being given minutes of all their meetings. Today's PSC is more real in serving the interest of the public than it used to be. It is truer today also than ever before."

According to the Gambian leader, gone are the days when the Public Service Commission will be twisting and turning people to the extent that they are discouraged. "Why wasting somebody's time whose CV has already been screened before his interview and in turn twisting and turning him, wasting his time for nothing. Is this what is expected of a Public Service Commission that is serving the interest of the people without any ulterior motive?" he queried.

President Jammeh further stated that the Public Service is not who you know, but what you know, noting that the basic principle of employing anybody into the Civil Service or whatever service, is based on what you know and not whom you know and that is the principle for which he wants to thank the PSC for taking tough decisions.

"I wouldn't be surprised if one of you [the sworn-in] has once been a victim of the then PSC recruiting system, because those who found it very tough with the then PSC were from the teaching field. That is the reality and that is what I know. So at least if you were once a victim, please don't create a new victim," he advised.

The Gambian leader further stated that nothing is more frustrating before in PSC than for one to know that he/she was qualified for a job and they would tell him or her - 'oh! You have all the qualifications but...and then you see a less qualified person being appointed over you'.

Bonding system & indiscipline

President Jammeh also noted that the level of indiscipline in the Civil Service is becoming increasingly alarming more so with regards to people that are sent for training and after they will decide not to come back. He said such behaviour is unacceptable and those found doing it should be automatically dismissed.

At that juncture, President Jammeh recommended the need for teamwork among the PSC, PMO and the Ministry of Justice so that whether one comes back or not, when the government sponsors your course outside, the individual will be pursued. "Because the system we have under Petroleum is that even if you abscond, we will fall on to a valuable property of yours," he said.

The Gambian leader went further to highlight the need to look at the bonding system, saying, "because I may not abscond but what happens if I come and feel perpetual illness pretending that they are always sick so you become indisciplined knowing that the ultimate result is going to be dismissal".

For his part, Dr Njogu L Bah,the newly sworn-in minister for Presidential Affairs and National Assembly Matters, promised to live up to expectation. He thanked President Jammeh for reposing on him another challenging responsibility, which he said is an acknowledgment of the trust and confidence he [President Jammeh] has in him.

His words: "You have done it all for me and if I do anything other than rallying behind you, supporting and working for you and the nation, then I would betray the course, the trust and confidence and if that happens, Allah will punish me.

I would also fail in all my endeavours and that is to say I wish to re-assure you of my commitment and loyalty to your vision and mission, to what you believe in and stand for. You can always count on us any time of the day on anything. You made us wear our shoes and we will always be there to work barefoot to ensure that your mission is accomplished."

Minister Bah used the opportunity to also congratulate the newly sworn-in commissioners of PSC for their new assignment, while describing the ceremony as solemn and a time for profound reflection. "We have taken the Holy Quran and taken the oaths of office and allegiance. Our appointments to the various functions indicate the trust and confidence you reposed on all of us and I have no doubt that we will rise to the expectation considering the good track record and wealth of experience each one of us brings to job," he said.

Minister Bah then went on to stress that the unprecedented stride this country has made over the years is made possible thanks to President Jammeh's leadership style. He also opined that the accomplishment of the noble ideas of the president would not have been realised much faster if they had all not come together genuinely in support of the national development agenda.

He continued: "It is often said that the team does not only win the championship if its players are working from different agendas. Therefore, the onus is on you and all of us entrusted with the leadership role by the president to genuinely work as a team in our various departments with dedication and commitment for the rapid realisation of various mandates which are underpinned both horizontally and vertically.

The task, duties and responsibilities of our various sectors are huge for any one person to handle alone. We can make a great progress by inspiring and rallying our staff through dedication and empowerment based on professional job distribution schemes rather than camps and favoritism. No nation can achieve socio-economic development without heavy doors of discipline and patriotism by its public servants.

As leaders and ministers it is our responsibilities to ensure maintenance of discipline and decorum at work place at all times. It is important to recognise and reward good performance but at the same time we must not sideway from condemning and sanctioning indiscipline when it occurs no matter from which quarter, unless this is effectively reinforced in the service. The maslaha syndrome, which is unhelpful will become the order of the day with devastating negative impact on productivity and institutional performance.

The prudent utilisation of resources is critical to management function, therefore, allocation of resources among other things as managers is critical to decrease as much as possible objectivity in decision-making while enhancing team work objectivity, empathy, integrity and transparency in our official functions. We must always be guided by our general orders, service rules and policies and other status of government as we execute our various mandates."

The Presidential Affairs minister further stated that the strengthening of the development gains made is the duty of every patriotic Gambian especially for those of them in leadership responsibility. He noted that the president's development objective is geared towards improving the quality of life for every Gambian irrespective of religion, ethnicity or political affiliation.

He added: "Your Excellency, we will continue to count on your wise guidance and leadership and support. We are ready to work with the entire Civil Service, the entire government machinery and the National Assembly including all other sectors to make sure that we all drive together to the promised land and to the moment where you can deliver the city-state that you yarned for this country."

Waka Joof on behalf of his colleague PSC members thanked President Jammeh for having trust and confidence in them to serve as commission members. He said the Public Service Commission over the years has undergone a huge transformation and has improved its services drastically.

He expressed gratitude to the leadership for giving them this opportunity, assuring him that they will do their utmost to execute their responsibilities to the best of their abilities without fear or favour, with Allah's guidance and assistance.

For his part, the chairman of the Public Service Commission, GO Bright, also thanked President Jammeh for giving them the opportunity to serve as commission members. "We are appreciative of the confidence you have in us in renewing our mandate and we assure you that we will hold firm and live up to expectation in accordance with our oaths," the PSC boss said, while welcoming the two newly sworn-in members to the commission, who have rendered selfless service to the nation and retired honourably from the civil service.

Like other previous speakers, the Basic and Secondary Education minister, Fatou Lamin Faye also hailed the Gambian leader for the three appointments. She described them as people that are trustworthy and hardworking, saying "I have no doubt that they will live up to expectation".

Teneng Mba Jaiteh, the minister for Petroleum also spoke at the ceremony attended by other Cabinet ministers.

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