FOROYAA Newspaper (Serrekunda)

Gambia: Rule of Law Starts With Compliance With the Constitution Should a Minister Be Appointed Head of the Civil Service?

In this day and age, it is best for a Government to establish a Ministry for Good Governance and Human Rights to enable a country to give prominence and adhere to the standards of best practice in democratic governance.

Foroyaa has pointed out that if the provisions of Section 168 of the Constitution are fully understood it would become apparent that a Minister cannot be appointed Head of the Civil service.

Secondly, the Public Service Commission should be consulted for advice. It follows that if the Public Service Commission has given advice for a Minister to be appointed Head of the Civil Service its competence would be put into question.

Let us give irrefutable proof to confirm our contention that a Minister should not be appointed Head of the Civil Service.

Section 168 reads:

(1) "The President, acting in accordance with the advice of the Public Service Commission, shall appoint a person holding an office in the Public Service on permanent terms to be the Head of the Civil Service. The Head of the Civil Service shall be the competent authority for the Civil Service.

(2) The Head of the civil Service shall not hold any other office of profit or emolument in the service of The Gambia."

What are the lessons? First and foremost, it is written in black and white that the person to be appointed Head of the Civil Service must hold an office in the public service on a permanent basis. A Minister is not considered to be holding an office in the public service on a permanent basis. This is obvious to anyone who reads Section 166 subsection (4) which states that

"In this constitution an office in the Public Service does not include the office of President, Vice President, Speaker, and Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, Minister and Member of the National Assembly."

This is the first point. Secondly, the position of Minister is a position of emolument in the service of The Gambia, while Section 168 bars any person appointed Head of the Civil Service from holding any such office of emolument. This is the second point.

Thirdly, Section 168 states that the President should act in accordance with the advice of the Public Service Commission to appoint a Head of the Civil Service.

It is difficult to believe that the Public Service Commission would advice the President to appoint Dr. Njogu Bah to be Head of the Civil Service while appointed as Minister for Presidential Affairs and his replacement by Mr. Madi Jatta as Head of the Civil Service and Deputy Minister as well as his replacement by Dr Njogu Bah, while assuming the presidential portfolio again as well as retaining that of Minister of Information and Information Technology within a span of one month?

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