When President Adama Barrow named veteran civil servant and renowned educationist Dr. Badara Joof, as his VP, in his Cabinet reshuffle, the decision caught many observers by surprise, particularly since the Cabinet lineup was shrouded in secrecy. His appointment received mixed reviews; while the move was applauded in some quarters as bold, some critics have lowered the expectations considering his modest performance as Minister of Higher Education, Science & Technology.
Mr. Joof, in his first comments as VP, during the swearing-in ceremony of the new Cabinet members, challenged ministers to tackle burning issues, such as the skyrocketing prices of basic commodities and the worsening security situation in the country, among others. The comments signaled his desire to set the government’s agenda in motion.
VP’s Joof thundering remarks at the Cabinet retreat at Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara’s Conference Center have set tongues wagging across the country and beyond for his grasp of policy and candid call for attitudinal change to achieve the government’s reform agenda. The Vice President did not mince his words in outlining key priority areas affecting the citizens such as high cost of living, security, lands, environment, education..etc., challenging each concerned minister to think out of the box in order to address the extraordinary challenges. Foreign policy and tourism were under his radar, questioning the policy direction and modus apprandi of those ministries.
Mr. Joof stressed that the Gambian people have high expectations after giving President Barrow an unassailable mandate.
It was quite apparent that the comments had raised eyebrows at the hall, with Joof noting that he didn’t mind getting sacked for telling the truth.
His remarks will certainly not go down well in some quarters that would undoubtedly be up in arms to undermine him and nip his reformist agenda in the bud.
The likes of VP Joof need support from every well-meaning and patriotic Gambian. It behooves the President to empower reform-oriented officials within his Government and equip them with the tools to effect the desired change. President Barrow should make mandate-delivery his guiding principle to maintain or relieve public officials. Above all, he should lend his ear to the truth-tellers and ignore the sycophants and boot leakers. Henceforth, any minister of State official found wanting should be shown the door.
The Gambia, as a nation, cannot develop or prosper without the officials graduating from self-denial to self-indulgence to address the challenges facing the country. It’s high time that the Gambia turned its back on the disastrous Maslaha syndrome that has retarded the country since its independence.
On the other hand, the VP, as the President’s right-hand man in coordinating the work of ministries must match his words with tangible actions by ensuring that government institutions take heed or face accountability.
Extraordinary circumstances call for extraordinary measures. “You cannot make an omelet without breaking the egg,” said the VP.