Gambia: Commonwealth Indicts Gambia Gov't for Poor Communication
A Commonwealth mission to The Gambia has faulted the efforts of the Gambia government in effectively communicating the challenges it faces to the public.
This is disclosed in a report on The Gambia, which will receive its public release on the 16th April at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London. The report which was made available to Gunjur News Online in advance cited: “By January 2017 overwhelming power had been centralised in the Office of the President. The Barrow Administration has taken action to decentralising decision making. The Office of the President has not been successful, in effectively communicating with the Gambian population the challenges faced by the government, and its successes. Additionally, the security arrangements around the President have caused some resentment among the security services and reinforced the impression of foreign influence and a detached President. The current government deserves credit for a significant move towards a collaborative cabinet system of government. A priority has been given by the Office of the President, and the Secretary-General and Head of the Civil Service, Dawda Docka Fadera, to decentralising, and in the President’s words ‘decentralise’ government away from the State House. Ministers now make the big decisions related to their portfolios and then bring these to the fortnightly cabinet meetings. One Minister did confirm there had not been a cabinet meeting for a month prior to our visit, but in the main the system appears to be working. Of concern is the lack of gender balance within the cabinet, only four of the 18 ministers are women. With women making up more than half the population this is not sufficiently representative”.
President Adama Barrow with Commonwealth delegation
This represents a searing indictment on the press and media operations of Amie Bojang who is Director of Press and Public matters for the president whose failures led to reinforcement with a British National embedded at State House. The report maintained: “In a number of our meetings people complained about a lack of visibility from the President. While there is clearly a much freer media, the government as a whole has not been using it effectively to communicate with its citizens. A part of this has been a lack of visibility of the President, with one person commenting to us that they had never heard him speak for more than a minute or so, and he gave very short answers when questioned by the media. Our meeting with His Excellency did much to dispel these concerns. Acknowledging the issue around communication, the United Nations has now embedded a UK national within the Office of the President to support communications, and the President’s Director of Press is now giving weekly press briefings. The Ministry of Communications undertakes regular cabinet briefings, and there is a strategy for information management and dissemination in place. Additionally, there was an open session held for the Media during which there was a session with President Barrow. The hang-over of the Jammeh System has also led to a continuing belief that access to President is the only way to get things done. It was clear to us that the President believed in a more cooperative style of government, empowerment of ministers and a collective cabinet governance. We acknowledge though that there is resentment from those who have been directed to other ministries or not had their correspondence returned or diverted”.
The full Commonwealth Report on Gambia can be viewed here: Commonwealth Report on Gambia