Lessons from Ernest Aubee and the SSHFC panel:
Need for the carrot-and-stick management approach

Dear editor,

It is an extremely high honour for the UDP-led Coalition Government of the Republic of The Gambia to be blessed with two recent issues, all of major significance to the new Gambian society that is being created.

The two-related issues are, a) the Partnership Alliance for the Control of Aflatoxin in Africa (PACA) Award to Ernest Aubee, an outstanding, Saintly Gambian Head of the Agriculture Division of the ECOWAS Commission in Abuja, Nigeria. Ernest is the recipient of a PACA Award in recognition of his many activities in the ECOWAS region as well as in the continent for mitigating the harmful effects of Aflatoxin on the livelihood of the people and for the development of the ECOWAS Aflatoxin Action Plan.

Up to this point in his working life, Ernest has been a very consistent and successful development facilitator and administrator. It is quite apparent that, in recognition of his many activities culminating in the presentation of an award by PACA, which has proven illuminating not only for our countrymen but also, and to a greater degree, to women/men in both public and private life abroad, interested in policy and international development during this grave period of climate change, more specifically, where poverty, agro-rural development and human health are involved.

The ward by PACA and the pictures of the award ceremony in Dakar, Senegal have made Gambia and concerned Gambians really proud of Ernest. Nothing can better illustrate his love for humanity and commitment to the direction of human progress than this award, which speaks of his concern and dedication. The wonder is that, so much has been done by this gentleman’s gentleman in so brief a time.

To our dear Ernest, we continue to pray to the Unseen Witness to every deed, to witness more of such. We are very proud of you.

The second and related issue is the submission of the report by the panel, established by His Excellency, President Adama Barrow to investigate the crisis at the Social Security and Housing Finance Corporation (SSHFC). Knowing the pedigree of the panelists, in terms of their “home training,” education, service to self, nation, humanity and Allah, their recommendation was a foregone conclusion.

It is with utmost concern that, the atmosphere created by the protesting staff starkly expressed in their march to the State House to present their grievances to the President of the Republic against their Managing Director, was uniquely disappointing.

The protesters were openly contemptuous of the “tolerance” of the liberal democracy in existence, which extended to them the very rights that they aimed to abolish. This was based on their faulty reasoning that their protest “not to work” and to prevent willing “workers from entering the SSHFC premises,” will be met by the beleaguered political authority by ineffectual appeals for calm and sobriety, while they wait for the Exit of the MD. Furthermore, they were, all the more, hoping to dramatize to the world the impotence of the government when confronted by protesters; these, they hoped for in vain and were seriously disappointed.

But this very unfortunate act of the protesters and the way it was scholarly investigated by the Panelists par excellence, should offer us no easy comforts. Vigilance and a determined will on the part of the political authority are most imperative now, given our prevailing unruly environment.

Protests/strikes are not a picnic. And this is best heeded as well by those whose impatience for reforms, no matter how sincere, can lead them to supporting causes that actually mock their good intentions. However much certain sectors of society may glamorize it, protests/strikes are better done through proper consultations with the right authorities.

The constitution, General Order (GO), labour laws, and various service rules notwithstanding: “employees in the civil service and state operating enterprises should be made plainly to understand, that there are certain great principles of government which have been made the basis of our maintenance of individual freedom, which have been well documented and, are, available for reference. There are also certain practical rules of government and service rules for state operating enterprises which are essential to the great principles of liberty and law. It is essential, therefore, that these rules of government be established and maintained for the sake of our collective liberty and happiness.”

The panelists are respectable senior citizens, who have respectfully responded to the nation’s service call and, have given the best that can be offered, under the circumstances. It is, therefore, incumbent on the President of the Republic, given the high level of indiscipline in the country, to use the “stick and carrot” management tool to implement the recommendations by the panel to the letter, without reservation.

In the meantime, I contribute this short note and its very scanty knowledge, mindful of James Madison’s insight that “a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power knowledge gives.”

Suruwa B. Wawa Jaiteh

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