Government institutions were skewed to serve only Yahya Jammeh then and his cabal, not the Gambian people. That is why it was galling when the coalition government of Adama Barrow took over and did no major rejig of government departments.
Some government departments functions and responsibilities overlap, making it difficult to achieve the overall objective of government.
Take the Ministry of Trade, Employment and Regional Integration for instance and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Regional Integration falls under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
A simple Ministry of Employment, Enterprise and Innovation will do, and Regional Integration be added under the Foreign Affairs Ministry.
We don’t want long names besides.
A simple Foreign Affairs Ministry will suffice, and Regional Integration and Gambians Abroad can be separate departments under the rubrics of Foreign Affairs.
That is the standard practice. Communications and Infrastructure are diametrically opposed, and yet that is how it still is.
National Assembly Matters under the Fisheries Department, when a special department should be created within the cabinet to deal with National Assembly matters called the National Assembly Unit or call it what you will.
Lumping the National Assembly matters under the fisheries department was a classic Jammeh under-hand operation to downgrade the relevance of the National Assembly.
Let us have a big, bold and brave root and branch shake-up of institutions to better serve Gambians.
Let us have elected Mayors in all the Regions of The Country
There is a political, economic and fairness case to be made about having elected mayors in all the five regions of The Gambia.
Firstly, it is not fair the people of the Greater Banjul Area – Banjul and Kanifing – elect their mayors, while the people of LRR, NBR, CRR, URR and the West Coast Region have governors selected for them by the President.
The governor becomes more answerable to the president than the people he or she should serve. This is a relic of the past and it should be scalped.
As the Hambia National Think Tank (GNTT) thinks about this reform, they should replace the name too from governor to mayor of the chief executive of these regions.
Governor signifies an authority overseeing a huge swathe of a region on behalf of a higher authority. It best suits a federal system.
Economically, when we have elected mayors in all the regions we can rebalance The Gambian economy away from the Greater Banjul Area, making the regions an economic powerhouse.
The Local Government Act of 2002 gives regional government’s sound executive, tax-raising and legislative powers. They can come up with policies around these areas that work.
After all, they are best placed to know local challenges and solve them. Politically, the people from the regions, with all these going for them, will be engaged in politics more, energized and enthused, not be hemmed out as itty-bitty political participants.
On foreign policy, our standing was diminished as a force by the previous government, as it engaged in halitosis diplomatic vandalism.
Our diplomacy was at best then a megaphone diplomacy – saber-rattling against nations – and at worst it was tilting at windmills. We have a big opportunity to reset that.
Instead of a foreign policy driven by impulse, we should anchor our foreign policy on the quartet-pronged values of democracy, development and uphold and respect international laws and make the Gambia open for Foreign Direct Investment.
To keep a country moving in the right direction does not require a magic wand. It takes an innovative, sensible, high-headed and high-minded ideas to put a nation on a full-throttle gear.
A compassionate leadership, economic competence, open government, transparent to the people is what The Gambia needs.
Let us not be trapped into the lifeless, mindless, soulless and broad generalities of change the country needs.
This is your moment members of the GNTT. Do not fret and frazzle over your task.
Help shape The Gambia with your much-awaited report, and whiles you are at it regain its former lost glory, as a beacon of hope across Africa and the world.
Amadou Camara is former Editor of the Standard Newspaper and communications officer of the National Youth Parliament in The Gambia.