President Adama Barrow after 11 months of observing and learning firmly asserted his authority making one thing clear: he is in charge of his administration and no one else.
Barrow had flexed his muscles numerous, instilling financial discipline, banning directors and permanent secretaries from flying business class, and warning against unwarranted post-electoral skirmishes in the southwest that left one person dead.
Most people viewed Mr. Barrow as a weak leader but the president is an observant man who listens attentively, thinks decisions through and is firm and principled.
In a surprise move last week, Barrow gave his bombastic homeland security minister, Mai Ahmad Fatty the marching orders just days after Fatty unloaded a crude verbal tirade against Lt. Gen. Cham.
Barrow gave Mai Ahmad Fatty the country’s law enforcement chief job as a tough-talking alter ego. When the protest in Kanilai happened, Fatty instead of Barrow addressed the nation, wagging his fingers, warning that those found wanting will be “consumed by the law.”
Barrow has confidence in Fatty, who had the audacity to unanimously declare coalition spokesperson, Halifa Sallah fired in the tail end of the political impasse. Fatty was with Mr. Barrow in Dakar and was his closest advisor.
President Barrow must have good reasons for firing such a trusted ally. The president is not the man that makes bias and impulsive decisions.
It is not too far-fetched to say that it is now clear to anyone in Barrow’s government, especially the politicians in his cabinet they will be shown the door “for good reasons” if they do not do their job. But Barrow will not also sack people just because you disagree with him.
Barrow has empowered his senior officials and assured them of control but will cut them out if they play politics and put his legacy at risk.
He has encouraged dissent in his administration and promises to stand up for those that have different views in his government.
Barrow is quelling the chaos that has defined, distracted and often derailed past leaders and could be following in the footsteps of his neighbor, Senegal’s President Macky Sall.
Everyone has job security unlike in Jammeh’s government were hiring and firing was rampant. However, no one is guaranteed to be a fixture of this administration simply because their political parties backed Barrow.
If they do not do right by Gambians, they are sure to be a transitory figure who created an opportunity for Barrow to undertake the far-reaching shake-up intended to purge the government of politicians pushing their own agenda for the next presidential election rather than that of the nation.
None of the politicians should make a mistake to undermine Mr. Barrow. Being fired from his cabinet can be detrimental to anyone’s political career. Resign if you see it coming.
This is for those that were not wise enough like Sallah to become a parliamentarian to push his agenda but wanted the prestige of being a state minister. You can’t have it both ways.
While Mr. Barrow imposes more discipline over what had been an unruly and inefficient decision-making and communications process by some in his government, it is important to note that the rise and fall of Mai Ahmad Fatty highlight how Barrow has stepped up and is shaping the State House.
Vice President Fatoumata Tambajang and Foreign Minister Ousainou Darboe persuaded President Barrow to keep Mai Fatty in the government, somewhere far from The Gambia. He has been deployed to Foreign Service and Fatty says he has no iota of bitterness over his sacking.
Well, President Adama Barrow has asserted his authority at all levels, exercising his constitutional powers to hire and fire and declined to give an explanation for his first sacking. Guess what, the man that’s fired wants you to respect.