Sunday, 17 December 2017

Open Letter to the Permanent Secretary Mr. Pateh Jah , PMO on the Ministry of Agriculture Saga (Part.1)

Please be reminded that the Personnel Management Office is an agency of The Government of The Gambia, which is  under the Office of the President which is responsible for; the administration of the General Orders, the recruitment of volunteers and technical assistance personnel, public service training and staff development policies and implementation, staff inspections and organization, formulation and review of the schemes of service policy for and administration of pensions and gratuities personnel statistics, and manpower budgeting and control.

It is that regard I write to you to remind you of the role played by the Minister of Agriculture as per the contribution to our GDP. The said ministry is the backbone of our nation, therefore it need to be led by technocrats who have the knowledge, skills and know how not only with words but with action.   As such will increase agricultural output, meet the food requirements of the population from the land of Gambia, provide gainful employment and income for the agricultural labour force, and generate foreign exchange through value-added agriculture related activities.

Of recent reports emanating from the Ministry of Agriculture have it that Minister O.J. Jallow has rejected the appointment of PS Ousman Jammeh on the grounds of continuity of programmes at the ministry. The question one might asked will be O.J who is a seasonal Agriculturalist why is he rejecting the appointment of Mr. Jammeh?

The most important thing is to note that the argument is a false premise and the real premise should that Mr Ousman Jammeh was a former Civil Servant who was parachuted from regional Director to PS under the former regime, even above people that were senior to him both in qualifications and experience but that he retired as a Civil Servant to become appointed a Minister under Jammeh before falling out with Jammeh and ending up being detained for 1 year. So the question is whether the Civil Service should continue to bring back people from outside and deny people in the hierarchy their natural progression?

During the last days of the PPP, retired heads of institutions retired and natural subordinates took over and some or a few were appointed advisers. Under Jammeh there was a marked lack of adherence to the Civil Service rules and the mixing up of political and public services.

Ousman Jammeh is a retired Civil Servant and former Minister of Agriculture trying to come back under contract and Hon. Minister Omar A. Jallow is right to be concerned at having a former Minister as his PS and is more comfortable with a Civil Servant than a former political appointee.

There is a need for one to understand the meaning and synopsis of political appointee and Civil Servant. Assan came to Ministry of Agriculture with a Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Engineering and a Master of Science in Agronomy from Kuban State Agricultural University, in the Russian Federation at a time when we had nothing more than 5 Master’s degree holders in most of the institutions.

I for a person meet Assan in different occasions when I used to work for the Government, I realized that he is a great man who understand the said Ministry as he spend all his carrier there. The issue here is, it is not that O.J is trying to Jallowfied the MoA but trying to give the job to the jobs friend as that is the only way we can make The Gambia self-food sufficiency. 

Mr. Jallow has 23 years professional and work experience in the field of Agriculture and agronomy, working and managing agricultural projects and rising from the position of Agric Officer to Deputy Director/ Head of Soil and Water Management Services and a Deputy Permanent Secretary & Coordinator for CILSS in The Gambia.

Since 1994 starting with the IFAD and African Development Bank funded Agricultural Services Project where he undertook the training and formation of 5000 farmers into Water User Groups and a Water User Association.

As Deputy Head of the National Agronomy Section of The Gambia, Mr Jallow played a key role in the design and implementation of the Lowlands Agricultural Development Project as well as the successor Participatory Integrated Watershed Management Project.

Mr Jallow worked as a Young Professional with the FAO, as National Counterpart for the Indonesian Farmer to Farmer Assistance Programme which included the design and training of farmers and the setup of a Farmer Training school in rural Gambia.

Variously, his tasks and duties as National Agronomist and Project Manager include and covered
Analyzing all aspects of the agricultural investment project cycle including feasibility assessment, design, appraisal, and project evaluation in developing country situations. Identifying agriculture sector development needs and recommending practical strategies to fulfill those needs. Analyzing agriculture-related aspects of projects such as infrastructure or financial sector development, and recommend strategies to ensure the agriculture sector of the country supports the activity in a sustainable manner. Drafting project or project activity descriptions for inclusion in the Investment Memorandum or Cabinet documents. Providing detailed written reports of findings and compilation of documents to donors and government. Making public presentations on agriculture-related issues and/or projects. Conducting 'Project Activity Oversight' operations in accordance with the Statement of Work for that activity. Coordinating with the relevant government agency, civil society, private sector, donor, and Project Management Unit staffs to facilitate Activity Oversight operations. Evaluating progress of Projects, Project Activities, and Sub-Activities. Providing detailed and comprehensive written reports on progress of a Project, Project Activities, and Sub-Activities to the Authorities.

I submit to you that Mr. Jallow played a key role in the design of the Gambia National Agricultural Investment Plan, which is a holistic look at Agricultural investment and development covering not only Agriculture but the requisite social and public infrastructure such as roads, markets, logistics and schools and clinics necessary to ensure that the lives and livelihoods of farmers and the whole cycle benefit and improve as intended the investments.

Mr Jallow is very familiar with the modus operandi of many international funding agencies such as the African Development Bank, IFAD, FAO and the World Bank and also the Financial Instructions (FI) governing the operations of Government. As CONACILS, he is the Coordinator of CILSS activities and projects in The Gambia and represented THE Gambia at CILSS meetings.

Until his appointment as Permanent Secretary Mr Jallow was one of the longest serving and most senior staff at the Ministry of Agriculture and recognized at Expert on Rice Agronomy and Policy and Programmes and a trusted adviser to the Minister and former Permanent Secretary and has a reputation for impartiality and professionalism.

In conclusion I will recommend for Mr. Jammeh’s appointment be rescind and redeployed to The Gambia College as a Lecturer since the College is facing a shortage of Lecturers in the said field.

To be continued……………

By: Saidina Alieu Jarjou

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