The Office of the President noted and does appreciate concerns raised by Counsel Lamin Darboe’s article published in the Standard newspaper, on November 13th, 2023. The article, however, overlooked crucial aspects of the Constitution in the governance setup.
The President, by the powers granted by Section 80 of the Constitution, acted well within the legal framework in the introduction of the offices of the Area Coordinators in Banjul and KMC. This section empowers the President to establish public offices for The Gambia, make appointments, and terminate them, subject to Constitutional provisions and Acts of the National Assembly. The President exercised this authority by signing an Order, duly gazetted.
Addressing another point in Counsel Darboe’s article, the claim that these appointments interfere with Local Government administration is not accurate. The roles of the Executive Coordinators are outlined, including representing the President and the Central Government, monitoring service provision coordination, and collaborating with local authorities and traditional rulers on matters of public interest aligned with central government policies.
Furthermore, the Local Government Act itself, specifically in Section 49(3), specifies certain functions exclusive to the Central Government under Part I of Schedule II. This underscores that central government officials continue to have national functions in Local Government Administrative Areas.
It is essential to understand that The Gambia remains a unitary State, not a federation. Therefore, the country operates under one government, with overarching authority throughout. Local Councils are not separate government entities.
Mr. Darboe’s article, unfortunately, misinterprets the rationale behind the creation and subsequent appointment of Executive Coordinators by His Excellency the President. The offices of the Executive Coordinators support the implementation of government policies in the regions.
The reintroduction of these offices directly responds to the concerns highlighted in the article, specifically emphasizing the enhanced decentralization of public services to bring them closer to the people. Historically, the Governor’s Offices were situated in Banjul and Bakau.