THE POWER TO APPOINT EXECUTIVE COORDINATORS GAZETTED AND THE IMPLICATIONS

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Gazette Number 47 Vol. 140 dated 5th September 2023 Notice No. 139/2023 gave notice as follows:

EXECUTIVE ORDER FOR THE CREATION OF NEW GOVERNMENT OFFICES PURSUANT TO SECTION 80 OF THE CONSTITUTION

I, Adama Barrow, President of the Republic of The Gambia, acting under section 80 of the Constitution hereby constitutes the public office of Executive Coordinator. An Executive Coordinator may be appointed for any Region, Municipality or City (herein after referred to as ‘area’) based on the specific need for enhanced coordination of delivery of Central Government services in the said area.

An Executive Coordinator shall have the following functions:

  1. Serve as the principal representative of the President of the Republic and the Central Government in that specific area;
  2. Monitor and ensure the efficient provision and coordination of Central Government services in the area;
  3. Coordinate with local authorities and traditional rulers in the area on matters of public interest relevant to the implementation of Central Government policies;
  4. Draw the attention of the relevant authorities to any matters within their areas that may require the intervention of such relevant authorities;
  5. Play a central role in the popularization and dissemination of Central Government activities, programmes and policies in the area;
  6. Address the local or traditional authorities from time to time on central government activities, programmes and policies;
  7. Identify any deviation from national laws and central government policies within the area and inform the relevant authority of such a deviation;
  8. Carry such other functions as may be assigned by the President.

The President may from time to time appoint persons to fill the position of Executive Coordinator in any given area. Terms of service and remuneration shall be determined by the President in consultation with the Public Service Commission. 

This notice mentions the creation of the office of executive coordinator but implies that the holders of the office may be appointed. In short, the public office of executive coordinator is left hanging. However, if the president appoints an executive coordinator without an appropriation bill or supplementary appropriation bill containing the office of executive coordinator approved by the national assembly they would be left without personal emoluments and other allowances and benefits.

This confirms that creation of public office under section 80 of the Constitution cannot be unilaterally done at the back of the National Assembly. It is not clear how the advice came but it needs rethinking.

Fundamentally, city and municipal councils are part of the local (regional) government structure under the Local Government Act. Under this Act it is anticipated that the government will ensure the devolution and the centralization of certain services such as education, house, etc, if they could be better administered and managed by the area, municipal or city council.

In that regard, Central Government could have two options in coordinating central government services that have bearing to the councils. One option is to have a regional permanent secretary under the ambit of the ministry of regional government and lands or create offices under the Local Government Act to carry out such functions under the Local Government Act.

In any case, bringing a bill to the national assembly to amend the Act to attain parliamentary participation in the making of the law is the efficient, consistent and effective way of exercising the powers granted under 80 of the Constitution. To create offices in any other way could lead to the absurdity in the creation of offices without the power to remunerate them.

Foroyaa will do a more comprehensive analysis between central government and local government to make a case for local government reform to be published in a supplement.