Since the sudden demise of Gambia’s Vice-President, Dr. Badara Joof, there have been wild rumours about his replacement; however, it appears that President Adama Barrow, who has the constitutional prerogative to appoint a Vice-President, is not in haste to name one, thus far. When the President paid a visit to the bereaved family to offer his condolences, he spoke at the event, touting the virtues of Mr. Joof and admitting that a replacement with similar expectations would be challenging. Among the most important criteria that the Mr. Barrow highlighted that informed his decision to tap Mr. Joof as his Vice-President is that the latter did not have his eyes set on his seat, in addition to his knowledge, integrity, experience, competence, diligence and selflessness. This is probably why the President is taking his time to find a suitable replacement for Mr. Joof, which suggests that the wait could be longer than expected.
The Office of Vice-President is essential for Section 70 (1) of the Constitution provides that: “ There shall be a Vice-President of The Gambia who shall be the principal assistant of the President in the discharge of his or her executive functions and shall exercise such other functions as may be conferred on him or her by this Constitution or assigned to him or her by the President.” Meanwhile, section (5) (c ) of the same Constitution stipulates that the President shall appoint a Vice-President in case of death.
Considering the aforementioned and the vacancy of the position of Vice-President, I believe it is paramount that the President expedite the process of finding and naming a new Vice-President to coordinate government affairs, particularly since the Vice-President is considered to be the middleman between the Executive and the Legislative authorities. The country is facing numerous challenges that need to be tackled head-on, including the skyrocketing inflation and attendant soaring commodity prices, the rise of crime rate, and the dilapidated health care system, to mention a few. A technocrat, level-headed and competent vice president can make a difference in overcoming the challenges mentioned above. While the Constitution does not specify any specific deadline for naming a Vice-President, in case of a death, the sooner the better.
By Basidia M Drammeh