By Yunus Saliu
Mourning the late vice president Badara A Joof who passed away in New Delhi, India on the 18th of January and was buried on the 23rd of January 2023 in Banjulinding, West Coast Region The Gambia, many Gambians heartbeat for another competent and charismatic replacement for the position of the vice president to fill the vacuum he left behind.
The position of vice president was provided for in the 1970 constitution for the first time and “when the Gambia became a sovereign Republic in April 1970 late Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara who was the Prime Minister then automatically become the first Gambian president. He was promoted to the Executive President and has the task of appointing a vice president,” Hassoum Ceesay, an erudite historian and curator explained.
He continued, late President Jawara then appointed Sheriff Mustapha Dibba, born in 1937 died in 2008 as the first vice president of the new Republic of The Gambia, appointed in April 1970 and served till September 1972.
“According to the 1970 constitution, the vice president was the Leader (Capital L) of the government Business (Capital B) in the House of Representatives as the parliament was called in 1970. This means that he represented the President in the Parliament, one of his main tasks,” Mr. Ceesay stated.
However, in September 1972 Aassan Musa Camara was appointed and become the second vice president of the Gambia and served till 1977 when Alieu Badara Njie was appointed as the third Vice President of the Gambia served from May 1977 to the summer of 1978 and resigned.
“When he resigned Assan Musa Camara bounced back. He was re-appointed to replace him and he served until April 1982. Honourable BB Darbo was then appointed as the Vice President and served from 1982 till 1992 while Saikou Sabally took the baton as the new vice president and served till the army coup of July 1994 take place.
“So in the First Republic, with late President Alhaji Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara five people appointed and served as the country Vice President under him,” Mr Ceesay noted.
Furthermore, the historian reflected on the coup and Second Republic saying with the successful coup led by former President Yahya AJJ Jammeh “there was no vice president appointed hence the constitution was suspended so the coup leader appointed a vice chairman of the Armed Forces Provisional Ruling Council, Sanna B Sabally, who had served until January 1995 and then replaced with Edward Singhateh and served until March 1997 when Isatou Njie Saidy was appointed as the vice president and served till January 2017.”
In this third Republic, he said, President Adama Barrow has so far appointed four vice presidents in the name of “Aja Fatoumatta CM Jallow-Tambajang in February 2017 – June 2018, Lawyer Ousainu Darbo in June 2018 to March 2019, Dr. Isatou Touray in March 2019 till May 2022 as the late Badara A Joof appointed to be the 10th vice president of The Gambia and served till his demise on the 18th January 2023. And now the country is waiting for a new appointee to occupy the enormous task position.”
As the country mourns the late Badara A Joof, “everyone has come to realize more of the importance of the position in any democratically elected government. All the vice presidents under the past two presidents held other Ministerial portfolios with their VP position. Sheriff Dibba was Minister of Finance, Hassan Camara – Minister of External Affairs, AB Njie – Minister of State, BB Darbo – Minister of Youth, Sports, and Culture, Saikou Sabally – Minister of Defence and and Dr Isatou Njie Said – Minister of Women’s Affairs.”
However, in this third Republic “all the appointed former Vice Presidents, except Dr Isatou Touray and late VP Joof, also held a ministerial position with their vice presidency position but rose from Ministers to Vice Presidents,” the Historian stated.
Taking into consideration the importance of the position, the Country’s “VP performs ceremonial, parliamentary, and of course executive roles in the government. VP appears in parliament on behalf of the President, leads the adjournment debates and closes it, also summarises government policies and statements, and even diplomatic role” he expressed.
Among others, “these are four major roles that future vice president will take,” he added.