Wednesday, February 8

President Barrow pays last respect to late vice President Badara Alieu Joof

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By Binta Jaiteh

Gambian Monday paid their last respect to the country’s vice President Badara Alieu Joof, who died in New Delhi, India on Wednesday.

Until his death, he was the VP appointed on 4 May 2022, Joof served in various capacities, including Minister of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology (MOTHERS), Permanent Secretary in various ministries across the government.

He also served as World Bank Director for West and Central Africa for over a decade, a position he relinquished to take up Cabinet appointment in the new political dispensation.

In his tribute at the National Assembly, Gambian leader Adama Barrow described his funeral as a solemn day in the annals of Gambian history, triggered by the untimely passing of the country’s sitting vice president, Badara Alieu Joof.

“As the whole nation mourns, it is with a great sense of loss and a very heavy heart that I deliver this tribute in remembrance and praise of a close colleague, friend, and brother, who sadly worked as my Vice President for less than a full year when he succumbed to a brief illness.

“His rise to the position of Vice President was occasioned by the integrity, competence, and industry he outstandingly displayed during the five-year transition period he served as Minister of Higher Education, Research, Science, and Technology in my government from 2017 to 2021,” said President Barrow.

He said Joof would be remembered in multiple ways, among other reasons, owing to the uncountable lives he touched, the various institutions he influenced or served in, his multi-faceted character and talent, and the numerous roles he played during his 66-year lifespan.

“Badara was without question a formidable statesman, a scholar par excellence, a talented administrator, and a naturally gifted leader of rare courage and integrity. He was a compassionate husband, a loving father, a trusted friend, and a colleague of many shades.

“His experience, spanning from the First and Second Republic to the new democratic dispensation under my leadership, makes him one of the truly exceptional and accomplished Gambian citizens,” he added.

He pointed out that Vice President Joof had the fortunate privilege of serving the country in various capacities. During his career in public service, he climbed from the lowest rank of the Public Administration Cadre as Assistant Secretary to the top as Permanent Secretary in several Government Ministries, namely, Ministries of Basic and Secondary Education, Youth and Sports, and of Local Government, Lands and Regional Administration.

“Along the way, he initiated decisive Government policies and programmes. As Permanent Secretary, for instance, he led the mid-term review of The Gambia’s fifteen-year Education Policy 1988-2003, which significantly changed the education landscape in the country, and he boldly master-minded the famous Local Government Decentralisation Policy,” President Barrow noted.

According to him, as a Cabinet Minister, Honourable Joof worked like a real professional to oversee the development of the Tertiary and Higher Education Policy, the review of the National Accreditation and Quality Assurance Authority Act, and the formulation of the current National Research Policy.

He also passionately championed the transformation of The Gambia Technical Training Institute into the emerging University of Applied Sciences, Engineering and Technology, and The Gambia College into a degree-awarding institution.

The Gambian leader said Badara Joof was among the highly reputable brains of The Gambia. Outside the Government, he worked for the World Bank as an Education Specialist for over a decade.

Before he was appointed Minister in 2017, he was a World Bank Regional Director for West and Central Africa.

He further stated that those who knew late VP Joof’s professional career very well would readily confirm that Joof was an intelligent and meticulous administrator and diplomat, who was firm but flexible, lovable and warm.

“He had a sharp sense of humour that he often displayed and blended with witty remarks, which made his company delightful. He was honest and blunt. In his own words, he enjoyed telling the truth, with the belief that telling the truth was the right thing to do and the best way to put things together.

“In one of his speeches, when he said he did not mind losing his job for telling the truth, he was merely emphasizing this principle. Badara was indeed a principled gentleman and could never walk out of any job, nor betray the confidence I reposed in him.

“He had a taste for quotations and was renowned for his eloquence and proficiency in English, a subject he taught at Nusrat Senior Secondary School in the 1980s,” President Barrow said in eulogy to late VP Joof.

President Barrow said The Gambia has certainly lost an illustrious son, a national asset and a pillar in Cabinet who contributed constructively to Cabinet proceedings, adding that “he was dependable and generously shared his knowledge, experience, and expertise and in truth, he selflessly devoted all his life to the service of his country and humanity in various ways”.

He added: “Many Gambians looked up to him as an icon, mentor or role model, and he taught or influenced many people, most of whom subsequently rose to occupy very senior and notable positions of authority in the country. As our wise elders would say, a gigantic tree has fallen, and many birds will now find elsewhere to rest.

“May his memory be a source of blessing, strength, and inspiration for the entire nation, including his dear ones, associates, and friends.”

In recognition and appreciation of the patriotic service he rendered to the nation, President Barrow posthumously awarded His Excellency, the Vice President of the Republic of The Gambia, Dr Joof, the insignia of Member of the Grand Commander of the Order of The Republic of The Gambia (GCRG).

Fabakary Tombong Jatta, Speaker of the National Assembly described Hon Joof as a true patriot who has dedicated his entire life to the moral development of the Gambia and a kind, humble personality, his influence and interaction transcend ethnic, ideological, and other sectarian boundaries as he has always sought to bring about harmony.

“He was forthright, robust, informed, and academically grounded. His contributions were underpinned by a unique urgency and always focused on the future as he always looked to what his generation would bequeath to their next generation.”

Speaker Tombong Further said “As we mourn his untimely death, we take solace in the purposeful and exemplary life that he led and we know that the passage of time never really heals the wounds that have been occasioned by such a tragic loss. We pray that Allah grants them the fortitude to bear this irreparable loss.