His Excellency, President Barrow appreciates that Gambians can now freely express themselves on issues that are of concern to them. This is a welcomed development as issues can be critically discussed and clarified.
One of such issues of interest is the nomination of National Assembly members. The Constitution of the Republic of the Gambia 1997, Section 88 (1.b.) empowers H.E the President to nominate five (5) members of the National Assembly. These should be citizens with similar qualifications as elected Members as stated under Section 88 (2) of the Constitution. In addition he may give consideration to experience, gender, age and other inclusivity criteria. These, amongst others, were what influenced his recent nomination of the five National Assembly members. Their independence, experience in politics, and active social engagement were all given due consideration in the selection process.
Amongst the nominees, Ms. Mariam Jack-Denton, duly elected speaker, is a renowned lawyer. She could ensure that there is institutional accountability in building a strong foundation for our country to sustain its democracy. It is expected that her ability to cross party boundaries in her interactions with her colleagues will further our common agenda to enhance efficiency of the Assembly. In the case of Ms. Ndey Yassin Secka – Sallah, despite her visual impairment, she has worked in the media raising the concerns of people with disability as well as being a volunteer in many organizations.
Ms. Kumba Jaiteh represents the youth and as a young activist, her legal background is an added value to the Assembly. With regards to the two male nominees, Honourable Majanko Samusa and Momodou Sanneh, they will bring in their experience as former National Assembly members to the New Gambia.
Blending experienced former Assembly Members in the New Gambia with young vibrant political activists will nurture the change we want for our country.
It is normal that appointments may seem to favour one group or another. This could be ethnic, gender, age, regional or religious representation. What is important is the ability of the appointee to carry out the functions assigned to them with competence. There is only one common identity we have as citizens, that is, we are all Gambians. We should avoid identity politics and work in the best interest of the country. Only conscience and integrity will bring the best out of us.
Political affiliation cannot be a factor to disqualify any citizen from public service. It is a constitutional right to associate with any political party of one’s choice so long as it does not influence their performance and professionalism. His Excellency the President views our political diversity as a strength for us to nurture our new democracy.
Decision making is a process influenced by consultations with individual, various partners and stakeholders. In life everybody has a mentor or is inspired by someone or something. As a President who came from a political party founded by people of integrity, President Barrow also has mentors and people who inspire him. However this should not be interpreted as his decisions being dictated by anyone.
It should also be noted that vying for the Presidency for him was a mission for change from an entrenched dictatorship and to promote dialogue, consultation and accommodating the opinions of others to make informed decisions. It was through the active participation of citizens that regime change was effected in December 2016.
We all have our strengths and weaknesses but together we are stronger. If we have unity of purpose then we can overcome our differences and leave a positive legacy. We will be crossing one bridge at a time. Gambians have removed a dictator who has been entrenched for 22 years. We must overcome our differences and focus on our common agenda.
President Barrow has confidence that our representatives it in the National Assembly understand the need to rebuild our nation based on strong institutions and legal environment. Our NAMs will demonstrate maturity, respect for each other as well as focus on the agenda to build a strong foundation for future governments to build on. This will give citizens the liberty to enjoy their freedom with dignity and within the rule of law.
His Excellency, the President welcomes sincere comments from the public on issues of concern as this is what is expected in a democracy.
By Amie Bojang-Sissoho
Director of Press and Public Relations
Office of the President