By Edrissa Jallow
The National Assembly’s Select Committee on Monitoring and Implementation of Government Projects ejected four institutions working under the Ministry of Transport, Works and Infrastructure (MoW) on Wednesday 22nd June 2022 due to the absence of Minister Ebrima Sillah. Also missing from the meeting, much to the displeasure of the Committee were the MoW’s Permanent Secretary and the CEO of Gambia’s Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC) Secretariat to name a few.
The institution representatives who attended the meeting but were unceremoniously booted out of the meeting include the National Road Authority (NRA), Gambia Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), representatives from the OIC and the MoW.
In an exclusive interview with the Chairperson of the Select Committee on Monitoring and Implementation of Government Projects, Hon Yahya Menteng Sanyang informed our reporter that the committee is only interested in meeting with the principal actors and not their representatives.
“We just want the principal actors, the Minister, the Permanent Secretary, the Chief Executive Officer and the Managing Directors to appear. Not for them to delegate their powers to anybody to come and sit in front of us,” said the Hon member for Latrikunda Sabiji.
Also missing from the meeting was the Managing Director of the National Water and Electricity Company (NAWEC). Chairperson Hon Sanyang told Gainako that he received information from a Manager at NAWEC notifying him that the Managing Director of NAWEC was summoned to the office of the President in State House, Banjul.
According to the Chairperson, that is “the most annoying part” even though it’s an “arm of government and we are another arm of government we called you before the President you went to answer to the President and neglect our call that one is very unfortunate”.
He stressed that the Assembly Business takes “precedence over everything so, therefore we don’t take that as a good excuse. We don’t take those as genuine excuses that can precede the business of the National Assembly”.
Chairperson Hon Sanyang of the Committee has work experience in the OIC and defeated his predecessor Hon Saikou Marong in April 2022 to occupy the Latrikunda Sabiji seat. Both NAMs won their seat via the United Democratic Party ticket in 2017 and 2022. However, Hon Saikou Marong shifted his allegiance to President Adama Barrow’s National People’s Party and lost to a protest vote in April 2022.
Chairperson Hon Sanyang questioned the representatives present “why the Principal actors [failed to] appear instead of the representative” and noted that the Minister and Heads of Institutions “are the ones directly accountable to [the National Assembly] so, that’s why we want them to appear before us face to face and mood to mood.”
As a result of the absence of Principal Actors, the Committee meeting was suspended. Chairperson Hon Sanyang seized the opportunity to warn the Principal Actors that “if they don’t appear next time, we are going to charge them with contempt of the process of the National Assembly”.
He added that Ministers, Permanent Secretaries and Institutions that will be appearing before Parliament cannot delegate their appearance to the Committee to anybody else. Hon Sanyang reiterated that Principal Actors “must appear [before Parliament when summoned] or we do the needful because we are empowered by the law”.
Our reporter asked Chairperson Hon Sanyang if he had any notification or information on the absence of the Minister and his Permanent Secretary and responded to say that the MoW’s Deputy Permanent Secretary informed him that Minster Ebrima Sillah had “travelled and his Permanent Secretary is new and taking up responsibilities”.
He closed the meeting by highlighting that the Sixth Legislature’s business should be taken very seriously and that the Committee proceedings will no longer be business as usual.