By Edrissa Jallow
Newly-elected Deputy Minority Leader, Hon Madi Ceesay of Serrekunda West has urged Gambian Parliamentarians to rescue the Gambia from President Adama Barrow and corrupt individuals. Speaking shortly after being sworn in for his second term, Hon Ceesay told Gainako in an exclusive interview that “Parliament has to save Gambians because [President] Barrow cannot save this country. [President] Barrow is ruining this country, so the Sixth legislature, it is incumbent on us to make sure that we save this country from the people who have taken our money left, right and centre. This has to stop”.
One way corruption could be addressed is to pass the Anti-Corruption Bill and institute a functioning Commission. In the run-up to the Parliamentary Elections, Hon Ceesay actively advocated for the passing of the Anti-Corruption Bill even, however, he was part of the Fifth Legislature which failed to pass the Anti-Corruption Bill. Nonetheless, the NAM for Serrekunda West, believes that UDP NAMs voted into the Sixth Legislature will fast track the Anti-Corruption Bill to combat corruption and “save this country”.
President Barrow shocked the country when he nominated the Party Leader of the Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction (APRC), Hon Fabakary Tombong Jatta as Speaker and one time Minister of Information under former President Yahya Jammeh, Hon Seedy S K Njie as Deputy Speaker. The remaining three nominated members are Maimuna Ceesay, Kebba Lang and Hon Fatoumatta K Jawara. The latter lost her re-election bid for the Talingding Constituency seat on 9th April 2022.
After members of the Sixth Legislature were sworn in on 14th April 2022, Hon Ceesay told Gainako that “the President is blind in his nomination”. In his view, the President failed to look at the broader perspective. Nonetheless, “this nomination comes in the Constitution only to help the President to identify vulnerable groups that face challenges to get access to Parliament and those vulnerable groups are the ones the President should capture in his nomination”.
“What we have seen today is nomination [based on] Political Interests. Adama the President of this country never had the interest of the [persons with disability society], that’s why they are not represented. He did not consider the women, he did not consider the business group (and) he did not consider the youths,” said Hon Ceesay.
It should be noted that President Barrow nominated two women out of the possible five. There are currently three elected women in Parliament making it a total of five women Parliamentarians. In contrast to 2017 when six women were seated in Parliament including three elected and three nominated female Parliamentarians. In 2017 President Barrow nominated only one person living with disabilities into the Fifth Legislature. However, this year the President opted not to nominate any person living with disabilities into the Sixth Legislature.
UDP is set to stand against NPP
Speaking on his perceived improvement of UDP NAMs elected in the Sixth Legislature, Hon Ceesay believes that UDP NAMs are more competent now. According to the member from Serrekunda West in the “2017 [Parliamentary] election, we (UDP) were rushing, we picked some people that we didn’t conduct any background checks on. But then I can assure [you that] this Sixth Legislature, the 15 elected members of the UDP will remain to the end”.
According to the Journalist turned Politician the Sixth Legislature will make a big impact “because in the history of Gambia it has never happened anywhere that a ruling party failed to capture an absolute majority”. President Barrow’s National People’s Party (NPP) won 18 seats in Parliament and nominated 5 members into Parliament making it a total of 23 NAMs.
Recalling some of the Commissions set up by President Barrow’s government Hon Madi believes only Parliament can save the country. He referred to the Faraba Commission and the Janneh Commission which investigated corruption in the regime of former President Yahya Jammeh.
Hon Ceesay noted that after the Commissions have been set up and the reports submitted “nothing comes out of it”. In his view “these are things [Parliament] needs to follow up on” to ensure the recommendations in the report are implemented.
Majority and Minority Leadership
News updates from Parliament have announced the Parliamentary Majority and Minority Leaders, their Deputy and Chief Whip. The announcement noted that “the Majority Leader is the leader of the party with the largest number of seats in the National Assembly”. Since the NPP won the most seats Hon Billay G. Tunkara, Member for Kantora has been selected as the Majority Leader while Hon Abdoulie Ceesay, Member for Old Yundum will serve as his Deputy while Hon Omar Darboe, Member for Upper Niumi will serve as the Chief Whip of the NPP.
“The Minority Leader is the leader of the party with the second-largest number of seats in the National Assembly” read the statement. The UDP has the second largest number of seats and has selected Hon Alhagie S. Darboe, Member for Brikama North as the Minority Leader while Hon Madi M.K. Ceesay, Member for Serekunda West will serve as his Deputy.
Hon Sulayman Saho, Member for Central Badibou will serve as the Chief Whip for the UDP.