By Edrissa Jallow
The Deputy Party Leader of the United Democratic Party (UDP), Madam Aji Yam Secka, responded to claims from Mr Dodou Jah of the Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction (APRC) that she turned down one of two Co-Chair positions to lead the Inter-Party Committee (IPC). According to the APRC Deputy Spokesperson who doubles as the Communication Chair of the IPC, Madam Secka was nominated by the Opposition caucus of the IPC.
Mr Jah explained that Madam Secka was nominated for the Co-Chair position in an attempt to promote gender equality, however, she declined. Communications Chair Mr Jah was speaking at the handing-over ceremony of the dual Co-Chair role of the IPC which took place on Friday 23rd September 2022.
Our reporter conducted an exclusive interview with Mr Jah who explained that “per the MoU of all the Political Parties, — we have two Co-Chairs, one comes from the ruling party that is the Party that is in Governance. If it’s an Alliance or a Coalition, all of them form the Ruling Party. The other goes to the — rest of the Opposition Parties”.
In attendance at the meeting were Party Leaders, Civil Society Leaders, International Partners and representatives from the United Nations Development Project (UNDP) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Mr Jah revealed that the UDP Deputy Leader “was elected [and] nominated to become the Co-Chair of the IPC and she declined” instead recommending to “choose somebody else”.
Speaking on the selection and nomination process, Mr Jah highlighted that “there were other women during that selection” however “nobody volunteered and said I would replace her or I would be the Co-Chair but instead they unanimously selected Co-Chair Samba Baldeh”.
Mr Jah highlighted that the IPC is “not gender balanced when it comes to the leadership of the IPC”. However, “the IPC did not neglect women’s representation,” in fact, the IPC “don’t even mind having two women Co-Chairs as long as they are competent to serve the aims and objectives of the IPC” enthussed Mr Jah.
“I am Aging, Everything Has an End” says UDP Deputy Leader
Delivering the vote of thanks at the end of the handing over ceremony, Madam Secka, decided to first respond to Mr Jah’s statement that she shyed away from taking a Co-Chair position.
“I am aging, everything has an end, I won’t force myself and take a position which I wouldn’t [be] able to end up with, I am aging,” Madam Secka informed the audience.
Elaborating on her decision she recalled that she “started politics in 1974 as a young woman at the age of 25, with the then ruling party PPP which [she] served until 1994, that’s 20 years. So, I took a break from 1994 to 1996 then I came up again with the UDP”.
It could be recalled that in April 2016, Madam Secka became the interim Party Leader of the UDP after former President Yahya Jammeh ordered the crackdown on UDP Party Ousainou Darboe and his Party Executive for unlawful assembly.
Then Party Leader Madam Secka oversaw the formation of the Coalition 2016 which collectively endorsed then UDP Candidate Adama Barrow who eventually defeated incumbent President Yahya Jammeh in the December 2016 election.
In this regard, Madam Secka says she has done a lot of work and she is not willing to hold any position that she can’t execute. In fact, her “intention is to retire [from] politics and I think [it] is high time for me to retire politics”.
Hon Saikou Bah and Mr. Samba Baldeh Nominated for IPC Co-Chair
The new Co-Chairs of the IPC is NPP’s Parliamentarian for Basse Constituency, Hon Saikou Bah and GDC’s Senior Administrative Secretary, Mr Samba Baldeh who have both been appointed on a “non-renewable” five-year term.
The newly elected Co-Chairs will now replaced former Parliamentarians in the person of People’s Democratic Organisation for Independence and Socialism Leader, Hon Halifa Sallah of Serrekunda and APRC’s Hon Musa Amul Nyassi of Foni Kansala. Both Parliamentarians’ terms ended in April 2022.
The IPC is the apex umbrella body of all Registered Political Parties and helps to promote unity and peaceful, violent free elections.