Calling it a democratic, transparent and accountable representation, Hon. Ousman Sillah, National Assembly Member for Banjul North, organised a meeting on Friday, 4 August, 2017 in one of the wards in his constituency to render accounts to the electorate on what he has been doing since his election in April and to ask them about their concerns that need attention.
The meeting, which was held at the junction of Mosque Road and Lancaster Street in Banjul attracted people from different parts of the capital city but most especially Banjul North Constituency which gave mandate to the lawmaker.
Described as a novelty in the history of political representation, this is the first time in the Gambia when a member of parliament organised a meeting to purposely report to the electorate on what he has been doing on their behalf and to also ask them to tell him what he should be doing to address their concerns.
The people who attended the meeting expressed their amazement and hailed the initiative which they described as “real democracy at work”.
“In a bid to ensure democratic, transparent and accountable representation, I promised the electorate of Banjul North during the national assembly elections campaign that if elected into office, I will be consulting them on a regular basis in order to hear their concerns and to report what is being said and done on their behalf both in and out of the National Assembly,” said the Banjul North Parliamentarian.
Hon. Sillah challenged the gathering that they should be organising such meetings in which the political representatives are summon before them to render accounts on how they are representing the Gambian electorate in promoting and defending their interests.
“The new Gambia we are talking about is only possible if the people are concerned about how the country is managed by the political representatives and are fully involved in the governance process,” said the Banjul North NAM.
Reporting on what has transpired during the four months in which they have been serving as National Assembly members, the Banjul North law maker elaborated on the bills that came to them and passed into law, the motions and his contributions to the debates as well as the questions he raised and the answers given to them by the concerned cabinet ministers.
“The revised approved budget for the 2017 financial year presented by the Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs amounted to D12, 100,592,030 (Twelve Billion, One hundred million, Five hundred and ninety two thousand, and Thirty Dalasi),” said Hon. Sillah.
He told the crowd that this represented a reduction of D435 million but added that there is also an increase in the servicing and repayment of loans.
The Banjul North NAM informed the gathering that as part of his oversight functions he is the Chair of the National Assembly Select Committee on Health, Women, Children, Disaster, Humanitarian Relief and Refugees and serves in the committees on Foreign Affairs and Trade and also a member of the delegation to the Parliamentary Union of the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC).
He reported the two international convergences in which he represented The Gambia in Mali and Burkina Faso, respectively. He added that in the Bamako meeting he was elected as the Treasurer of the International Committee of Parliamentarians for the Abandonment of Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C) for three years.
He explained that his statutory role is to be legislating laws and serving as oversight but that these should not stop him from coming up with independent initiatives to address the needs of the Gambian people. He cited the Crab Island project as one of such initiatives which is seeking to help young people in the Greater Banjul Area acquire the relevant skills for employment, income generation and productivity and of which the ministry of basic and secondary education is fully supportive.
The other initiatives conceived by the National Assembly Member for Banjul North include the support for remedial classes for senior secondary schools in Banjul to help students improve their poor performance in the core subjects of English Language, Mathematics and Science.
He has also opened an office at Glocester Street in Banjul to enable the electorate to have access to him.
At the end of his presentation, several speakers took the floor to comment or ask pertinent questions on many issues concerning the election promises made by the new government, the problems of the city of Banjul, youth unemployment, poverty, etc. They all hailed the event as the first of its kind and urged the NAMs to emulate this example.
Dr. Pa Modou Njie, who chaired the meeting, called on the electorate not only in Banjul North but the whole country to engage their representatives to be communicating with them regularly and for the people to also ensure that they deliver.
It was earlier revealed by Hon. Sillah that after this maiden event two other similar and successive meetings will be held in the other parts of Banjul North and starting next Friday.