By Omar Bah
The leader of the main opposition United Democratic Party has urged the government to end all “hostilities” directed at UDP-led councils and work with them for the interest of the people and the country.
Addressing the West Coast Region chairman and councillors’ victory celebration on Saturday, Ousainu Darboe said local government and central government are partners and they should work together because decentralisation is the government’s policy.
“In fact, it started during Sir Dawda’s time, and even during Yahya Jammeh’s time, there had always been realisation that there must be decentralisation of power at the local level. I want to urge the central government to understand that these councils that are headed by UDP-elected chairmen or mayors are not complicit or enemies of the government, and they must see them as development partners and work with them for the development of the Gambia. This is how you give credibility to your call for decentralisation. You cannot usurp the functions of the local government authorities just because you believe you can do so with impunity or without any consequences,” Darboe said.
He said the UDP-led councils must concentrate on their mission, and they should not be distracted in any way.
Reacting to the government’s decision to seize a vehicle belonging to the Brikama Area Council which was taken from its CEO following his suspension for alleged corruption and misappropriation of funds, Darboe argued that the government has no legal authority to do so. The vehicle was reportedly taken from the council grounds by officers of the PIU.
“I challenge the Attorney General and Inspector General of Police to show us the authority that says that anybody can come and pick up the property of any council, whether it is Kuntaur, Basse, or Kanifing Municipal councils. You have absolutely no right. These are their properties; they invested in them. In fact, what has been done is an act of trespass to provoke us, but we will not be provoked. Instead, we will expose your ignorance and unwillingness to work with the local government authorities,” he said.
The opposition leader urged Chairman Yankuba Darboe and all UDP regional chairpersons and mayors to work with the law without fear or favor. He urged UDP supporters to contribute to the running of the party to avoid begging for support from outside or being obligated to anyone if they are in power.
He challenged the Brikama Area Council chairman and his councillors to work in the interest of the people of the West Coast Region.
Commenting on the importance of the youth, Darboe said: “The future of the country is in the hands of the young people, and when I say young people, I am not just referring to the youth wing of the UDP but also all the young people of this country. It is your responsibility to ensure that we lift this country to a higher height. Like the saying goes, tell me what type of youth and woman you have, and I will tell you what type of country you will create. You (young people) are the ones who should show people what type of country The Gambia will be or what will come off its current direction.”