By Omar Bah
A chaotic start to yesterday’s extra ordinary session of the National Assembly on the mass death of children from taking contaminated medicine saw the member for Banjul South Fatoumatta Njai asked out and the Speaker locked in heated argument with opposition members. Hon Njai was sent out after she refused to withdraw her statement calling a claim by the Deputy Speaker, Seedy Njie, a “lie”.
Honourable Njai had attacked the Majority Leader for hypocrisy after he seconded the motion on the extraordinary session despite allegedly refusing to sign the request for the Speaker to call the session. She said: “I will applaud the minority side of the Assembly because they made this setting possible today. However, I was disappointed to see the Majority Leader raising his tag to second a motion that he was reluctant to sign for this meeting be convened on this matter that affected our children. And now he wanted to show the world that he cares by seconding the motion. Honourable Speaker, I am ashamed because this is a matter of interest to the public and we should demonstrate to our people that we care.”
She however commended the Ministry of Health for acting very quickly to identify the causes and recalling all the medicines associated with it.
Defending the Majority Leader, the Deputy Speaker Seedy Njie said: “Honourable Speaker, I want to say from the beginning that the Majority Leader and member for Kantora was never presented with this motion to sign; rather, it was a paper that was presented for him to sign to call for this Extraordinary Session. That needs to be made clear. The whole process of the AKI issue was politicised.”
At that juncture, a seemingly unhappy Touma Njai raised a point of order to say that the Deputy Speaker has not spoken the truth. “Honourable Speaker, the honourable just stood up to tell us something that is not true. That is a lie,” Njai said.
Even as the Speaker tried to bring her to order, Honourable Njai insisted that the Deputy Speaker was lying.
The Speaker then asked her to withdraw her statement but she refused: “Honourable Speaker, if a truth is said I will say it’s the truth but if a lie is said, I will say it’s a lie. I may be asked to leave the chambers but I will not withdraw.”
At that point, the Speaker asked her to leave the Assembly arguing” “We want sanity in this institution and respect for each other. We are bound to have divergent opinions and we should all respect that. We don’t want statements like that here,” the Speaker said.
At that juncture, the NAM for Foni Bintang raised a point of order against the Speaker who was quick to advise her to read the roles of the National Assembly because he (Speaker) cannot be observed.
The NAM for Busumbala also intervened to say the sitting should continue and that the Speaker should stop making remarks on members just like that.
The Speaker then asked him to come and take his place.
“I will not come and sit there,” the Busumbala NAM insisted.
The Speaker further argued that the MP should know better and limit himself to his seat and leave him alone.