By Omar Bah
The Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly has said Gambians should appreciate President Adama Barrow for his steadfastness in championing democracy and rule of law.
Addressing the Assembly during the debate on the State of the Nation Address, Seedy Njie said the president has been very consistent in his respect for rule of law and good governance.
“Honourable Speaker, this is why under the current government the independence of the judiciary is respected. For the first time in the history of this country any citizen can go to court against the government or even the leadership of this country and you are protected and due process is followed by all actors of the state,” he said.
The Deputy Speaker said the government under President Barrow has “never interfered” with the operation of the judiciary.
“That is the government that President Adama Barrow is trying to nurture,” Njie said.
At that juncture, the NAM for Baddibu Central, Sulayman Saho argued that the credit for restoring democracy in the country goes to the Gambian people and not President Barrow.
“It is the effort of the Gambian people that brought that change. It is not President Adama Barrow, it is the Gambian people,” Honourable Saho said.
But the Deputy Speaker countered: “Honourable member, I can safely say that you don’t believe in your statement that it is the Gambian people collectively who made the change. You know honourable members during politics, each competitor has an agenda and program and you go to the people and sell your agenda and you are voted for based on that agenda which includes the type of governance that you want to operate. So, it is President Barrow’s programs and policies that provided for the respect for due process, fundamental human rights and freedom of expression and assembly. It was based on those policies that Gambians elected President Barrow and that is why Gambia is recognised as one of the best countries in the sub region in terms of human rights and due process and that is what you are enjoying in this country,” he said.
Responding to one NAM who questioned the president’s claims that country is transforming, Njie argued: “Honourable Speaker, it baffles me that an honourable member will question the president’s claims that the country is transforming and at the same time went on to say that the country is coming from 22 years of dictatorship where there was no respect for people’s right, due process and total disregard of the constitution and that people were killed and tortured.
“Contrary to the period he is talking about, today you have civil servants even serving at the highest-level exercising their civic rights openly but would have been behind bars during that period,” he added.
At that juncture, one of the Foni NAMs interrupted the Deputy Speaker, shouting “Is it Seedy Njie talking?” before withdrawing his statement a moment later.
The Deputy Speaker who also doubles as the Chairman of the National Assembly Committee on Defence said 90% of the Security Sector Reform has been completed.
“The SIS have now returned to their constitutional mandate of intelligence gathering. It is no longer a detention centre and if you go to the police, they have to stop detaining people beyond 72 hours. That alone is about transformation,” Njie said.
At that point, the NAM for Sannementereng, Fatou Cham raised a point of order but she was ignored as the Deputy Speaker went on to conclude by preaching his fellow NAMs on the need to put aside their political differences and see the country.