By Tabora Bojang
“Unless we free our people from being born in poverty, living in poverty and dying in poverty we have not dug the type of well our people deserve,” Serekunda lawmaker Halifa Sallah said yesterday evening while delivering his farewell address on the floor of the National Assembly as he ended a decade of representing Serekunda constituency. Yesterday was the final sitting of the fifth legislature.
In an emotional speech, the PDOIS leader said he came to parliament to promote a transformative agenda to build a new Gambia on the ethos of self-reliance and self-determination.
During the session attended by dozens of lawmakers, cabinet ministers, well-wishers and members of civil society, Sallah reminded his colleagues that the battle to free The Gambia from its current state will not be won unless they collectively work to liberate their electorate from poverty and the country’s reliance on begging.
“It is left to each of us [NAMs] to prepare for the type of future we want for ourselves and our people. The problems are still here and we must not close our eyes to them. We will fight our battles to come back into this parliament. We will say many things but after doing so, let us sit down and ask ourselves: what is the use of being a representative? Is it turning this place into a talking shop or work to remedy the problems of our people? We could have passed more bills with an organised set-up, and an executive that is focused and knows what it wants to do. I came to represent The Gambia sent by Serekunda today – Serekunda without football fields, community centres and recreational facilities. The same thing with electricity, water supply and drainage. We need a solution to these problems. This country is still begging for a way forward and if we are sincere enough we will not be fooling ourselves with self praises. That is not the way forward. Hardship is here, suffering is here. Yes, we may have a mighty building, arch, bridges and roads and we say we have done well. But unless we free people from being born, living and dying in poverty, we have not dug the type of well our people deserve. The well that our people deserve is to free them from poverty and that is not the reality at the moment.”
Halifa thanked his electorate for the confidence bestowed in him. During the daylong session, many lawmakers praised him for his “selfless service” to The Gambia. His long-term colleague Sidia Jatta, described him as “a magnificent citizen”.