He said: “This is the first National Assembly to be built by any government of The Gambia, starting from the British. In fact, they did not build anything; the first republic also did not build any national assembly. In fact, the former building which is hotter than a bakery during sittings is a colonial officers club. At the time of independence, they thought it befitting to give it to the government of The Gambia to use it as a national assembly building. This was a club where they used to gamble, drink alcohol and decide on the fate of Gambians for 400 years. If democracy is anything to go by – real democracy I mean – there cannot be democracy if people are not empowered and people should be empowered to participate indirectly or directly in the running of their own affairs and wellbeing. People have to have a say in the development of the country; each region of the country have their own set of priorities that may be different from other parts of the country…
“How is it possible that the British government today is talking about democracy, and human rights in The Gambia when for 400 years they never built a national assembly? What does that mean? Gambians were never allowed to vote? They tell us in those days that we are members of the empire but we are subjects. It is not a surprise that after attaining our independence, the same trend continued but then they gave us a semblance of independence and elections. A clubhouse where they used to drink alcohol and dance was transformed into a National Assembly building for 50 years – 30 years of the former government and 20 years of my government.
“Whatever I do, I do it out of conviction and I do not do it to please or fool people. I believe the representatives of the people deserve to be housed in a conducive environment where they can deliberate and work peacefully. I want them to enjoy the same facilities as members of the cabinet enjoy in their offices. The National Assembly is the custodian of people’s empowerment as enshrined in the constitution because this is the place where all views positive and negative are shared.
“I want to thank the government of India, a former colony of Britain for teaching the British empire what democracy is all about. I want to thank the former president and prime minister of India and current president and prime minister of India, the government and people of India for standing by us in realising a long time dream. This is a personal crusade to ensure that the representatives of the people are housed in an edifice that depicts our vision 2020 and beyond….At least in the French Assembly, there were Senegalese representatives and they built a National Assembly in Senegal that stands to this day. They built a presidential palace but in The Gambia, the Brits never built any building beyond two floors. The State House I am in was built by the Portuguese…”
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