By Omar Bah
A former mayor of Banjul, Pa Sallah Jeng has yesterday officially declared his intention to run for the office he occupied for three years more than a decade ago.
Speaking at a press conference at his house, Pa Sallah as he is widely known, said he will make Banjul great again in response to the calls and desires of thousands of Banjulians. “I feel humble to answer to the call of my people and see it as an obligation to be of service to them when they need me,” he said.
Jeng who has been resident in the United States for the last several years said he is happy to be back home and once elected, he will continue the job from where he left it many years ago. “Banjul has lost its image and dignity over the years, but I want to assure you that, God willing, we will make the city great again,” he said.
He said there are plans on the ground not only to restore Banjul to its glory days but to ensure that there is sustainability.
“It is also important for all Gambians to take ownership of Banjul. We are one people. We are one nation and we must preserve that value. That’s the only way forward,” he said.
He said though the city is not blessed with enough resources, he is optimistic that there are possibilities to revive the status of the city under his tenure as Mayor.
He said challenges faced by the councils over the years were compounded by the lack of support from the Central Government.
On which party he is affiliated with, Jeng said: “I look at myself as a Coalition candidate. When I say Coalition candidate is because President Barrow is elected under Coalition ticket.
“I have a committee that will sit and discuss and make their recommendation. I don’t want to get myself committed to a single political party. I want to represent everybody, being it as an independent candidate or not.”
On his priority areas, Mr Jeng said the issue of waste management would be his number one priority as well as to expand the Gambia Ports Authority, but he stressed that most of the institutions operating in Banjul, GPA included, are paying very little revenue to the council.
Pa Sallah Jeng won the Banjul Mayor election on 25 April 2002 as an independent candidate, defeating his rival Emmanuel Williams of the then ruling APRC.
On August 19, 2005, Jeng was suspended and accused of corruption and abuse of office, an accusation which was later proven to be false.
On 24 October 2007, Jeng was acquitted on all counts. He later left for the US on exile to avoid further witch hunting by President Jammeh.