By Tabora Bojang
Foni Jarrol lawmaker, Kebba Toumanding Sanneh, has said if he had known that Yahya Jammeh would not be eligible for the benefits of the former president bills, he would have walked out of the National Assembly during the passing of the bill.
Opposition members from UDP and PDOIS marched out of the Assembly during the debate on Thursday leaving members of the ruling NPP coalition and the independent No Alliance NAMs to vote for it. The opposition said the bill, which provides huge pension and other benefits to former presidents, is inconsiderate of the poor taxpayers.
The Justice Minister said former president Jammeh is not excluded but like any other citizen, being a wanted man, Jammeh must first deal with the law before getting such benefits. This has not gone down well with the Foni NAMs who were made to believe that the bill would immediately benefit Jammeh, the only person with the status of former president of The Gambia.
But speaking to The Standard yesterday, one of the No Alliance NAMs Kebba Toumanding Sanneh, argued that it “has never been declared publicly or written anywhere that Jammeh is wanted,” claiming this is peddled by “enemies and critics” of Jammeh.
“If Jammeh is excluded then it means they brought this bill for President Barrow. If we had known this we would have also walked out. But it was also not too bad that we stayed to challenge and fight to change some of the clauses and make amendments as fitting because we are deeply concerned about the economic conditions of the Gambian people. If we had walked out, they would have just passed it as it was presented,” Sanneh stated.
He said the fact that this law is made to serve Barrow only goes to reveal why the country has been going back since people make laws to serve themselves and then those laws got changed once another person assumes office.
“People are leaving and dying each day along the back-way due to the worsening economic conditions but this government is wasting all its time on Jammeh. Jammeh used to say had it been they sold all his assets and invested it into health, education and scholarships, then he would have no problem but they sold all his assets and shared it. They will reap all that they sow anytime they leave power. They are not fooling us but themselves.”