By Omar Bah

The National Assembly Member for Wuli East, and founder member of the PDOIS Sidia Jatta, has made it emphatically clear that only the parliament has the powers to revive the rejected draft constitution.

Jatta’s comments came three weeks after his colleague in PDOIS Halifa Sallah’s motion to resurrect the draft constitutional bill was rejected by the Speaker of the National Assembly.


A former Gambian ambassador and foreign minister, Momodou Lamin Sedat Jobe, has also since urged President Adama Barrow to support Halifa Sallah’s motion seeking to reintroduce the draft constitution bill which was rejected by the National Assembly in September.

Addressing a CSO coalition on budget transparency stakeholder dialogue on the 2021 national budget and the country’s development objectives, Jatta said the attempts made by the government to bring former Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan to mediate on the constitution may represent a waste of time because only the National Assembly can resurrect the draft constitution.

“Sometimes I don’t think we use our heads because anything that is rejected by a parliament can never be brought into that parliament except by themselves. So if he comes, whatever they discuss has to be about a new constitution completely different from what we have, because we alone can bring it back and we have made efforts. My colleague (Halifa Sallah) laid a motion to rescind our decision of rejecting it,” he said.

At that point, some of the NAMs who voted against the draft present at the CSO meeting shouted “we were not consulted”.

But Sidia, who refused to be interrupted, further argued: “It is only parliament who can resurrect the draft by rescinding its decision. The only option the executive has is to draft another constitution.”


The Wuli East NAM also criticised the essence of Gambia’s audit reports.

“There is no essence of audit reports, if actions are not taken to address lapses identified by auditors. The importance of audit reports is to help address something that is going wrong somewhere. But 2016 is how many years old now? (Laughter). Don’t laugh, this is the problem in this country. The 2016 audit report is 4 years old, 2017 report 3 years old and the 2018 2 years old. The disaster has been done already; you cannot undo it. So what is the essence of audit reports in this country? What purpose does it serve? No purpose. It is not helping anybody to correct anything before the damage is done,” he said.

Zatta added: “We need more seriousness in this country than what we are doing now. Honestly, I don’t want anybody to feel offended. I am not afraid of saying what is right whether it hurts or it doesn’t hurt. I don’t care. What I care about is what serves my country. The purpose of auditing the finances of a public office is to help arrest problems that are going to be bigger if they are not arrested. All these things are happening and they are not doing anything about them.”

The country has a deficit of D12 billion. He said in an attempt to reduce the deficit, the parliament reduces D80 million each from the Judiciary and the National Audit Office and over D200 million meant for the constitutional referendum.

“The fundamental thing is that we cannot meet our development needs because we don’t have the means. You cannot develop any country with donors and grants. That is not possible. It has never happened anywhere in the world and it will never happen. The debt burden is now going to D60 billion. You borrow and spend all your money on servicing your debts instead of investing into productive sectors in your economy,” he said.

Turning to fisheries, Jatta added: “For over 50 years we cannot afford to invest into our fishing sector. How many European vessels are now fishing in our waters? About 31 and they are giving us Euro 500, 000 per annum. If one of those vessels is fishing for six months in our waters, I am not a fisherman but I know in months they can make millions. So we are losing. The whole essence of their budget support is to keep us alive so that we can pay our debts.”