Opposition NAM tickles nerves at Barrow rally


By Tabora Bojang

The opposition GDC NAM for Niamina East, Omar Ceesay has caused a stir when he addressed President Barrow’s rally in his constituency highlighting the lack of development in his area and calling on the president to take note of the many complaints of people. He said he has raised these issues such as lack of safe drinking water, roads, help for farmers, in the National Assembly as expected of him. Hon Ceesay said he respects Barrow as the president of The Gambia and feels it is important to be present to draw his attention to the plight and aspirations of his people. But he said he is still GDC and is proud to be a member of the party and would not go anywhere. He however thanked those GDC members who cross-carpeted to the NPP, saying he is grateful that one day in the past they stood by him and voted for him.

However, NAM Ceesay’s rare gesture was greeted with mixed reactions from the entourage. While President Barrow sounded a lot more conciliatory, his ministers were not. Barrow said he is very happy that an opposition NAM came to the rally and even delivered a speech expressing his freedom of speech. ”This act means that our democracy now surpassed that of the United States of America and I encourage all of you, including the NAMs to make sure that the country’s democratic gains are sustained and well-nurtured. The struggle is over now. What is left is for us to be collective and work to develop our country despite our differences,” President Barrow said. However, tourism minister Hamat Bah said the GDC NAM has a “misplaced concept” of politics and further accused him of “lacking diplomacy,” in his address to the president


 Hamat said he found it funny that Hon Ceesay decried the problems of his people when he was among the lawmakers who voted against the government’s Supplementary Appropriation Bill 2020. 

“I was in parliament from morning pleading for them to pass that bill which will provide roads, and other development to your communities but he [Ceesay] voted against that bill. So if all lawmakers were like him, you (the people of Niamina) will not have this road we are going to construct,” Hamat told the meeting. He said NAM Ceesay should quit GDC for NPP otherwise his political career would be over because the GDC is like foam that will eventually evaporate.

The Minister of Agriculture, Amie Fabureh also disagreed. She said it is not fair to say there has not been any improvement in the plight of farmers.

“This year we have increased the price of groundnuts at a price never seen in this country for over 50 years and ensure that farmers get fertilizer on time and even subsidized it for them. This is why I urge them to sell their groundnuts to the government because those who did so will be given the priority in fertiliser and other government programmes because they are supporting the government. The middlemen are only in for profit and unlike the government, they will not give back what they take,” she stated.

 She said the president is aware of the importance of agriculture in the development and advancement of the economy which is “why farmers are take centre stage in his agenda.”

 She denied allegations that donkeys were given to farmers of the region by the president to buy votes for the Niamina East by-elections, saying Barrow has no knowledge of it.

Local Government Minister Musa Drammeh, described NAM Ceesay’s “fiery speech as historical”

“This has never occurred in this country for the past 22 years and it shows the Barrow government is democratic but at least, we expected the NAM to thank the government and acknowledge it for commissioning several project works in the region and country to kick start growth.”