By Omar Bah
Furious about the recent mass absenteeism of members leading to a lack of quorum for sessions last week, the Speaker of the National Assembly has cautioned parliamentarians against being absent from Assembly sittings without seeking permission from his office.
Prior to this warning, the norm has been that National Assembly Members would take permission from the Assembly Table Office and be granted without the Speaker’s knowledge.
But addressing the issue on Wednesday following the cancelation of a parliamentary debate due to lack of quorum, Speaker Fabakary Tombong Jatta ordered for the practice to be abolished with immediate effect.
Jatta said henceforth, NAMs must take permission from Office of the Speaker otherwise they would be considered “absent without permission”.
“Allowing NAMs to absent themselves just like that without following due process will put my office in jeopardy because all those who are absent people will think they were granted permission by my office. We have all seen what happen yesterday (Tuesday)- NAMs were absent to the extent that we could not hold our sittings. That cannot continue Honourable Members. If you want to get permission, like I said, I will discuss with the Table Office but it is the Speaker who will give permission. Without the Speaker’s permission you are absent yes, but you are absent without permission,” Speaker Jatta told NAMs.
FTJ further reminded the parliamentarians: “Your number one priority should be attending parliamentary sessions. All others are secondary, so definitely, I will not see my office to be giving people permissions that I am not aware of and people will be pointing fingers at my office for being responsible for granting these permissions until we cannot have quorum when in actual fact, I am not even aware. I will put a stop to it”.