Thursday, July 21, 2011

National Assembly Derailing from Its Mandate

 More news…
  • NDEA Examines Gambia’s Drug Situation
  • Peace Ambassadors Continues A Ceaseless Quest For Peace

Hon Sidia Jatta
National Assembly Derailing from Its Mandate
The lawmaking body of The Gambia, the National Assembly in Banjul has been accused of derailing from its mandate as an oversight institution mandated to hold accountable the government and its institutions.
This is because of “loyalty” to party leadership, according to Hon. Sidia Jatta, a Representative of the National Alliance for Democracy and Development (NADD) as the National Assembly Member for the Wuli West District.
“The National Assembly is not acting as an oversight institution, since they depend on the Executive to acquire privileges and cannot scrutinize it. Therefore, it cannot serve us diligently,” Mr Jatta said during a political rally organised by the People for Democratic Independence and Socialism (PDOIS) at the Bundung Bantaba, Kanifing Municipality.
The PDOIS, one of the oldest opposition parties in the country is currently embarking on a series of campaigns dubbed “public sensitizations”.
Mr Jatta said the executive can do or say anything to the people, and until they teach them a lesson by voting out many of their representatives at all levels, they will never be taken seriously.
“If you know yourself, have self-esteem and dignity, you become empowered,” he said.
He adds that Gambian people fought for independence and achieved it and become sovereign but their representatives who should have been servants; trustees to enlighten people to become sovereign people become their rulers and turned people into pawns to be tossed here and there

According to him, it is an irony that The Gambian as a nation is sovereign, and on the contrary, its people are not a sovereign people. “The Chief Executive of the present administration would stand up and tell us that he will rule over us whether we like it or not and that any people who do not vote for him and his party would not see development and we accept it,” he laments.
He also laments that people are subjected to inhumane and degrading treatment such as the “witchcraft fiasco” where men and women were captured, humiliated, tortured leading to the lost of lives. Halifa Sallah had to sacrifice his life and freedom to put a stop to it.
“As voters, we should have power and voice and it is our votes that put the President, National Assembly Members (NAMS) and Councilors into representative institutions, but why don’t we ask ourselves. Are they representing us as we wish them to represent us?” he said.
“Because people are not enlightened and empowered to know their rights and responsibilities, representatives could become Kings/Queens over them and people are denied their rights and they keep on complaining and blaming themselves instead of acknowledging their powers.”
He argues that people did not elect effective and efficient representatives who put national interest before party interest; all safeguards to maintain the power of the people have been removed by the NAMs such as the election of Chiefs, Alkalos (village heads) in the case of disputes, and second round of voting and devolution of power from central to local governance.
Mr Jatta also noted that “everything becomes concentrated in the hands of the executive” who can now dismiss an elected representative who is expelled from the party, what is spared in the constitution are the entrenched clauses which need a referendum before they could be changed.
However, he said: “That is why no one can change Gambia into a One Party State or to change our Republic into a Monarchy (Kingship)”. He challenged citizens to know their country and know that it has wealth which should be utilized to create jobs and prosperity, and resources are mined but there is no where in the budget that shows what is derived from it.
He pointed out that The Gambia has hard working people who are alienated from its wealth, the country’s resources have been mismanaged until it is now classified as a highly indebted poor country with 62 percent of her population facing abject poverty, while explaining the country’s fertile land, the river, the ocean are all assets that can be turned into opportunities.
Nonetheless, he noted that The Gambia under a genuine people’s administration will serve the needs and aspirations of her people and that of the continent. Africa, the richest continent has the poorest people because Africa’s elected representatives have betrayed her hard working citizenry.  

Agenda 2011
On Agenda 2011, the NADD representative said he believes in the philosophy of Agenda 2011, since the Ruling Party (APRC) members of the National Assembly and the Executive have eliminated the “second round of voting” which makes it easy for the president to win with a narrow margin.
All the wealth is concentrated in the President’s hands, he controls the jobs and can hire and fire, there is a climate of fear in the country, and the public media is being used as propaganda machinery for the ruling party and a means to caricature the opposition, he said.
However, he noted that the agenda then sees it prudent for the opposition parties to select “one candidate” to stand against the present executive to ensure votes are not divided. 
The person selected should stand for the “voice of change” that represents everybody who wants change. “If he or she wins, he or she will undertake the necessary reforms to create a level playing field and make some democratic changes such as media to disseminate divergent views, to sanitize the Constitution and return its democratic safeguard and to ensure a two term limit to the presidency to eliminate the notion of kingship in the minds of Gambians.”
He also said the person selected will rule for a period of 3-5 years, and then he or she will not stand again or supports anyone else.

Cocaine worth more than 1 billion USD seized in Banjul
·       NDEA Examines Gambia’s Drug Situation
As part of activities marking International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Drug Trafficking, the National Drug Enforcement Agency, NDEA hold a day symposium on the “Drug Abuse Situation in The Gambia”.
Held at the Kanifing Municipal Council Hall along Jimpex Road on July 16, the Symposium brought together securities, students, teachers, youth organizations, journalists, and civil society to share ideas and work together to make The Gambia a “drug free nation”.
During a presentation on the Health Implications of Illicit Drugs, Ana Marie Mendy, Departmental Matron of the Tanka-Tanka Psychiatric Hospital, said health wellbeing is not merely the absence of disease but the harmonious functioning of the three pillars of health: physical, mental and social wellbeing. 
She said drugs are substances when taken into the human system are able to modify perception, mood and cognitive senses. And that addicts cannot function in the absence of a particular drug and needs repeated doses of the drug to feel high or to avoid the distressing physical and psychological effects of its absence.  
According to her, the most commonly abuse drug in the country is “marijuana” which she said is locally grown and sometimes smuggled into the country from neighboring countries.
“Cannabis sativa contains over 400 chemicals, out of which, the main psychoactive substance is carcinogenic in nature,” she said. “Other drugs abused in The Gambia include Cocaine, and inhalants.”
She quoted the World Health Organisation (WHO) to have said “alcohol accounts for 2.5 million deaths every year, 15.3 million people suffer from drug abuse disorders and quite a proportion of this population reported HIV infection.” 
“Of recent, this West African region is being used as a transit point in illicit drug trafficking especially cocaine and heroin. Without proper intervention it will destroy our youths, affect the country’s socio-economic and human development,” she noted.
She adds that in The Gambia, 75 percent of the patients in the only Psychiatric Hospital had their illness cause or precipitated by drugs and 80 percent of relapsed cases are due to drugs (cannabis and alcohol).
The negative effects of drug abuse, she said is the altering of one’s performance academically, depression, elation (depending on the individual), and loss of motivation. It also affects the limbic and autonomic part of the nervous system resulting in paranoia, anorexia and sleeplessness.
She also noted that drugs causes economic breakdown, corruption, violence and acts as a tool in spreading diseases, causing misery for the abusers, their families and the community.
She stressed that “there is a need to avert a situation she described as a “catastrophic menace” in The Gambia.
Presenting a paper on the Drug Situation in The Gambia, the Public Relation Officer of the NDEA Mr Abdoulie Ceesay reiterated that the Narcotic Court in Banjul is overburdened with drug cases, while the prison is filled-up with drug inmates and trial prisoners.
He noted that statistics on drug seizures in The Gambia show 323 cases of Cannabis Sativa from January-December 2010, forming 90 percent of the overall seizure of drugs registered for the year, including all other types of drugs seized.
Out of these 323 cases, 36 percent involves youths between the ages of 13-25 years.
Thus, Mr. Ceesay note that the number of young people arrested in connection with cannabis abuse is increasing at an “alarming rate” which raises grave concerns.

Cannabis seizure
According to him, 371 people were arrested last year in connection to dealing in cannabis, 352 of them are Gambians, while others include Senegalese, Malians, a Nigerian, and Guineans (Conakry).
37 people, nine of them Gambians were also arrested for allegedly dealing in Cocaine; others are Nigerians, a Cameroonian, an Estonian, a Bissau Guinean, a Ghanaian, Deutsch nationals, a Mexican, a Swedish, and Venezuelans.
Mr Ceesay also noted that on June 4, 2010, the Drug Agency registered its biggest drug seizure of cocaine, amounting to more than two tons (worth more than 1 billion US dollars) at a warehouse at Bonto village in the West Coast Region of The Gambia.
Seven South Americans, a European and an African have since been arrested in connection to this catch and are currently being tried at the Court.
He said another significant seizure of more than one ton of Cannabis Sativa was also seized at Seewol Village, West Coast Region near Cassamance, the Southern Region of neighboring Senegal on August 25, 2010.
“The cannabis was destined to the most densely populated area in the country, the Greater Banjul, and the seizure drastically reduced the supply trend in this region, automatically reducing the demand in the market for both whole sale and retail,” he claimed.

Gov’t. Stance
He said the Government of The Gambia has taken bold steps in the fight against the “drug menace” and drug-related crimes, by strengthening its drug laws in other to make it more stringent and stiff to discourage drug cartels who intend to abuse the hospitality, peace and tranquility of The Gambia.

·       Peace Ambassadors Continues A Ceaseless Quest For Peace
The Youth Ambassadors of Peace (YAP) has been over the years in a ceaseless quest for peace in Africa, a continent where peace seems inexistent due to wars and conflicts that have brought terrible suffering to its people.
The African Union’s Declaration of 2010 as the “Year of Peace and Security in Africa” played a little or no part towards achieving the goal that it was set for, that is, achieving peace on the continent.
However, the YAP has since 2007 embarked on an endless search for peace in Africa through its “International Youth Summer School (IYSS)”, an annual event aimed at enhancing political and cultural tolerance among all people for the realization of the culture of peace for children of Africa and the World.
The 5th anniversary of the IYSS was held on July 16 at The Gambia College Campus in Brikama, a town in the West Coast of The Gambia. Mr Lamin Sanyang, YAP President noted that the programme is hold annually with the hope of succeeding in the quest for peace in Africa.
He said the Summer School, ending on July 21 will discuss issues that are cross cutting and are concerns to all and sundry. This, he said includes issues that they are constantly irritated with, the current situation of the human race which they are determined to reverse.
While noting that it is the responsibility of all, especially the younger generation to see to it that the world is fit for human habitation, he stress the need for all to refocus efforts and actions towards the attainment of world peace.
“Peace is world’s biggest challenge and until we put together our collective and concerted efforts, it will remain the biggest challenge ever faced by the world,” he said.
On his part, the Registrar of The Gambia College Mr. Abubacarr Jallow called on all and sundry to joint hands in embracing the peace.
Narrating the ordeal he and many others went through in while studying in Freetown when the civil war erupts, he said: “In 1997 we were forced to flee the Sierra Leone Capital, Freetown to other destinations and almost lost their academic pursuit owing to the war.
Mr Ansumana Darboe, a member of the YAP said since 2006, they have the zeal of fostering peace, breaking violence and developing youths in peace building, gender, drug awareness, and non-violence. 
Dr. Pierre Gomez, Head of Department of Arts and Science University of The Gambia said the ambition to lead a productive and creative life is fundamental since our destinies lies in our own hands.  This, he said should be the belief of everyone.
Mr. Omar Badjie, Action Aid International – The Gambia applauds the efforts of the YAP in its search for peace, while noting that Africa faces so many problems, which include drought and conflicts.
Mr Fabakary Kalleh, Executive Secretary YAP, noted that peace is the foundation of any meaningful society, including “ours”. He commends Madam Sarah Dumbuya for initiating IYSS in search of peace for Africa.
  • Source: The Voice Newspaper, Banjul-The Gambia

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