The leader of the People’s Democratic Organisation for Independence and Socialism has finally got a reply to his barrage of attacks on the Gambia’s Coalition government. Hon. Halifa Sallah’s party is a member of a Coalition that dislodged Yahya Jammeh from power in December last year. Except the PDOIS, all other members agreed to be part of the government. The PDOIS party still remains a Coalition member, despite its leader’s sustained attack on the government’s policies and programmes. However, Halifa’s London statement that the next change must be a system change has gotten into the Coalition leaders’ skin. They could not understand why such a statement would come from a partner who “rejected to take a position that would give him the responsibility to get the nation out of the situation in which it relies on others to give it charity. It is easier for Hon. Sallah to criticize than take responsibility where he can be accountable to the people.”

Find below the government’s reaction to Halifa Sallah’s London speech through Director of Press Mrs. Amie Bojang-Sissoho below.

Rejoinder to the caption: “The next change must be a system change” – Halifa’s stirring London speech

The richness of leadership is the ability to accommodate, listen and provide advice and guidance to the people who entrust you with the leadership. While Sulayman Bah UK would like to present Honourable Halifa Sallah’s speech to his audience in UK as incredible, it is important to move beyond political canvassing and polemics to provide facts on the realities of the country we all love.

Kindly allow me to shed light on the issues Sulayman Bah UK attributed to Honourable Sallah regarding the situation since December 2016.

It is no secret that in December 2016, over 200,000 Gambians, took practical steps to vote in Adama Barrow as leader of the Coalition. Hundreds of thousands more invested their energy, time and financial resources to ensure we give The Gambia a new beginning. These are people committed to uplift the lives of Gambians with dignity and respect. While the levels of sacrifices differ from one person or group to the other, all the sacrifices must be commended and respected. As a reminder, in case some forgot, the Coalition government until the time of this publication is made of the following:

United Democratic Party
National Reconciliation Party
People Democratic Party for Independent and Socialism
The People Progressive Party
Gambia Moral Congress
Gambia People Democratic Party
National Convention Party
Dr. Isatou Touray – Independent Presidential Aspirant
Therefore all those who were committed to the change, should continue to guard, guide and nurture it.

Government requires teamwork where no one person alone can make a difference but a combination of efforts to change a system. The fact that it was reported in FOROYAA that Honourable Halifa stated that “…Despite defeating Jammeh after 22 years of self-perpetuation …from the Coalition government, nothing seems to have improved the living standard of ordinary Gambians…” needs reflection.

This remark by Hon. Halifa Sallah insinuating that nothing has changed to improve the lives of the people and comparing this government to the former dictatorial regime is a distortion of facts. This is unfair given the efforts that are already in place by this government with the support of Gambians to move away from the difficult era of the former regime.

It is therefore important to take a good lens to capture those efforts and what has changed since “The Gambia is in the hands of its citizens” to see how the Coalition government is not “reminiscent of the APRC government days”.

The first expression of change that is not “reminiscent of the APRC government days” is that citizens found their voice. They are now free to express their opinion without fear or favour and can go home and not fear that at 3:00 a.m, someone in the name of the government would drag them out of their house and deny their family the right to even know why they are being taken away.

Since the Coalition Government took over, the vehicular traffic at the Gambia Ports Authority bringing basic commodities among others has exceeded the current capacity of the Ports to handle. This increase in economic activity is a result of the conducive business environment created by this government leading to the stability of prices of basic commodities which are in fact generally going down. It is also important to know that government has already taken the decision for the port to operate 24 hours creating more employment and improving timely service delivery.

Furthermore, Barrow government has reduced the price of fuel three times in less than a year with its positive rippling effects on commodity prices and availability across the country.

The Gambia has moved from regional and global isolation to a state of recognition and respect; and a new dawn of hope for its citizens. Traditional partners have regained confidence to engage the Barrow government in mutual respect and support to garner the desires and hopes of the citizens. This is not symptomatic of “poor policies and poor leadership.”

We now live in a connected and interdependent world where governments/countries collaborate and work in partnership to support each other in the interest of mutual sustainable development. As part of international cooperation, countries acquire grants, loans and other forms of support including foreign direct investment to help grow their economies. No country relies solely on taxation to move its development agenda and to put it bluntly no nation is self-sufficient. The Gambia is no exception and does not accrue enough tax to be able to execute all its development aspirations.

Presenting its policies to partners both within and outside for support as well as fiscal discipline have improved the foreign exchange reserve from its precarious state of less than one month import cover with a debt burden of 120% beyond the recommended 70% debt of any country to 4 months. It is unfortunate that this is interpreted as a nation relying on “charity” for its development.

The performances of some State Owned Enterprises –such as NAWEC, GNPC and GAMTEL/GAMCEL, were low and government had to step in to settle their external obligations, thus putting undue pressure on the Gambian Dalasi and the reserve level.

It is clear that there needs to be a structural change to the budget and prioritization of growth enhancing expenditure such as development projects. Without these measures increasing salaries will be extremely unwise at this time.

In order to improve the economic environment, the Coalition government is engaged in initiating difficult measures to deal with the numerous challenges resulting from poor economic governance of the former regime. These include but are not limited to Public sector restructuring and rationalization plan, implementation of a government vehicle policy and business travel policies.

The change of government has boosted youth confidence and self esteem. The new administration’s policy on youth is to enlighten them on their rights and empower youths to take responsibility to initiate, innovate and contribute to nation building and most are not relying on government to build their lives. The first project signed by the new Government is centered around youth empowerment through funding from the European Union (EU). The 11million Euro Project focuses on youth employment creation in the areas of agribusiness, ICT and Tourism aiming to provide high quality skills training for potential youth entrepreneurs and startups. This project includes a mini grant and loan scheme for youth Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). To effectively respond to the needs of young people not just as a cross cutting issue in our development frameworks as it used to exist in the Gambia, a whole component on youth empowerment and development has been incorporated in the National Development Plan (NDP). Similarly, a specific pillar on youth has also been incorporated in the ongoing development of The Gambia National Agriculture Investment Plan (GNAIP) 2 to comprehensively address the issues of youth in The Gambia.

There has also been an increased space for youth political participation in the new dispensation. The Gambia can today be proud of the democratic space that guarantees freedom of expression. During the last National Assembly Election young people of The Gambia worked with all stakeholders to improve awareness on youth engagement and to increase their number in the political space through the #NotTooYoungToRun campaign. The Gambia is today hailed as having one of the youngest elected members in the National Assembly in the sub region.
This cannot be “reminiscent of APRC government days” when every youth’s desire was to leave the country. Gambians in exile are returning home to contribute to nation building and to nurture the change.

On agriculture, the Coalition government encourages and empowers farmers to work on their own farms to “reap what they sow” and ordinary citizens are not forced to spend valuable time on the President’s farm. It has provided farmers $25 million worth of fertilizer and seeds. This definitely is not “reminiscent of APRC government days”.

On waste management, the new government encourages people to use their conscience and commitment to environment sanitation to clean the environment and manage the domestic waste it produces and not force people and businesses to stop all activities to clean their environment and at the end of the day does not have the mechanism to collect and dispose the waste. The Coalition government has improved daily management of waste at the dump site at Bakoteh and has further committed to waste management through a Public Private Partnership which seeks to provide a comprehensive solution to waste management in The Gambia.

The Coalition government inherited bad institutional policies and practices. To change such a system will require having knowledge of the depth of destruction in our institutions, policies to institutionalize best practices and committed citizens to execute the plan to implement the policies. It requires re-orientation of the workforce and commitment to the nation and not an individual. It is misplaced to state a comparison and conclude that the new regime is “reminiscent of APRC government days”.

The APRC Government had the opportunity to amend the Constitution removing the barriers to enable eligible Gambians in the Diaspora to vote or be voted for. Did they do it? Of course no. It is not the new government that deprived the Diaspora from voting and contesting to be President, National Assembly Member or Councilor. In fact the new government is in the process of drafting a new Constitution that will accommodate all Gambians to take part in the political, economic and social life of the country. The new government recorded the highest number of contestants in the National Assembly election, a demonstration of a vibrant democracy where people feel that they own the nation. This cannot be “reminiscent of APRC government days”, when if it was known that citizens aspired for political positions, their lives were in danger and could result to torture, maiming and even death of citizens.

The judiciary has been “Gambianised” by encouraging our legal luminaries to serve the country with dedication to justice with the appointment of a Gambian as Chief Justice. Gender representation was also given consideration with the appointment of numerous female Judges at the superior courts.

The Coalition government is working to ensure that citizens recognize the damage that has been done to the nation and its organs of management and governance. No sincere person will expect the new government to increase government pay. Instead the government has to further cut on its expenditure. For instance the office of the President had cut expenditure by 75% since the new administration came to power.

The Coalition government under the leadership of President Adama Barrow empowers all citizens to work together to build a country we can all be proud of. That is why Halifa Sallah was offered the opportunity to bring in his “policies” that will not subject the government to rely on others to develop the country. He rejected to take a position that would give him the responsibility to get the nation out of the situation in which it relies on others to give it charity. It is easier for Hon. Sallah to criticize than take responsibility where he can be accountable to the people.

Ends

28 Comments

  1. Kemo Touray says:

    Halifa Sallah is an enemy of peace; he and Yaya Jammeh are the same, and am not surprise that he did not take a cabinet position in the coalition government. Halifa is an irresponsible fool.

  2. Baboucarr Loum says:

    Halifa has nothing to complain about. He made it clear that he would not work under Barrow for fear of being fired, which ultimately can ruin his political career. That is sheer selfishness. He had the opportunity to be part of the solution but his high ego would not allow him. Halifa should just stop attacking the government. He is demeaning himself.

  3. The content is hard to stomach especially by us PDOIS talibes. Sallah Ngari lay down your arms because you have lost both the battle and war.

  4. Luntango (Degaleh Wagh, Tabaa Bung Bang Yekumofo) says:

    Sad really but I can say much for fear of CHOPs (Comrade Halifa’s Online Partisans). But the Press Statement has therein the Statement of the Year:-
    “Halifa Sallah was offered the opportunity to bring in his “policies” that will not subject the government to rely on others to develop the country. He rejected to take a position that would give him the responsibility to get the nation out of the situation in which it relies on others to give it charity. It is easier for Hon. Sallah to criticize than take responsibility where he can be accountable to the people”

    • How can you call this the “statement of the year”, my in-law? Does whoever authored this press release not know that the National Assembly is also an institution of responsibility, where members can be, and should be, held accountable?

      Isn’t it an irony that a press release that talks about “responsibility” and “accountability” has actually abysmally fallen short of both by being anonymous.

      I even doubt the origin of this press release, and until someone stands up and claims it, it shouldn’t be accepted as emanating from the office and authority (Press Sec/OP) it is being attributed to. We got to be serious. This is a joke. An absolute joke.

  5. Whoever authored this release needs to be asked this question: Where is the assurance that Halifa’s ” “policies” that would not subject the government to rely on others to develop the country “, would have been incorporated into government plans, if he had accepted a Cabinet Position?

    Isn’t it the case, as per the evidence before us, that they would have been ignored, whilst he would either have been forced to remain in Cabinet and accept collective responsibility for policies he obviously doesn’t agree with, or resign from Cabinet and be accused of all sorts of crimes?

    After all, wasn’t the MOU jettisoned soon after power was assumed and tasted, and we were all told that President Barrow, after successfully accompanying the coalition into battle to defeat Jammeh, has from then on, gone back to his true home. Is the implication and significance of such a publicly declared statement lost on you, my in-law? Trust me, it wasn’t lost on many of us.

  6. Whether we agree with him or not, Hon Halifa and PDOIS have policies that can set the country on a sound economic footing that would reverse current trends of total dependence on others for our every developmental needs.
    In the fisheries sector, for example, this administration has signed a number of agreements with Senegal to allow fishing in our waters by Senegalese fishermen. As far as I am aware, current policies in this sector are not different from past two governments, where revenue to government in this sector mainly comes from the issuing of fishing licenses.
    Halifa’s policies in this sector, amongst many, is to make it a requirement for the fish caught in our waters by foreign vessels to be landed on our shores, processed to add value to the products and exported as our products. This would create jobs, earn forex for the country, increase our productivity and impact our GDP upwards annually. Domestically, we know what their policies are. Are these being incorporated?

    • Bax , Halifa has only one ambition and that is he want to become next president of the country. As for speakership, he cannot be speaker because he has no support base in the country. I think he is just an empty barrel who like to make huge sound once in a while. I am not worry about him because I know he has no good policies or support base. I don’t think he even understand his job description because if he truly understand his job he can bring forward a better legislation agenda to advance our democracy and economic development. I am yet to hear from him . It is absolutely shocking to hear from him that the current government is just like the government of his progeny , Dictator yaya jammeh, the man he refused to call a dictator.

      • You are a master of distortion and misrepresentation and as usual, you haven’t failed. Halifa’s position on system change and things seeming to be unchanged for many, is very clearly understood by people whose judgements are not clouded like yours.
        He can bring legislation agenda to advance our democracy, and if he does, you will be the first to jump up and accuse him of everything under the sun.
        What do you know about “good” policies, if you can’t see that a policy to map out Gambia’s natural resources, as a priority, harness them, pay the proceeds into the consolidated Revenue Fund and inform the nation, is a good policy.

        • What do you know about “good” policy, if you can’t see that establishing a National Cooperative Bank with our own funds (not waiting for some imaginary investor to establish one for us), and using it to provide farmers with seeds, fertiliser and tools to increase production, is a good policy.
          What do you know about policy, if you can’t see that PDOIS proposal to amend the criminal procedure code to ensure that any statement taken from a person who has been under detention for more than 72 hours would be inadmissible in court, is a good policy for the protection of fundamental rights.
          Carry on with your ignorance. That’s your privilege Max.

      • Halifa is not in the cabinet but he has used the national assembly to tell them how to run a government with sound economic policies.

        Is the government interested in what he has said?

        Halifa has said in the national assembly that to run a responsible government one has to get the capacity to formulate a plan and then translate those plans into policies that will uplift the living standards of the people.

        He cited an example of the women who crowded the street where he lives in Serrekunda every morning to sell their produce.

        These women came from faraway places in the kombo areas and at the end of the day they can sell only few of their produce and the rest they took back home or sell at bargain prices because it would all end up being garbage because they have no storage facilities.

        The solution: Halifa proffered that those women should not have been in that street in the first place.

        And their absence from that street would have solved the congestion in that street and allow free vehicular traffic.

        The government could have devised a plan in which the produced of these women could be bought from the source and marketing outlets created to market these produce or create industries that will add value to these produce.

        The economic growth that can result from this single economic activity can lift a lot of people out of poverty.

        Imagine the service industry that would be created: storage facilities; ice plants and marketing and transportation outlets.

        This transition government has a transition agenda and a transition program. Let them follow that agenda and program.

        Are you people telling us that the transition government doesn’t have the capacity to carry out its reform agenda without Halifa serving as a cabinet minister?

        • Kamalo

          Don’t mind these critics of Mr Sallah. They knew very well that what you have just said are the ideas that Halifa has been propagating and advocating for in and out of the assembly both during the first and second republic and now. And they know that the Barrow government is not deprived of Halifa,s good ideas even though he is not in the cabinet. So what is required of this government is honesty and sincerity to take the good ideas from him and others and transform them into reality. Otherwise if they failed, it will not be because they lack good ideas but it will be because of their unwillingness to take in the new ideas and give-up the same old ideas and policies that the previous governments has been implementing for the past five decades without having any positive impact on the life of the citizenry.

    • Janjanbureh says:

      Bax, stop fooling yourself and other venerable people. PDOIS policies cannot even fix village problems, you are talking about the whole nation of The Gambia. Halifa has no serious job experience nor did he have the educational background. Do you think the rest of the people are dumb? A man who don’t want to be led can never lead others.

      • Janjanbureh, according to Halifa, he didn’t want a job where he could be fired. Such thinking is the hallmark of a dictator. In his mind he think nobody should lead him. He has no real job experience or qualifications as you indicated.

        • There is a huge gulf between a person who doesn’t want to take a job, where his principled positions could get him fired, and a dictator. How could you connect the two.

  7. Luntango (Degaleh Wagh, Tabaa Bung Bang Yekumofo) says:

    My in-law, two things:-
    1. You can’t compare being a State Minister with Executive Power and a Budget to being an MP or NAM. If Halifa had accepted being a Minister, he would actually be EXECUTING projects on the ground up and down the country. As it is, he is just ONE of 50 MPs whose job is basically to TALK.
    2. It is rediculous for Halifa to argue that he REFUSED a Ministerial position because he ANTICIPATED disagreements! If ANTICIPATED fear of disagreements made people refuse jobs, Barrow would not have a single Minister. The FACT is this:- Halifa refused the Ministerial appointment BECAUSE HE EXPECTED TO WIN 20-PLUS SEATS IN THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY – and get the Speaker’s post (The 3rd State position after the President and Vice-President). Halifa simply miscalculated.

    • Why do you keep repeating this speaker conspiracy theory? Elected members can’t be speakers and it is the President who nominate members that become speakers. Halifa was seeking membership of NA through elections. He can’t be the speaker, even if he wins 20 seats. That’s the FACT; not the FICTION you keep repeating, my in law.

    • Of course, I can’t compare the two, but not for reasons you give. For me, Parliament, as an oversight institution, is far more important than a Ministerial position. After all, ministers are just advisers and assistants of the President, who is their boss. MPs are the bosses of all of them and tasked with guiding, scrutinizing and facilitating their jobs.
      As for projects, does it really matter who executes them up and down the country? Not to me, as long as it reaches and benefits the people. It makes no difference for people who don’t want politics of deceiving the people: the type that pretends that without them, such and such projects will not come to the people.
      I suspect that you know Halifa long enough to understand that he wouldn’t indulge in such a practice.

  8. You can distort, ridicule, caricature, spin, put Halifa’s statements out of context but without radical system change and breaking many vicious cycles in certain systems and democratic process taking it’s course during transition period the nation will continue to be in serious political crisis!

    Coalition Transition Programmes (blueprint if any available or well defined, develop, implemented and effective) are embodiment of “system change” during transition period towards the end of transition, gradually.

    That’s what Halifa Sallah is sensitising on. That “Regime Change” which was first phase to end tyranny has been achieved next is radical “system changes” (including breaking certain vicious cycles) must be achieved.

    The GRTS State House Press Release addressed Sulayman Bokar Bah so Saul will set the records straight but not Halifa Sallah.

    Halifa Sallah is waiting and will observe developments to clarify further as Secretary General of PDOIS!

    “Battle of ideas has began” Halifa Sallah quote!

    • Dawda , Halifa is not an intelligent politician by any standard because he was in support of Military coup and later pretentiously behave like an opposition leader but he was actually an agent of military dictatorship. He is doing the same thing now . He pretended to be part of opposition coalition while he was trying to consolidate his political influence for presidential ambitions . His recent European tour is a clear indication of his desire to become the next president of the country but he failed to recognize that he is already a loser because he has been antagonistic to diaspora who he claimed to be ” war mongers “. Diaspora had fought hard to get rid military dictatorship and now he is canvassing support from diaspora . Sulayman Bah , who claimed that peaceful protest was a “distraction ” , is one of inexperienced people Mr Sallah is associated with. Mr Bah and Sallah both do not understand Gambian politics because they are disconnected with the reality . The Gambia has decided and people like Mr Sallah who has zero connection with indigenous citizens will never be the president of the country. What matters most in our country is the voice of the indigenous citizens. He can continue to make whatever noice he want . All hats no cattle . Just an empty barrel.

      • The same old crap from you Max…Do you think it bothers Halifa whether he is president or not? We will reap the benefits or pay the price collectively for whoever we vote. The joke is on us for the wrong choices we made and continue to make.

        Halifa is invited by the diaspora communities in Europe, some of whom are not even Gambians. Here in Birmingham, a separate meeting has to be arranged for him to meet the Gambian Community, because he was a guest of the Caribbean community.

        Stop your falsehoods my brother. The world is too small. Hon Sallah did not just get up and decide to tour Europe. He was INVITED by different diaspora communities. Get used to it.

  9. Luntango (Degaleh Wagh, Tabaa Bung Bang Yekumofo) says:

    “Battle of ideas has began” Halifa Sallah quote! Really Dawda? Did Halifa say that recently? The “Battle of Ideas Began” when PDOIS was born – in 1980?
    I think Comrade Halifa is better off coming out HONESTLY and saying:
    “I am an Anti-Free Market SOCIALIST” and “Barrow, Darboe and Co. are Free-Market CAPITALISTS” … and that is why we can’t work together.
    Of course, Comrade Halifa does not want to say that … because even our 10-bags a year village peanut farmer is a Free-Market Capitalist (as Comrade Stalin in Russia found out!).

    • Did Hon Sallah say those words or did someone attribute them to him? I think someone did.
      Does he have to be honest about that? I thought he made his anti-Free Market capitalism crystal clear.
      Oh Noooooooooooo my in law, I think you got something mixed up here. The 10-bag a year village peanut farmer is NOT a Free Market Capitalist. He may be a TRADER, but not a free market capitalist. I think you are confusing “Trade” with “Free market capitalism”. The two are not the same.
      Trade has existed for thousands of years, whilst free market capitalism is a fairly recent economic innovation or rather, distortion of classical economics. Free market capitalism is the feudalism of the 21st century, but far more dangerous than at any time, due to its militaristic component and global outreach.

      • Luntango (Degaleh Wagh, Tabaa Bung Bang Yekumofo) says:

        OK, my in-law, the 10-bags a year peanut farmer bit was a bit of an exageration on my part. But we agree: Halifa is anti-Capitalist and Barrow’s Government is Capitalist and the twain shall never meet!

        • Thus, it makes sense to “meet” in parliament, where their interests, at least, for political reforms converge. Let Barrow’s capitalist Cabinet be filled by those who share the same Capitalist ideals. That is a win-win for us all.

        • How is Halifa anti-capitalist?

          Can you give any indications luntango where Halifa has talked about capitalism? Or even about socialism.

    • Very eloquent guy. I’ve listened for about 15mins in Wollof. I would say that he is echoing Halifa’s call for system change, through the citizenry. Halifa says it all the time: A new Gambia is inconceivable without a new Gambian. Anyway, so much for all that. Change of vibes now.

      There’s events of far eaching consequences going on elsewhere. First to Kenya. Tell me, where’s your vote? The Kenyatta Dynasty or the Odinga Dynasty.

Disclaimer: Views expressed in this section are the author's own and do not represent the editorial policy of Kairo News. Kairo News will trash any comment that inflames tribal, racial or religious hatred.

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