June 28, 2022

The Independent lawmaker in the Gambia National Assembly and a member of the delegation to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Parliament, Fatoumata Njai said country reports presented at the Parliament do not reflect the reality on the ground in various member states.

According to her this came to light at a joint Committee meeting of Political Affairs, Peace, Security and APRM, Legal Affairs and Human Rights, Social Affairs, Gender and Women Empowerment, Administration, Finance and Budget and Public Account at the ongoing 2022 First Ordinary Session in Abuja-Nigeria, where it was pointed out that leaders within the West African sub-region are praised until they are no more.

“I think it is the norm in the sub-region and Africa at large; we are not genuine to ourselves, we just say what people want to hear instead of telling them what should be said. I do not have friends because I do not miss my words; I do not beat around the bush, I say it as it is, I believe it’s the reason why I was given a second term”, she said in an interview.

She further pointed out that, during their engagement with the Commission’s technical team, the former President of Guinea Alpha Conde when the early warnings were identified, reports were written, recommendations were made, he would script them off and say “I do not want to hear this and they would say what he want to hear. For me I do not believe in that. It is just the same in my country –Gambia; example the World Bank would come and praise Yahya Jammeh when he was a dictator, until now when the report started coming, they all said they knew it, and did not say so”. As to what her point was, she pointed that it is the same thing with reading reports. “We praise repots; for me to be honest, most of the reports that we read do not reflect the true and real aspect of the countries”.

“I have said and always say but then we adopted the Senegal report and not address the real issues. Three people have died already. Last year 11 people died, it’s never mentioned, we are not being genuine and honest to our citizens by coming here”, he lamented.

She added that, she would not blame the government for what is happening in Senegal neither would she blame the opposition but then again, if an opposition leader who has been in Parliament for that long witnesses the passing of the parity law.

Like she said during the joint Committee meeting, is it deliberate to make a mistake on the list or was it a genuine error? No one can tell. You cannot have your cake and eat it. As a law maker you know the parity laws, respect them and have your list approved. If you do not respect it, face the law.

She called for respect for the law in our respective countries, so it does not give the government the right to impose sanction on us or to send the military or security person on citizens.

On whether if technical experts are allowed to present the country reports would change the dynamics, she responded saying; “it is Members of Parliament who would adopt the reports; and if the experts give their honest opinions, MPs would be the ones to defend their countries.

“Most of us are not here to represent our people, they are rather here to defend the government; as fortunately for me, I am in opposition, that is why i can speak my honest opinion and I am also independent. It means I do not have a party, it’s my people that are my party, citizens of the Community should be awaken to this fact and try to control the powers that the government would have by making sure that Parliament always has opposition and independent majority”.

That way, the government’s power can be controlled, otherwise even if experts present, nothing would happen. You see as it is in Guinea, they had observers report but still the majority of representation there were part of the government, and they would stand and defend and deny any wrong doing.

Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/Ghanamps.com/Abuja-Nigeria