By Momodou Jarju
Hundreds of mourners on Monday gathered at the national assembly chambers in Banjul to pay their last tribute to the late Kiang West lawmaker and member of the United Democratic Party (UDP), Fakebba NL Colley.
Colley was laid to rest at Nema Kunku (where he was residing until his demise) after the laying-in-state at the assembly for members to pay him a special homage.
The Gambian politician and father of nine passed away on Saturday at his house in Nema Kunku. He is the second lawmaker to have died after the death of Demba Sowe last year in the current administration of President Adama Barrow.
A native of Dumboto Village in Kiang, Lower River Region, Colley was a founding member of the UDP. He was amongst the UDP Executive Committee Members, who were arrested and imprisoned in 2016 for their peaceful protest demanding for the release of Solo Sandeng dead or Alive.
Speaking at the laying-in-state, Speaker of the National Assembly, Mariam Jack-Denton, said Colley served his people as their representative in the national assembly with vigor and candor.
“We can all attest that throughout his tenure as a national assembly member, because of the incarceration in 2016, Honourable Colley’s health was never the same…. In the assembly Honourable Fakebba NL Colley was calm, tolerant, respectful and a well-mannered gentleman at all times, whether in plenary or in committee sessions. He served the national assembly with distinction” she said.
Sainey Touray, Member for Jarra East speaking on behalf of the majority group, said grief is the price people pay for love, saying they were gathered at the assembly to grieve the loss of their colleague as well as celebrate his “rich life.”
“Honourable speaker, here lies in state, a gentleman of the finest African tradition,” he said, adding that the Lower River Region (LRR) lost a great soul.
Halifa Sallah, Serrekunda lawmaker who spoke on behalf of the minority group, said Colley has shown that a national assembly member is bound by the dictates of conscience and national interest. Sallah said they had witnessed how Colley spoke about the shortcomings of his own constituency and his eyes flash whenever any development is promised for that constituency.
Photo: At the plenary during the laying-in-state, Photo Credit: Matarr Jassey
He further said Colley consistently made inquiries and participated during all debates at the assembly in order to speak his mind.
“He had conviction and did not bother too much about differences in opinions. All colleagues are quite aware that Honourable Colley would rush to pick your hand before you even go to do the same for him, and that’s for everybody. It means that he saw this national assembly as a body of honourable gentle persons who are here for the same purpose and so we should show respect for each other and therefore get the respect that one deserves,” he explained.
The veteran politician also said Colley had served the purpose for which he was elected into the national assembly, saying he had shown his sense of humility, openness and conviction that no one doubts.
Bakery Camara, national assembly member for Kiang Central and a friend of the deceased, said he had shared his inner secrets, wishes and aspirations to his fallen friend cum family relative- as an uncle.
Camara said many of his colleagues will attest to the fact that Colley’s personal opinions and ideas have often times culminated into a lot of important and critical decisions taken especially at committee level.
“Honourable Colley had always emphasized on giving back and spending on family, relatives and people that he represents” he said.
Mr. Ousmana Colley, speaking on behalf of the deceased family, said the deceased is a truthful person. He pleaded with all and sundry to forgive the deceased if he had done wrong to any one knowingly or unknowingly. He prayed for God to grant him paradise.
James Gomez, Minister of Fisheries and Water Resources and National Assembly Affairs, speaking on behalf of the government, expressed the Cabinet’s condolences and paid tribute to the assembly on the demise of their colleague, Colley.
“Honourable speaker, as we grieve the loss, I join you to praise Honourable Fakebba Colley. We pay tribute to a passionate and progressive politician who epitomizes the best humanity,” he said.
Minister Gomez thanked late Colley for his sacrifice for the country and people and prayed that God grant him the highest place in heaven.