By Yankuba Jallow
Halifa Sallah, the Secretary General and presidential flag bearer of PDOIS said The Gambia needs a system change. He said this on Sunday as his party unveiled their Transformative Agenda (TA 2021).
He said the people need services such as education, health, energy, transport and telecommunication among others.
“We need services and we need quality. We need affordable and accessible services. That is why we establish government,” Sallah said.
He said the government must build institutions that will supervise access to service.
He said the people also need security.
“We need safety and that is why we have security services,” he said, adding both civil and security services are needed for development.
He said we need to come up with the laws, policies, programmes, strategic planning and projects in order to make those services available, adding those are the knowledge base for building a state.
“PDOIS will create a mobile police force, transform the army into a production force capable of bringing about work. We need a productive service both civil and security force,” he said.
Sallah said the life expectancy in the country is less than 70 years, adding ‘many have gone before us and many will still go’.
The former minority leader mentioned that poverty is prevalent in the country at a rate of over 40% of the population. He said most of Gambians were born in poverty, lived in poverty and have died in poverty while leaving their families in poverty.
He pointed out that ignorance is a factor hindering the development of the country, adding this is what PDOIS has always stood to eradicate.
“Wherever there is ignorance, there cannot be progression,” he said.
He said no one should see himself or herself as a subordinate to any person or authority, but a sovereign person who has the power to elect their leaders of their choice.
He told the delegates that the current system desires to maintain the status quo which is to keep people ignorant.
System change, Sallah said, will help in improving the living condition of the people by taking them out of poverty. He explained that the poverty rate in the country is high and the current system cannot eradicate poverty considering their policies and programmes.
He said the country has a debt burden of over 67 billion dalasis and this increases every year since the current system relies on taxation and loan for the development of the country.
Sallah said the journey of PDOIS has been long because there are people bent on maintaining the system with the sole intention of not having enlightened citizens. He explained that people were made to believe that those who want to bring about change are satanic or opposition to the development of the country.
“We [referring to the PDOIS leadership] have spent all our life on the path of struggle to liberate our people from ignorance and eradicate poverty,” he said.
Sallah said the party persisted and eventually succeeded in 2016 in bringing about a regime change.
He said the system the party sought to change in 2016 made the people believe that they were powerless, hopeless and voiceless.
“Even though sovereignty resides in them [referring to the people], people still do not realise how powerful they are to vote or change any person or authority, but are made to believe that they are less important to their leaders,” he said.
He mentioned that on the 24th April 1970, the Republican constitution came into being and on the 16th January 1997 the current constitution came into being.
“The provisions therein provide that the people are sovereign and gave them the power to vote in their leaders, and to change them,” he said.
Sallah maintained that the power of the people as sovereign is supreme which no person or authority can take over.
“Through the power of awareness and organization, we can transform this country,” Sallah said.
He told the delegates that PDOIS owes no individual or company any obligations, adding the party members and supports are the people financing the party. He pointed out that unlike PDOIS; there are other political parties who would go to individuals to collect money from them for their use. He stated that such funding attracts string and thus, the receiving party would owe the funder obligation.
“Today, that refusal is yielding fruit. That PDOIS will not owe any obligation to anyone in the face of this earth. That only people would entrust us with leadership and defend their sovereignty. PDOIS will defend that,” Sallah said.
“We are conscious of our national duty. If you hate we will serve you. If you like us, we will serve you. We are here for services with no expectation in return,” he said.
He said the number of seats the party has at the National Assembly or the cabinet should not be used to pass judgment onto them, but the contributions they have made for the country, citing the contributions PDOIS has been doing trying to bring about a change of regime by utilising the power of the people through the ballot box which they eventually achieved in 2016.
Read our subsequent publications for more on the congress and the TA 2021.