Kuntaur Area Council Chairperson Explains his Overstay in US to FPAC

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By: Kebba AF Touray

Sahiou Jawara, the Chairperson of Kuntaur Area Council, has provided an explanation regarding his overstay in the United States of America.

During his appearance before members of the Finance and Public Accounts Committee of the National Assembly for the presentation of the council’s activity reports and financial statements for scrutiny, consideration and adoption, Jawara submitted reasons for his overstay in the US. 

He told members of FPAC that the World Conference of Mayors have committed to support at least US$500 million or approximately D31 billion for projects for the Gambia Government. Mr Jawara’s explanation on his over stay in the US came on heels of concerns from FPAC members on the salaries of staff of Council being paid, when the Chairperson was away and whether he was lawfully or unlawfully away.

He informed FPAC members that a US$15 Million project will be implemented in 2024, and the project is geared towards having different loans for both regional and central governments, and expressed his thoughts that the progress that they have achieved will be realized in a short period of time.

Further providing more explanation around his over stay, the Chairperson of Kuntaur Area Council, Sahiou Jawara told FPAC members that his over stay has been a tough issue. 

“But sometimes you pay a deaf ear and work for the progress of every one. When I was out there, I heard about all the news because everything that happens nowadays is available everywhere,” he said. 

He said he heard about all that was happening, but was constantly in touch with his people especially the CEO and the Deputy Chairperson; That they even had a zoom meeting with the general council, some of whom he said were not happy with his over stay despite his achievements. He said investors were also part of the zoom meeting and they spoke to officials of the general council about the developments being achieved. He expressed his hope that most of the projects he was pursuing during his over stay will be realized, adding that his four-month stay was a duration he utilized adequately.

“The Local Government Act stated that if a Councilor or any other member of the council wants to move for more than three consecutive sittings, you have to write to the Chairperson, but in this instance, it was the Chairperson who travelled. So I realized that superior to the Chairperson is the line Ministry and I wrote to the Ministry and copied to the general Council,” he said. 

He added that this was what he did, and expressed that he was in line as stipulated in the Local Government Act.

The CEO of the Council explained that it is against the law for a Chairperson to be away for four months, and said no officer can leave their posts for more than the prescribed period.

In his response to Mr. Jawara, Hon. Alhagie S Darboe, the Chairperson of FPAC said there was a concern on the payment of salaries for the Chairperson while he was away, and said if he was lawfully away, then the payment of his salary is alright. He said that otherwise, the payment of the Chairperson’s salaries was unlawful, if he was unlawfully away.

“That is the financial aspect of the matter. Regarding the administrative aspect, we will refer to the Local Government Committee to look into the genesis and justifications around your over stay,” FPAC Chairperson Hon. Alhagie S Darboe, told Mr. Jawara.