Protestors demand withdrawal of salary bills for NAMs, Judicial Officers  

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By Assan Bah

The ‘Concerned Citizens Movement have’ during a peaceful protest on Monday at the National Assembly in Banjul, called for the withdrawal of the National Assembly Salaries and Pensions Bill and the Judicial Officers Remunerations and other Entitlements Bill. They have made eight demands and have threatened a nationwide protest if those demands are not met.

Speaking to reporters at after presenting their demands to authorities, Mr Lamin Manneh an executive member of the movement said: “The Concerned Citizens, both at home and abroad, civil servants, public and the private sector, employed and unemployed wish to convey our concerns through a peaceful protest about the proposed bills to be tabled at the National Assembly designed to increase salaries and pensions of the Members of the National Assembly as well as remuneration and other entitlements of judicial officers.

He said: “It is our belief that members of the National Assembly decided to operate unconstitutionally, hence the 1997 constitution of the Gambia section 112 subsection B clearly stipulates that all members shall regard themselves as servants of the people of the Gambia and desist from any conduct by in which they seek improperly to enrich themselves or alienate themselves from the people and shall discharge their duties and functions in the interest of the nation and in doing so, shall be influenced by the dictates,  conscience and the national interest.

“Regarding the clause from the Constitution, we as concerned citizens and tax payers who ought to be served by the members of the national assembly as enshrined in the Constitution are unequivocally opposed to these bills that are aimed at serving or enriching the members of the NA and Judiciary over the general public as a whole.

“Sadly, these bills are proposed at a time when majority of the civil servants and the private sector employees barely feed themselves and their families from their salaries for half a month due to the escalating prices of goods. The majority of young people are unemployed living them vulnerable to drugs and irregular migration. Addressing these unfortunate conditions that the majority of Gambians are facing should be the focus of a house that is supposed to be a guardian of the people by making laws that address the needs and aspirations of the general public.

They made the following demands which they said they want the members of the NA to address in the soonest possible time.

“We unequivocally demand this bill [the National Assembly and Pensions Bill] to be withdrawn from the Assembly since it is aimed at serving the interest of the members and enriching the members of the assembly over the general public;

“Withdraw the Judicial Officers Bill 2024; Fair compensation for all public servants ensuring that salaries and benefits are aligned with the country’s realities and do not create significant disparities.

“Equitable allocation of national resources. We urge government to prioritise the allocation of national resources to critical sectors such as education, agriculture, security, health and to improve the living standards of people.

“The accountability mechanism of NAMs. We call for mechanisms that will avail the electorate to hold their members to account for their decisions and their actions ensuring they act in the interest of their constituents.

“The sixth one is the promotion of social justice. We advocate for policies to promote social justice and reduce income inequality, ensuring that all citizens have the opportunity to live a decent live in the Gambia;

“The seventh demand is for NAMs to engage people before passing critical bills since they are not only representing themselves but the interest of the people;

“The final demand is for government to introduce a new pay scale. To priorities the well-being of all Gambian civil servants and introduce salaries and a pensions’ bill that will ensure teachers, nurses, security officers and other key workers receive better salaries.

“Failure to approve these demands we shall organise a nationwide protest. We are your brothers and sisters who are only fighting to ensure that there is economic justice.