Sidia Jatta Challenges Lawmakers to Stand against Ministerial Absence in Parliament


By: Kebba AF Touray

The National Assembly Member for Wuli West, Sidia Jatta, has challenged his fellow lawmakers to take firm stance to end the absence of ministers in parliamentary proceedings.

Jatta made the statement on Monday 4th October 2021, during the continuation of the debate of the State of Nation Address (SoNA) delivered by President Adama Barrow on Thursday 9th September 2021.

“It is not the role of the vice president to come here (National Assembly) and answer issues raised about those sectors. The vice president has no responsibility to do that. The vice president is here to deal with overarching policy matters, but not sector matters,” he said.

“I don’t know why the ministers keep on refusing to come to this assembly, when they know that they cannot do their work without this assembly and I think we are the ones making them do that.

“I think we should decide once and for all today that this matter will come to a halt or no business of the government will be dealt with in this assembly. If we don’t do that, this country will never move forward. It is our responsibility to ensure that what happens here is in tune with the law,” Jatta challenged the legislature.

Jatta explained that the vice president should not be allowed to respond to issues raised by parliamentarians regarding the basic education ministry, higher education ministry, health, infrastructure among other sectors, because those issues do not fall under her responsibility.

He said the lawmakers made salient views on the President’s address, but there was no minister present to respond to the views expressed by the lawmakers on State of the Nation Address 2021, regarding their ministries.

Deliberating further, Jatta said the President has not talked about the experiment on the teaching of national languages as a medium of instruction for a certain period, before a child is transited to learning English. He said they have not received any report on the said experiment.

He said he started the experiment in 1979, but it collapsed because of the refusal of the government to administer their own policy, which led to his resignation from the government in 1986.

Jatta however said a new experiment has restarted years ago, which most of the lawmakers don’t know about. He said the experiment aims to help to enhance the cognitive capacity of children to learn languages with ease.                                                                                                           “Experiment has proven that the previous three years is not adequate. The experiment is being done here in a haphazard way, because it is being done here in a situation wherein the building constructor wants to build the foundation and the wall at the same time,” he said.

“This is not a matter for the Executive alone, but for both the National Assembly Members and the Executive.”

Jatta said it is the duty of Parliamentarians to make laws to stop the practice. He added the draft constitution would have solved the problem, but it was also negated at the National Assembly for no reason.

Jatta challenged the government to address the issue of land conflicts in the country in a comprehensive way.

“Efforts have been made but to me they are haphazard efforts, because we need to deal with land issues in a very comprehensive way nationwide,” he said.

On agriculture, Jatta said the sector is generally regarded as the backbone of the country, but it has not been treated through that trajectory. He said if the sector is not treated in that trajectory, the problems of the country of not having enough money to implement development activities will remain unsolved.

The veteran politician said no government in the world can develop based on loans and grants, adding the objective of those that give loans and grants is to keep their debtors at bay, as well as make them (debtors) believe that they (debtors) cannot do without loans and grants.

This, he said, fetters development and the psychological being of the people. Jatta said the country has the capacity to produce all products for its consumption and also export.

“We must produce and transform into what we want it to be. By doing that, we are creating employment, revenue and also scaling up production and would avail farmers’ platforms where they can sell their product,” he said.