By Momodou Jarju
Sidia Jatta, the Wuli West Lawmaker has called on his colleague Members of the National Assembly not to allow themselves to be taken for a ride.
The veteran politician made the call last Friday February 21st 2020 at the National Assembly in what has become the first extra-ordinary session of the 2020 Legislative Year.
This emergency sitting was summoned by President Adama Barrow which is within the ambit of the Constitution for Lawmakers to review and possibly consider the ratification of two finance agreements that the Gambia Government has acquired recently.
According to Sidia, he was surprised when he heard of the emergency meeting; that when he enquired the purpose of the emergency session, he was told that it is to consider and ratify some finance and loan agreements part of which is a grant. Sidia said the documents of the financing agreements should have been made available to them weeks ago.
“You do not take us for a ride. This National Assembly cannot be taken for a ride. This is the place where everything being done in this country is subject to thorough and critical questioning. That is why people rely on this Assembly. So that is why we should not take anybody’s record for a ride. They must give us the documents and we must have time to deal with them; and dealing with them with honesty in the interest of our people. If we do not do this, we are failing our people,” he said.
Sidia said all the projects that have been running in the country with Jahally-Pacharr rice project included, have failed; that there were many rice projects since the 1960s; but that yet 80% of rice consumed in the country is imported. He said it was the Taiwanese who first started these projects in the Gambia.
“The minority leader was saying when he was a kid, the rice imported was so bad that when they smell it they would not want to eat it. It means that the time he was young, probably there was more rice but the consumption rate was lower than what it is today, at the time. So that is why your importation has gone up. So what you smelled as bad yesterday is what we smell as excellent today. And we are eating it. So when are we going to stop this type of situation?” he questioned.
Sidia said the more projects are run to do away with food insecurity, the more insecurity they go into; that this is the more reason why they have to evaluate the documents in order to change the narrative. He queried that if they do not have the means to develop after the project phase is gone, that would be the end of the project.
“So that is why we should not take anybody’s record for a ride. They must give us the documents for us to have time to deal with them. And deal with them with honesty, in the interest of our people. If we do not, then we are failing our people,” Sidia concluded.