National Assembly member for Banjul North has gone back to the electorate of
his constituency to report what transpired in and out of parliament since his
election to date.
The first of the three meetings Hon. Ousman Sillah is to hold in the three wards of his constituency was held on Friday at the junction of Mosque Road and Lancaster Street in Banjul.
In fulfillment of one of his campaign promises, Hon. Sillah decided to embark on such meetings to update the electorate on what he had been doing, saying he is just a representative of the people giving himself to promoting their interest and welfare.
“I promised the electorate of Banjul North during the National Assembly elections campaign that, if elected into office, I will be consulting them on a regular basis in order to hear their concerns and to report what has been said and done on their behalf in and out of the National Assembly,” the Banjul North lawmaker said while addressing the crowd, comprising residents from Banjul North and other parts of the city.
In addition to the fulfillment of his promise, the meeting was organised to involve people in the governance process as required by the new Gambia that is being built. It was also in a bid to ensure democratic, transparent and accountable representation.
He said the meeting should have been convened by the electorate themselves, who would invite him to come and tell them what he was doing on their behalf and for them to appraise his performance.
“The new Gambia we are talking about is only possible if the people are concerned about how the country is managed by the political representatives and are fully involved in the governance process,” he said.
The Banjul North NAM expounded on what had transpired both in and out of the National Assembly during the past four months following the election of the new parliament regarding the laws they have passed, the debates on the bills and motions as well as the oversight engagements over the said period.
He told the meeting that the National Assembly passed the Amendment of Appropriation Act No. 1 of 2017 which is a revision of part of the budget approved in December 2016 by the former National Assembly in the APRC dispensation.
The revised approved budget for the 2017 financial year, presented by the Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, amounted to D12,100,592,030.
Hon. Sillah said this represents a reduction of D435 million, but there had been an increase in the budget in the area of the servicing and repayment of loans.
He said there were five new loans and three grant agreements brought by the executive and subsequently approved by the National Assembly.
He dilated on the new constitutional amendments passed into law which include the removal of the upper age limit for those vying for the presidency, the increase of the age for Supreme Court judges, among others.
Dwelling on his oversight functions, Hon. Sillah told the meeting that he has been elected chairperson of the National Assembly Select Committee on Health, Women, Children, Disaster, Humanitarian Relief and Refugees.
He also serves in the Foreign Affairs and Trade committees as well as the delegation to the Parliamentary Union of the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC).
The Banjul NAM attended two international meetings in Mali and Burkina Faso and was elected to serve as the treasurer in the executive committee of the International Committee of Parliamentarians for the Abandonment of Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C) for three years.
Hon. Sillah told the gathering that his role as prescribed by the constitution is to make laws and serve in the oversight to public institutions and processes as well as represent the people.
However, he continued, apart from this statutory role, he has also been involved in independent initiatives to address the concerns of the people.
He talked about the Crab Island School initiative through which he is trying to provide skills to young people who are school dropouts, irregular migrants, unemployed from the Greater Banjul Area. He applauded the support of the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education towards the realisation of the initiative. The idea was conceived to address poverty and make young people productive and responsible.
Hon. Sillah said he is also currently working to help some senior secondary schools in Banjul in the remedial summer classes to improve the performance of students in the core subjects of English, Mathematics and Science.
It was also disclosed that the Banjul North parliamentarian has opened an office to enable the electorate to have access to him.
The meeting was an interactive one for it provided a platform for the people to raise questions and comments bordering on issues of governance, the economy, youth unemployment, education, health, among others.
The meeting was chaired by Dr Pa Modou Njie, a resident of Banjul, who hailed the initiative and called on the people to seize the opportunity to take their representatives to task and ensure that they deliver as expected.
One of the speakers, Abdou Coker, called on the other parliamentarians and constituencies to emulate Hon. Sillah’s type of democratic, transparent and accountable representation which he described as exemplary.
Meeting of the Banjul North NAM continues next Friday at Tobacco Road, and the following Friday at Crab Island Ward.