Jan 22, 2014, 9:41 AM
Halifa Sallah the Secretary General of the People's Democratic Organisation for Independence and Socialism (PDOIS) has launched the campaign called Agenda 2011.
At a rally held by PDOIS in partnership with NADD last Saturday at Latrikunda Yiringaya in Serekunda where PDOIS held their first rally in the 80's Halifa Sallah said:
"People should be more than this to allow others to treat them like donkeys. You born in pain and poverty, brought up in pain and poverty, live in pain and poverty and die in pain and poverty."
He told his audience that, "in 2006, there were 670,336 registered voters. Out of these, 542, 055 did not vote for the opposition."
According to Halifa, all the votes for the opposition totalled 128,281, and that the winner, Yahya Jammeh, received 264,404 votes in the presidential election.
He said 405,932 did not vote for Jammeh, and as many as 300,000 were confirmed as victims of voter apathy, meaning that they did not participate by casting their vote in the election.
"To find a solution to these problems is why we are assembled here today."
He also said that "we have 180,000 students in the lower basics, 60,000 students in the upper basics and 28,000 students in the senior secondary schools, and a lot more in the tertiary institutions.
"Where are all these people going to work? Because the government is not doing anything about it," he asserted.
Halifa added that The Gambia has reached a point where all must come together to bring about change. He said for these changes to be effected, the people need to understand what politics is all about. This, he stated, is what brings about the Agenda 2011.
"We made efforts to bring all parties together, and NADD was formed, but later failed because the people were not involved. Agenda 2011 has come to involve the people in choosing the flag-bearer of the opposition coalition by going into primaries. This can bring about the change of system and governance, if considered," he stated.
Halifa said he disagrees with those with the notion that changes cannot be done through the ballot box.
"Agenda 2011 says "No!" to those who think that changes cannot be effected through the ballot box. With one presidential candidate for the opposition, chosen by the people through a primary, mandated only for a five-year transition to build the foundation for a democratic fear-free and sovereign Gambia.
"This chosen candidate will rule only for one term, and leave office like Mandela."
The veteran politician said the people do referendums for changes. He said they decide which particular law is to be effected or to be removed, adding that this was why The Gambia held referenda in 1965, 1970 and 1997 respectively.
He expressed his frustration that thus the people will go and vote without even knowing why they are voting, because knowledge was lacking. He said that it was part of the 1997 constitution that, for one to be President, you need to have 51% of the votes registered, but this was changed without involving the people.
For Halifa, it is a joke for one to think that the opposition?s strongholds should not benefit from government projects.
"This statement off 'if you don't vote for me, I will not do any development for you' is only a joke. It can only be possible if oppositions are excempted from tax paying. We all pay our tax and, therefore, all deserve the benefits," he said.
Noting that there is a lot of money in this country, he said it is because of lack of proper management and misplaced priorities that the people are living in abject poverty.
He cited some parastatals in the country like the GPTC, which had 22 busses, but all are destroyed. This, he said, have made many people jobless in this country.
He also cited GSM companies claiming that they earn more than D65 million every week, but were not put to task to create other avenues for Gambians to have jobs without affecting their businesses.
According to Mr. Sallah, money generated outside amounts to D1.7 billion which, he added, can construct 14 bridges like that of JangJangbureh by creating employment for the people.
Hon. Sidia Jatta of NADD speaking at the meeting said "politics is not just about the world, but also about the hereafter."
He said: "One needs to have peace of mind before you can worship. And there will be no peace of mind, if there is no food to eat. If you have no food, you become desperate and a desperate person cannot worship Allah. The solutions of these are found in politics."
Sidia sees it as misleading to say we are waiting for God's time to bring about changes, citing some verses in Suratul Anfal of the holy Quran, to back his point.
He called on all political parties, and the general public, to support the Agenda 2011 for the good of the nation.
Other speakers included Mrs. Amie Sillah Sarr, Mr. Ousman Sillah, and delegates from the different regions.