By MUHAMMED S. BAH
The National Convention Party (NCP) on Saturday, 18 June 2016, held its first press conference which witnessed the unveiling of Dr. Lamin Bolonding Bojang as its new party leader.
Attended by NCP party militants, the press conference was held at the NCP Headquarters in Brikama adjacent to the main Bojang Kunda Mosque.
According to the NCP militants, the aim of the event is to unveil their party leader and flag bearer to the nation and for him to respond to questions from the members of the press.
Before it started, a minute silence was observed for the late Sheriff Mustapha Dibba, the founding father and former NCP party leader.
In his introductory remark, Mr. Jereba J.B.M.M. Jammeh, NCP deputy party leader, gave a brief history of the party which, he said, was established in 1975 under the leadership of the late Sheriff Mustapha Dibba. He said NCP was among the political parties that were banned after the military takeover in 1994.
“Since after the ban, we were advised by our party leadership to join the UDP in order to contribute to the development of the country until the ban was lifted. This year we have decided to revive the party to show the nation that NCP is still in existence and that we still remain a credible opposition party which is non-violent. We have also decided, through our meetings, to select our leaders and Dr. Lamin Bolonding Bojang was unanimously selected as the Leader of the party and with me (Mr. Jereba J.B. M.M. Jammeh) as the deputy party leader,” he disclosed.
The NCP deputy leader also urged the other parties in the opposition to join hands together in ensuring that there is liberty in the country, ensure that proper democracy prevails as well as respect for human rights and justice.
Before inviting the journalists to ask questions, Dr. Bojang, NCP party leader, in his address, gave an introduction of himself and the policy of his party which, he said, promotes peace and does not create violence.
He said his party’s plan is to contest to win all the seats in the forthcoming elections, adding “we will be working towards this because it is our target, but as to whether we will realise it or not, that’s another question.”
On the issue of uniting with other opposition parties in the forthcoming presidential election, Dr. Bojang said the issue is far fetch at this stage as he has not yet seen any enthusiasm from the opposition towards this direction. He said if the opposition really wants to unseat Jammeh at the polls then they must form a coalition. “It is however not going to be an easy thing,” said the NCP leader.
On why he said it is not going to be easy to form a coalition, Dr Bojang said “I personally have been writing to different political parties to come together since 1992, but this could not materialise simply because there is misunderstanding. I think if people have the interest of the country at heart, we should have realised this goal by now. If I have to go into details as to why it could not happen, I might be disuniting rather than uniting the opposition parties.”
Responding to the question whether there is an alliance between the NCP and APRC, Dr. Bojang denied that there has been an alliance between the two parties. He said what existed was an understanding between the two and that there is no document that can show that the NCP and APRC had an alliance before. He stressed that there has never existed a coalition between NCP and APRC.
Dr. Bojang, however, added that what happened was that he himself has campaigned for the AFPRC in 1996, as he felt at the time that this was a party that can usher in changes for the development of the country.
On the issue of the NCP stance regarding the arrest and trial of the UDP leadership, Dr. Bojang responded that the matter is now before courts. “It is the courts that should decide their fate, but we really sympathise with their current predicament,” said the NCP leader.
On the question whether his party will be contesting the elections even if there are no electoral reforms, the NCP leader said with or without electoral reforms they are ready to challenge the incumbent just to ensure that there is a change of government.
He further said that the NCP is ready to work with the other opposition parties to bring about a change of government in the forthcoming elections.
The NCP leader said it is the duty and responsibility of the incumbent (Jammeh) to respect the ECOWAS protocols and recommendations on electoral reforms and not the opposition parties.
Dr. Bojang said their message to the Gambian public is clearly spelt out in their party manifesto and constitution which they will be selling to the electorate to convince them that they are credible and need their support.
The NCP leader said in addition they will be telling the Gambian electorate to look at the type of leader they are giving their support to and to see whether the person has the qualities of a leader.
“Like I’ve been selected as the leader of the NCP, I have been practicing medicine since I came from my studies in Cairo (Egypt) around 1987. I had my clinic which is very busy with sometimes 80 patients per day and my medical services were really affordable to the average people until I couldn’t even sustain the facility. I was asked by the medical and health personnel to close down my clinic because I wasn’t able to meet the standards. As a result, I had to sell my clinic to find a better place to continue with my work,” said Dr. Bojang.
Other speakers at the press conference included Mr. Majanko Samusa, NCP National Mobiliser, who reiterated the need for solidarity with the UDP towards their current predicament.