BANJUL NORTH NAM CALLS FOR ENFRANCHISEMENT OF DIASPORA GAMBIANS

Awa Bah

Continuing his contribution to the debate on the Motion on the President’s State of the Nation Address in the 2017 legislative year, Ousman Sillah, the National Assembly Member (NAM) for Banjul North Constituency on Thursday, 27 July, said he was expecting to hear plans to institute the electoral reforms, that among others, seek to extend the franchise to those Gambians in the diaspora to enable them to participate in national elections as is the case with all the countries in the sub-region.

He noted that the diaspora was very instrumental in the political process which had led to the change of government and therefore needs the constitutional support to allow it to continue to fully participate in the development of the country.

The Banjul North NAM said he joined President Barrow in saluting the Gambian people for their contribution in being the architects and guarantors of the peaceful change of political power which the country enjoyed. He also acknowledged what the President highlighted as achievements of the government during the past six months, adding that they are commendable.

Mr. Sillah said some important policy areas which he expected a pronouncement to be made by the President in the address included the creation of a conducive environment with the necessary legal support to enable local Gambian entrepreneurs as well as those in the diaspora to invest in the productive sector in order to create employment and boost the economy.

“Another area which is missing and highlighted by the National Assembly Member for Serekunda is value addition in agriculture. This is an area that has a huge potential in addressing the unemployment problem among young people which we are always talking about,” said the Banjul North NAM.

He also touched on health and the need for more financing to address the numerous challenges facing the sector such as the lack of adequate, affordable and quality generic drugs at public health facilities, basic equipment, high attrition rate among health personnel, among others.

“I am just returning from a regional meeting which is calling for adequate financing of health from local funds as dependence on outside funding is now deemed to be unsustainable. The AU heads of state in 2001 in Abuja, Nigeria, committed themselves to allocate a minimum of 15% of their national budgets to health but that the Gambia this year allocates less than 7% to the sector,” he added.