By Kebba Jeffang
The People’s Democratic Organisation Independence and SocialismPDOIS PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE
(PDOIS) on Saturday, 19th March, 2016 held a convention to formally
install Halifa Sallah as its flag bearer following the first ever
primary in The Gambia across the country ahead of the December 1st
Presidential election.The ceremony that took place at the main hall of Kairaba Beach Hotel
gathered party activists representing variousHALIFA SALLAH MAKES PLEDGES TO THE
regions across the country.
After stating that he accepts his selection to become the PDOIS
presidential candidate for the December 1 election, Mr Sallah read out
the following declaration for which he received a loud applause:
1.      I, Halifa Sallah, hereby declare before the whole people that if
elected President I will serve only one term which according to
section 63 of the Constitution is for period of five years.
2.      I, Halifa Sallah, hereby declare before the whole people that if
elected President, our Cabinet will introduce a Bill to secure the
following constitutional amendments:
(a)     The establishment of a two four year term limit to the presidency
of The Gambia;
(b)     The establishment of one-third gender parity in the composition of
Cabinet and all other representative institutions through proportional
representation. Special interest groups like the physically challenged
shall be given special consideration;
(c)     The restoration of the absolute majority so that no person shall
be elected as President on the first ballot unless the votes cast in
his or her favour at the election are more than fifty percent of the
total number of votes validly cast at that election;
(d)     The abrogation of the upper age limit under section 62 of the
Constitution which deters competent people from exercising their right
to be elected as enshrined under section 26 of the Constitution which
is a fundamental political right;
(e)     The safeguarding of the separation of powers by giving
parliamentarians and judges immunities from removal from office by the
executive. Provisions shall be made so that parliamentarians who are
dismissed from their parties shall automatically become independent
members of parliament. Judges would be appointed by a service
commission and removed only through impeachment after judicial and
parliamentary inquiry.
3.      I, Halifa Sallah, hereby declare before the whole people that if
elected President, I will do away with all the monarchical privileges
of the presidency through constitutional, legal, administrative and
cultural reforms.
4.      I, Halifa Sallah, hereby declare before the whole people that if
elected President, I will not hold any other office of profit or
emolument, whether public or private, occupy other position carrying
the right to remuneration for the rendering of services, or directly
or indirectly carry on any trade, business or other undertakings.
After reading out his pledges, Mr Sallah made some remarks. He said
since at the age of 16, he had no other ambition but to give his life
to Africa. He said he escaped death recently but he is alive; that he
is willing to stake his life for this course.
In outlining his polices, he said since there can be no development
under the reality of the current economic status of the country due to
clamping down of the productive economic based, his government if
elected will focus on building that first before anything.
Mr. Sallah said if you ask the APRC leadership what their priorities
are they will tell you is education, health and agriculture. He said
but how can one build a house without the material resources needed,
noting that one cannot talk about any reform of social development
without a productive base.
He then went on to show that the level of production is low. He noted
that after 22 years, the gross domestic product is valued at D42
billion which works out to less than two thousand dalasi per Gambian
per annum.
“So we cannot talk about sharing the cake as some people say. The cake
is not large enough to feed us. So we must ask ourselves the question
what economic policies are we going to put in place to be able to
eradicate poverty. Any political party which comes to you and tells
you we will provide free education, free housing, and better
agricultural production without telling you where the money is going
to come from is just wasting your time; that’s demagogy. That is why
it is important for each of you to understand the state of our
economy,” said Sallah.
He added “at this very moment, your country has an internal debt of over
D22 billion (22 thousand million dalasi), an external debt of over D23
billion (23 thousand million dalasi) which totals to a D45 billion (45
thousand million dalasi) on its head. It means even the child who is
born today, the old people who have gone to the grave all carry a debt
burden of D20 thousand dalasi. That is how indebted your country is.
As for the national budget this year, what is supposed to be earned as
revenue is 12.9 billion but what is needed is 16.9 billion with a
deficit of 3.9 billion. Last year, the deficit was 3.6 billion. The
nation is living on debt”, he said.
Mr Sallah then proceeded to say without the development of the
productive base of the economy, how would the State be able to provide jobs
when there are 393,000 children in the primary schools, 90,000
children in the upper basic schools, 51,000 children in the senior
secondary schools. He asked where are they going to get jobs without a productive
Mr. Sallah said if elected his government will use sovereign national
wealth by harnessing minerals, oil and other resources for  use in
promoting  infrastructural development, sustainable and timely loan
repayment scheme, and building the productive base of the economy that
will stabilize the economic status of the country. He said the use of
cooperative banking system will be a strategy to normalize the
torn-economy by making the best utilization of fruits, vegetables,
fishing sector and cattle for production which will not only build the
economy but will provide employment for many people.
He reiterated that it is only by building the productive base of the economy that it
will be possible to prioritize education and health.
See subsequent editions for a full text of Mr Sallah’s Speech.
Speaking at the program earlier, Mr. Sidia Jatta, Chairman of PDOIS
party who also chaired the event said the convention to install the
Presidential candidate is a culmination of a process that started few
months ago.
“This system has never been experienced in this country before. For
the first time in the history of the Gambia, you (the people) have got
your sovereignty to have the opportunity to select the person who you
wish to lead in the election. This is your fundamental right and duty.
You own this country; you pay tax in order to live in peace and
prosperity. For 51 years on, many people have been wallowing in abject
poverty; the fundamental rights of the republic trampled upon for
years including disappearances without traces. Here is a country where
you have no idea about how it is run as tax payers, you cannot put
forward your opinion as tax payers especially if you are not
supporters of the ruling party. If you express your opinion you will
either be imprisoned or killed,” said PDOIS Party Chair Sidia Jatta.
He concluded by informing that his Party from henceforth will be
institutionalizing the declaration system for all its representatives
such as the Presidential, parliamentary and the Council candidates
commencing with Halifa Sallah as the nominated person for the 2016
presidential candidate.
Mr. Sam Sarr, the secretary to the information bureau of PDOIS
described the occasion a momentous day. He said PDOIS is a party of
enlightenment, and with enlightenment you have clarity and the road to
pursue becomes clear. He said that the party is presenting a candidate
who is clear to direct the nation along the right path, one who has
the right strategy and tactics to carry the nation forward, one who is
willing to stake his life for that purpose.
Madam Amie Sillah, Party Secretary of Women’s Bureau said PDOIS
belongs to the people. She said it is because of this that her party
decided to go for primaries to give the people the opportunity to
choose who they want to lead the party to the 2016 presidential election.
She pointed out that 51 years is enough and the Gambia needs to be
free completely from all hurdles. She narrated that PDOIS has
struggled hard for the Gambia citing an example of herself when she
was imprisoned for 7 months in the first republic and had to part with
her 10 month old baby.