Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Thousands of APRC militants, supporters, and sympathisers, Saturday, converged at the Jerma Beach Hotel in Kololi, for a two-day conference, sanctioned by the National Mobilising Committee of the country’s ruling party.
The vice-president and secretary of state for Women’s Affairs, Aja Dr Isatou Njie-Saidy, presided over the opening ceremony of the national discussion, on behalf of President Yahya Jammeh. The conference brought together delegates from across the four corners of the country.
With the theme: ‘Institutional strengthening of APRC in the context of national development," the conference aimed at discussing key issues, among them a review of the party’s strategies and action plan, and the subsequent adoption of the document; the party’s constitution; and selection criteria of its candidates.
In her statement on behalf of the Gambian leader, Vice-president Njie-Saidy thanked Allah for the 14 years of development. She echoed calls for unity and respect for authority. Three categories of people, she said, have been key to the successes of the APRC: opinion leaders; the rich; and the educated. She paid homage to Mr Amadou Samba, as one of the foremost helpers of the party in terms of financial support.
Vice President Njie-Saidy also reminded delegates that the conference was a follow-up to an earlier one held in Mansakonko, Lower River Region. The issues discussed there, the vice-president said, are waiting to be discussed. She then challenged the delegates to justify their representation by making their presence felt throughout the discussions.
The party’s national mobilizer, SoS Yankunba Touray, echoed his deputy, Madam Aji Fatou Sallah. He told the gathering that there was no doubt that the party was doing fine among the women folk, who he said do not just stop at talking, but manifest their support for the party by action. Hon Touray compared the party’s performance in the last two elections, arguing that the results indicate an increase in the APRC’s performance.
He however, cautioned against complacency, urging the membership to brace up for the forthcoming general registration in 2010 and the subsequent elections.
A representative of the National Assembly, Hon Sulayman Joof, said that the party’s problem is not the opposition, but what he called "intra-party feud." This, he cautioned, would not augur well for the APRC.
In his welcome statement, the chairperson of the occasion, Hon Fabakary Tombong Jatta, who is the majority leader of the National Assembly, praised the delegates for the high turnout.
Hon Jatta attributed the event in the fully packed hall of the country’s newest five-star hotel, to the people’s readiness to heed the Gambian leader’s call; a man that has championed, and continues to champion their cause.
“This is an indication of the party leader’s commitment to take the country where it belongs in terms of development,” he told a jubilant audience. The majority leader argued that every Gambian, be they APRC supporters or not, who had a knowledge of where the country was before July 1994, could tell the difference today, and that anybody could guess where the nation is heading. He, however, urged all regardless of party affiliation, to focus on the development aspirations of the country.
The APRC’s general-secretary, Manlafi Jarju, stressed the need for unity among party members, respect for authority, and "most importantly, to maintain loyalty to the ideals of the party’s constitution." He said that there would be no success without the full participation of the membership.
A representative of the APRC’s youth wing, Majanko Samusa, said that national consultations like this are what politics entails, and that it is what takes a nation forward. Dialogue, he went on, is essential.
He also called on the youth folk to beware of the danger of disunity among their ranks. This was a view shared by a representative of the council of elders, as well as the party’s deputy national mobiliser, who sought to remind the women folk of President Jammeh’s unreserved support for their cause.
Also present at the occasion were the Speaker of the National Assembly, secretaries of state, NAMs, a number of Gambian ambassadors, as well as delegates from APRC chapters overseas.
Author: by Kemo Cham