The villagers of the former Secretary General and Presidential Affairs Minister, Njogu Lamin Bah cross carpeted to the opposition United Democratic Party (UDP) after rallying with the ruling Alliance for Patriotic Re-orientation and Construction (APRC) party of Yahya Jammeh for two decades. Mr. Bah, whose qualification had been widely disputed, was dismissed, convicted and jailed for abuse of office.
Scores of Medina Serign Mass villagers announced their allegiance decision at the UDP political bureau in Banjul on Thursday.
The development follows the opposition party’s heavy investment in grassroots politics, which according to one party official, has been paying dividends. The opposition party’s new strategy was triggered by a standoff it had with security forces in Fass Njaga Choi last year.
The delegation that comprises men, women and youths had a lengthy discussion with the UDP leader, Lawyer Ousainou. Niumi villagers are delighted for the warm welcome accorded to them. They attribute their allegiance to the party’s active public outreach which centers on the need to bring back democratic change in The Gambia.
Mr. Darboe welcomes the new members with open arms. He praises their brave move.
“Everyone in the country is affected by the irrational and erratic decisions making of the President and his ruling APRC,” Mr. Darboe adds. He says there is ample evidence for sensible Gambians to distance themselves from Yahya Jammeh.
Darboe wants the new loyalists to “double up efforts” to bring more APRC supporters to the UDP.
The UDP leader says the country’s main problem has to do with the government’s deliberate decision to neglect the bread basket. “Agriculture has been underfunded and neglected,” the lawyer politician notes. He says to add salt to injury, the government has failed to provide market for farmers produce. This means farmers will not have finance which in turn deprives them of the joy of reaping the fruit of their labour. “Farming therefore becomes less economically viable. This why the rural-urban migration is unprecedented and even eroded village communities.”
The UDP Electoral Liaison Officer with the Independent Electoral Commission praises Medina villagers for their timely decision. Mr Sulayman Sarr says the onus is now on UDP militants and the wider public to acquire voter’s cards, the only way to end voter apathy which plays against the opposition. Sarr says the IEC will reintroduce the acquisition of voters cards through identification by elders and village heads.
The two-month supplementary voter registration begins on January 14th.
The party’s formidable Youth Secretary, Ebrima Solo Sandeng, credits the UDP National President, Dembo By Force Bojang, for his tireless efforts in Medina Serign Mass. Mr. Sandeng thanks the party’s “youths for their continuous fearless work in meeting Gambians at their abode and sharing the UDP’s message of change through popular participation in the electoral process.”
Lawyer Darboe finally demonstrates his party’s belief that there cannot be meaningful development in the absence of agriculture. And as token of appreciation, he handed over variety of vegetable seeds to the newest party members. Darboe encourages Medina villagers to “hold their heads high and be self reliant. You should not allow anyone to devalue your sovereign rights of the country.”