By Fatou Sillah
The Minister of Local Government, Lands and Religious Affairs, Hon Abba Sanyang, has responded to the government’s critics on the National Identify Card issue. In an address at a Meet the People’s Tour meeting in Jarra Japinneh, Lower River region, Hon. Sanyang pushed back on the viral video of a Senegalese politician making the rounds, in which he lamented on the ubiquitous nature of Gambian Identity Cards in his commune due to the restrictive nature of obtaining Senegalese IDs.
“These days there are too many talks in the country because of what was said in another country, that our National Identity Cards are easily obtained by people in neighboring country (Senegal). The Gambian laws are clear on the process to obtain an ID card, and we all know that we don’t buy Gambian nationality in the markets. Before you are issued with a Gambian National Identify Card, you will need to produce a passport. If you don’t have a passport, you will need an attestation from your parents and also an attestation from either the chief (District Head) and or the Alkalo (Village Head).
“There were no ID cards issuing centers in the provinces until lately. It was, until recently, only made in Banjul and the Kombos. The decision to decentralize card issuance was made to ease the way and make it easier for people in parts of the country that are far from Kombo to have the same access to their national documents. Centralizing Issuance in the Kombos has cost attached to it. Folks will have to pay fare to come to Kombo and pay for accommodation when they get there. President Barrow recognized that it is expensive for people coming to Kombo to acquire these documents. This was why we have opened centers in many parts of the country for people to get access without incurring exorbitant costs”
Hon. Sanyang also stated that they will resist passing aspersion on critics from afar, instead they will use the criticism as source of strength.
“When people living outside the country throw stones at us, we will let them do so, but we will not retaliate by throwing the stones back at them. Instead, we will pick up those stones and create a foundation for our houses.”
Hon. Sanyang observed that there are various ways of obtaining Gambian Nationality, and by extension our national documents, and that the proximity of the Gambia and Senegal makes for a bond that is inseparable.
“So, I am asking you this question, how many Gambians are married in Senegal? How many villages do we have out there that have a part of it in Senegal and the other part is in The Gambia? So, anybody living in or outside The Gambia should understand that Gambia and Senegal are the same mum and dad, No one should try to separate these two countries,” he said.
Hon. Sanyang acknowledged that the Gambia and Senegal do have their national boundaries but posited that there are Gambians married and living in Senegal and Senegalese married and living in the Gambia. He said any Gambian that is married in Senegal is mandated by the (Government) to prepare their ID Cards as well as their children’s.
“We should desist from saying that Gambians who are married and living in Senegal should not have Gambian ID Cards. The words that are going viral on the internet and our opponents are using it to fight us are not accurate. We should know that the right that Gambians living in The Gambia have, is the same right that Gambians living in neighboring Senegal have,” he said.