By Landing Ceesay
The Mayor of Kanifing Municipal Council, Talib Ahmed Bensouda, said there are no existing laws that support the appointment of administrators (Governors) in Kanifing Municipality and the city of Banjul.
“The World is moving towards a human approach, towards a grassroot approach, community base approach, towards serving the people at their doorsteps. This is why councils were created. We are thinking about how to have more Mayors, how to have more city councils, how to have a Brusubi Area Council, Brikama Area Council, A Foni Kansala Area Council, and McCarthy Island Area Council, so we can have better representation and better service delivery. But to say that now those things are going to be put aside to bring Administrators and Governors. I think this is taking the country backward. May I add, as far as I know, there are no laws that exist for KM and Banjul to have Governors,” Mayor Bensouda said.
Mayor Bensouda made these remarks in response to President Barrow’s declaration that they are putting strategies together to appoint an Administrator for Kanifing Municipality and the city of Banjul, who will serve as Government’s representatives in the two regions.
Mayor Bensouda said the last amendment of the Local Government Act that empowers the president to appoint Governors was in 2006-2007, and it states that “except the city of Banjul and KM, all other regions should have a governor.”
Furthermore, the mayor explains that the Local Government Act has been amended almost ten times and that section 123 of the act used to have provisions for administrators, commissioners, and governors, with one of the amendments stating that: “KMC must have a governor and Banjul must not.”
Further espousing on the administrator proposal from the president, Mayor Bensouda said what he would like to remind the Ministry of Local Government and the State is that there is no provision for a governor for KM and Banjul in the latest iteration of the Local Government Act.
“This is the law. We are not fighting anybody. We are fighting for our people,” Mayor Bensouda stressed.
On the issue of the Supreme Court decision in their case against the Attorney General, the mayor stressed that as elected members, they are answerable to their electorates and the Supreme Court’s ruling untethered them from seeking clearance for overseas travels.
“As elected officials, we are answerable to the people and no person or nobody. We are answerable to the people. Also in that same landmark ruling, the Council shall no longer stand dissolved 3 months before the election. I think this is common sense. How can we be elected to run and administrate the welfare of the people and then be removed unconstitutionally to put an appointed body to oversee our very own functions,” he mused.
The Mayor further stated that it is unfortunate that such things have to go to Court, saying they were hoping for amicable solution to the issue, thinking the government and Parliament will push the agenda, but it stalled. So, the Supreme Court became their last resort to get justice.
“We urged the government and the Parliament, let us not have such matters go to court anymore. Let them look at what is best for the Gambian people and give the council the power that is due to them to allow them to exercise their functions, so our people can advance. All the council members have traveled in Africa, and outside Africa.
“I also travel, but Gambia is one of the poorest and most underdeveloped countries in the World. It is in the bottom 10. The Population is 65% under the age of 35. Lack of jobs, lack of opportunities, and lack of capacities are what we would imagine will happen in the next 20 years. If these people are not given the opportunity to progress, the opportunity to build their lives, they will become a liability, so let us focus on our people and stop this back and forth,” the Mayor stated.
The Lord Mayor made these remarks on Thursday, December 15, 2022, at the council’s emergency meeting.