By Landing Ceesay
Earlier Saturday, three independent presidential aspirants submitted their documents to the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) for scrutiny.
Joseph H. Joof, who was the first independent presidential aspirant to submit his documents, expressed optimism that his bid would be accepted and declared the winner of December 4th presidential election.
“We are looking forward to working for the Gambia and helping the Gambian people if we are doing the nomination and we go to the election and defeat all the other candidates. I am very hopeful and I am very optimistic that my nomination will be accepted because I have done all I am supposed to do. I am also very optimistic that I will win this election by the grace of God. The Gambia needs a new breed of politicians and if God helps us, we will all be moving ahead from now on.
“We don’t need 100 people, 200 people dancing about all over the place making noise. It costs a lot of money that can go to Gambian people. Things are very hard. So they can use that money and use it for their families and when the time comes there is victory then we will all celebrate together. There is no need to bring all these people. So we decided not to do that and I brought one or two people. That is the main thing. The procedure is what is important, not the noise,” Mr Joof said.
Joseph H. Joof, a former Minister of Justice under former President Yahya Jammeh in the year 2000 after the famous students’ massacre on April 11.
Second was Marie Sock, also, an independent presidential aspirant who submitted her details to the electoral commission.
Marie, who thinks it is time to get a female President, wants to give voice to every young girl and every woman out there to be represented in politics and government.
“It is only we that can make that change for us and our children. Since I came back to the Gambia in 2013, I saw the struggle, I saw the people especially women struggling and I saw young people struggling and If I am a mother and I have a lot of young people around me always trying so hard but cannot get by. For them to even ask me to help them, to stand for them. Then I think it’s a calling and not only by them but also by God that I should do something for the country and if this is what I have to do to help, to support or to empower them, then so be it,” Marie Sock told the media.
She is the first female to have gone this far after the current Vice President Dr. Isatou Touray who in 2016 declared to run for the top job against Jammeh, but later joined the coalition instead of vying solo.
Third independent Presidential Aspirant, Alhaji Mamadi Kurang, shortly after presenting his papers to the electoral body told the media he has fulfilled all the requirements needed for the process.
“I am the right candidate at the moment, the world is going through changes, [and] The Gambia needs to find a candidate that can sail through the difficulties that the global society is facing; somebody who understands the economic issues, the political issues, the global issues. I have been tested and proven. I have operated an institution professionally, employed people and trained more than twenty thousand Gambians who are employed in every industry in this country. I understand the economic problem of this country. The major problem of this country is poverty, and this country needs somebody who can solve poverty, problem solver, I am a problem solver. I have not been corrupted by any government. I am a neutral person, people can trust me that I’m going to deliver what society needs,” Mr Kurang, the only Independent Aspirant accompanied with ambience by his supporters to the election house, told the media.
Alhaji Mamadi Kurang is the founder and CEO of Jollof Tutors Institute of Technology.
Meanwhile, in a dramatic twist, Mathew Gomez, the fourth independent aspirant who was supposed to file documents to the IEC withdrew from the race to the State House and declined to tell the media the reason for his withdrawal from the race.
The criteria for the nomination of presidential candidates for the much-anticipated December election are: a candidate shall be a citizen of The Gambia; a candidate has attained a minimum age of thirty years; candidate has completed Senior Secondary school education, a candidate has been ordinarily resident in The Gambia for the five years immediately preceding the: election; a candidate shall be nominated by not less than five thousand voters whose names appeared in the register of voters with at least two hundred voters being drawn from each Administrative Area; a Sworn Declaration of Assets; a Tax Clearance Certificate; Payment of Deposit of Ten thousand dalasis (D10, 000) as amended; Representative symbol, colour and photographs of a candidate; a person who is qualified to be registered as a voter under the Constitution and the Election Act may contest as an independent candidate in any election; a political party/candidate shall abide by the code on election campaign ethics which the Commission may time to time prepare; and a submission of manifesto encouraging the spirit of tolerance and multiculturalism.
The Nomination of Presidential Aspirants continues tomorrow at the Election House in Kanifing. We will bring all the happenings in our subsequent reports.
The nomination process would complete on Friday, and the details of the aspirants are expected to be published on Saturday for public scrutiny, before they would be accepted by the Electoral Commission.