By Landing Ceesay
The Mayor of Kanifing Municipal Council, Talib Ahmed Bensouda, in response to President Adama Barrow’s recent attack on municipalities, said we have to graduate from attack politics.
“We have to graduate from attack politics. This is a very small country. If other big countries can afford it, we certainly cannot. We are too poor, too backward, and too small to be fighting among ourselves on a daily basis,”
Mayor Bensouda made these comments in response to President Adama Barrow’s claim that KMC did not invite anyone from the government to attend the inauguration of their new office building but instead invited officials of the opposition United Democratic Party to grace the events.
Mayor Bensouda, in his address, said the Kanifing Municipal Council has not run any event within the municipality that they have not engaged the Ministry of Local Government and Lands on, including the inauguration for the office complex that the president claimed the government was snubbed for.
“We did invite the Lord Mayor Yankuba Colley, who was present. We invited Lord Mayor Lie Conteh, who was present. We invited Lord Mayor Kebba Jallow, who was present. Furthermore, we invited representatives from the APRC, which was represented by Momodou Lamin Badjie. We invited the Gambia Democratic Congress (GDC) which was represented by MC Cham. The Citizens’ Alliance (CA) was represented by Nenneh Freda Gomez. And the United Democratic Party (UDP) was represented by His Excellency, Ousainu Darboe. We invited our very own Ministry, which did not show up to that event,” Mayor Bensouda said during an emergency meeting at KMC’s Chambers.
Mayor Bensouda expressed his disappointment with the Minister of Local Government’s comment that KMC is one of the “dirtiest” Municipalities, which he thinks is a “very unfortunate” comment.
The Mayor recalled a visit a few months from the Minister of Local Governments and Lands made to the KMC General body where he applauded and declared that Kanifing Municipality is head and shoulders above all other regions in providing waste management services to its constituents.
“It is unfortunate that we have this sort of interaction as Gambians. It does not help; this is a very small country. Everybody is interrelated. Politics will come and it will go. Just this morning, I had a radio interview and I said political parties are like football clubs. We have seen many people leave the NCP, GDPD, UP and join other political parties like UDP, APRC, GDC, NPP, etc. Today, on a daily basis, we see people cross-carpeting. So, it is not worth it in the name of politics to misconstrue facts or attack each other,” he said.
Mayor Bensouda said his council has shown the entire country their unity of purpose. Although they are from different political dispensations, when it comes to the supreme interest of the nation and the Municipality, they put their political differences aside and work together. This unity of purpose, he posited, has proven fruitful for the municipality time and time again, and he is hoping it can be harnessed at communities and the national levels. He took exception to the language and tact the president took at his Talinding meeting.
“In this country we must preserve our unity. We must preserve harmony in our communities. We must engage in the competition of ideas. This is what can bring development. But I think having such an event and attack on the council, I think it is not healthy,” the KM stated.
While on the topic of his Council’s commitment to the national interest, Mayor Bensouda said he personally welcome President Barrow to KM even though the majority of his party members opposed it. This was to show that there is more to the tour than partisan politics, and that it is about the country and nation-building.
The Mayor also recalled a pleasant encounter he had with the President when he recently accompanied Sister City guests of Kanifing Municipality visiting from Madison, Wisconsin to the State house, where the president praised the Mbalit project KM has in place.
“In that meeting, the Head of State in the presence of councilors from different political parties actually praised our Mballit project. This is what we want, collaboration, and coordination. When the elections come, we can fight for our ideas. If we win, we will rally behind each other and support our communities.
“In that same visit, we signed an MOU between the University of Wisconsin and the University of the Gambia. One of the most prosperous Universities in the World. One of the richest Universities in the World. We have connected them to the University of the Gambia. Through their engagements, scholarships will be available for school children in the Gambia,” he said.
Mayor Bensouda said opportunities from technical support and capacity building will be made available.
Mayor Bensouda said they took the Mayor and her delegation to the Ministry of Lands and Local Government, in which the Minister pleaded for support in urban planning and development, as well as capacity building for their physical planning unit.
Mayor Bensouda said he even told the Minister that on his next trip, he would like for him to join the delegation visiting the Madison team in Wisconsin, USA.
“The mayor extended their hand and said their urban planning unit which is of course even at the city level way more capacities and way more advanced than that of the one we have at our national level was going to make available resources at the city of Madison to the Physical Planning Unit of the Ministry of Lands and Local Government. All through the sister relationship of the KMC and Madison,” he said
The Lord Mayor of KMC made these remarks on Thursday at their emergency Council Meeting.