Halifa Sallah, Secretary General of the People’s Democratic Organisation for Independence and Socialism (PDOIS) has suggested that the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) allocated to the National Assembly should be scrapped from the Assembly’s budgetary allocation, challenging the media to investigate how the funds have been utilized by National Assembly Members who received the funds on behalf of their constituencies.
PDOIS Party Leader made these remarks at a press conference hosted at the party’s Secretariat in Churchill’s Town, Serrakunda, where he recounts the party’s position and performance in the just ended councillorship by-election.
Hon. Sallah also disclosed to the press that the leadership of the PDOIS is not sort of young leaders to take the mantle of leadership once they are gone.
The Constituency Development Fund is a budgetary allocation that has been created for the National Assembly and allows parliamentarians to spend up to three hundred thousand dalasis (D300, 000) annually for development purposes within their constituency.
CDF also accords serving NAMs to cumulatively access development funding to the tune of one and half million dalasi (D1.5million) during their tenure in office.
However, Halifa Sallah believes that this fund should be scrapped from the budget of the National Assembly and redirected it to the development budget of councils.
“The Constituency Development Fund was created during our time in Parliament, there is nothing wrong to take it if it is there. Now the media have the chance to find out how the funds were utilized by the beneficiaries. That is what the media can do, interrogate every National Assembly Member on how did they spend,” Halifa Sallah challenged the media to follow the CDF.
He added: “I refused to take it because if I said anything then they will say this man is very strange but now you see I am free, I am not there at the National Assembly to antagonize anybody. I am now a sovereign Gambian citizen determined to make my mark in the country that is why I am saying that the fund should be scrapped.”
Hon. Sallah who once served as the Minority Leader of the National Assembly continued to observe that the Constituency Development Fund is only geared toward creating a self-perpetuating rule for National Assembly Members, arguing that such funds should be put into the development funds of the councils so that such funds can be accounted for rather than in the hands of the NAMs.
Dilating on the future of the party, Halifa Sallah remains unbeaten about the prospects of the three decades old party, highlighting that the party is backed by a strong cohort of young leaders who will be well prepared to take the leadership of the party once they face out from real-time politics.
He described the notion that PDOIS is a party run by old men as the false perception that is contrary to the realities, adducing that the past national assembly election is a clear indication that PDOIS is backed by a strong cohort of youth as it filed only one candidate who is above sixty (60) years out of eighteen (18) candidates.
“We had National Assembly election with eighteen candidates only one candidate’s age was above sixty, so is a very young party contrary to what it is ascribed. And if you follow our genesis it was the thirty-year-old and the twenty-year-old that established PDOIS,” the PDOIS leader explained.
Hon. Sallah recalled that while they were still at the tail end of their youthful age, former President Yahya Jammeh and Co. stage a coup in 1994, arguing that the 22 years of hard battle to free the country from the former leader makes them grey without achieving the leadership of the country.