Monday, June 17, 2024

Clarification By National People’s Party (NPP) In Relation To Land Allocation To President Adama Barrow

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By: Seedy S.K. Njie, Deputy Spokesman, NPP

The leader of the United Democratic Party, Honourable Lawyer Ousainou Darboe, made some allegations of impropriety related to land allocation to His Excellency President Adama Barrow during his press conference last week. The UDP leader spoke in a manner suggesting that His Excellency Adama Barrow had perpetrated a land grab and called for the President to come forward and ‘clear the air.’

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In all respects, Hon. Darboe’s comments were mostly conjecture, indicating that he did not have sufficient facts and basis to make those statements.

For the benefit and future reference of all Gambians, any Gambian citizen may apply to the Minister responsible for Lands for the grant of state land under Section 11A of The State Lands Act. The President, as a citizen, is entitled to land allocation just like any other citizen. The allocation of land by the government to citizens has been a longstanding practice throughout our existence as a nation, and it is a privilege that many of our citizens, including ordinary Gambians from all walks of life, junior and senior civil servants, industrialists, educational institutions, and religious bodies have enjoyed. The former President Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara was allocated land for residential purposes through this process.

Thousands of Gambians, including statesmen, businessmen, government officials, politicians, religious leaders, ordinary citizens, and industrial entities, have been allocated land in the past, including UDP’s leader ANM Ousainou Darboe himself, Cabinet Ministers, and National Assembly members, including myself as well as other members of the National Assembly. To buttress the equitable nature of this process, National Assembly Members from across all political parties were allocated land in Old Yundum. Similarly, if you go to Pipeline, Fajara, Kotu, Bakoteh, Salaji, Brufut, Bijilo, Brusubi, and Kanifing, thousands of Gambians obtained their land through the same process. It would be erroneous or misguided to call for the denial of the same privileges, in accordance with the law, to our sitting President on the basis of opposition.

His Excellency President Adama Barrow welcomes political pluralism and opposition checks on government for a true and vibrant democracy; however, he encourages meaningful and effective checks that will positively contribute to our development journey, not those based on sentiments and emotions. Interestingly, Hon. Lawyer Ousainou Darboe himself was allocated the land on which his residence is built at Pipeline through this same process.

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As a country, we need to build strong democratic foundations and advocate for the allocation of land to sitting presidents. In fact, UDP leader Darboe should have welcomed the idea as a way of encouraging and assuring our leaders that there is life after the Presidency. He should also, as a statesman, propose the idea of providing our sitting President with a home befitting a head of state where he can retire with all basic necessities. It is our responsibility as good citizens to provide avenues, incentives, and privileges that will entice our sitting heads of state to be champions of good governance, the rule of law, and the principles of human rights. These are the things we expected the party leader of the UDP to say.

We wish to reassure Gambians that the leader of the NPP is aware of the limited land resources we have as a country, and his government is judiciously and stringently utilizing them. The principles of equity and that one person is entitled to one allocation are his government’s guiding principles.

To conclude, we take solace in the enduring fact that President Barrow is committed to democracy and due process. He is incorruptible, and he will always respect procedures and abide by them.

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