The closure of Taranga FM radio station, Standard and Daily News Newspapers by the Gambian authorities has yesterday triggered controversy when the Minority Leader calls on the government to unconditionally re-open these media houses at the Legislative Chambers in Banjul.
"I urged the president of the republic to consider the re-opening of these various media houses. If we can mediate for the release of eight (8) Senegalese soldiers, why can't we try the same thing in the country?" Asked Hon. Samba Jallow, Minority Leader and member for Niamina Dankunku.
The Minority Leader has raised concerns regarding the unprecedented closure of Taranga FM radio station, Standard and Daily News Newspapers. He disclosed that the proprietor of Taranga FM radio station has knocked at all doors. He calls on the authorities to re-open these media houses as it would tarnish the image of the country.
"I remembered how shocked I was at the Pan-African Parliament when the Gambia government was labeled 'unfriendly' to the media", he disclosed.
Hon. Jallow condemned the coverage of Pa Nderry Mbai's parents on GRTS, the proprietor of 'Freedom' Gambian online media. He calls it unnecessary and waste of resources to drive to Niamina to conduct the interview. He asked what would be gained from exposing journalist Mbai's parents which he said was not fair.
"This man is not even in the country", he pointed out.
At this juncture, the Speaker of the National Assembly, Hon. Abdoulie Bojang, commended the Minority Leader and member for Niamina Dankunku. He advises members to see themselves as representatives of a country and not of parties. He said he has not seen a mature person in the National Assembly than him.
"In this country most of the time opposition means enmity", said Hon. Fabakary Tombong Jatta, Majority Leader and member for Serrekunda East.
The Majority Leader argued that the members of the opposition would refuse to attend development programmes of the government. He said most of the time the opposition would not honour the invitation sent to them. He stressed that the opposition should put aside political differences when it comes to national development.
"The power of the pen is deadly. It must be handled by responsible people", he pointed out.
Hon. Jatta acknowledges the efforts of the Minority Leader to sought audience with the president of the republic on the issue of the closure of media houses. He argued that the president was on holiday. He argued that the issue of Gambia government's relation with the press was not debated at the Pan- African Parliament.
At this juncture, the Minority Leader wanted to make point of clarification but the Majority Leader said he would not sit unless the Speaker said so. Unfortunately, the Speaker did not intervene but he allows him to continue.
"I am not making any bad blood", he added.
The Majority Leader said most of the problems are created by the people and pushed it to the leadership. He argued that only irresponsible leadership would lead a country to chaos. He said they want free and responsible press in the country.
"We are not afraid of criticism. We are not a perfect government. We will appeal to government to bring back the media houses especially Taranga FM radio station", he pointed out.
Hon. Jatta said they want a vibrant press that is essential and viable ingredient to democracy and good governance. He agreed that the Taranga FM radio station was doing a good work in the country. He argues that people should have the right to defend themselves on the medium used to criticize them.
"I can't agree that the interview of Pa Nderry Mbai's parents is irrelevant. It is about exposing the credibility of Pa Nderry. Those websites are sending insults to our country and its leadership. A patriotic citizen will respect its leader", he stressed.
The Majority Leader asserted that some of the things said may be true but what is abundantly clear is that the leadership is willing to turn the country into a heaven. He stressed that peace and stability cannot be compromised. Subsequently, the session was adjourned sine die.