Two leading APRC politicians who oversaw the administration of the two municipal councils in the country for the past five years before their dissolution for the upcoming Local Government Elections have spoken of their intention to vie for the mayoral seats in their respective municipalities in the April 4th polls.
Samba Faal and Yankuba Colley, whose terms expired as mayors of the dissolved Banjul City and Kanifing Municipal Councils respectively, were speaking to the Daily Observer Tuesday morning during an exclusive interview.
This is the first time that they publicly declared their intention to re-run for the top jobs since the dissolution of all the councils in the country by the Ministry of Regional Administration, Lands and Traditional Rulers, that was acting in accordance with the Local Government Act.
The duo are hoping to be part of a host of other Gambians who will contest the April polls under the ticket of the ruling Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction (APRC).
In this interview, they also used the opportunity to assess their term of office, as well as spell out their priorities for the next five years if elected to serve again.
"Yes I will vie for the mayoral seat. I am really ready to contest because if the people have confidence in you, I think it is just fair enough to accept it. I am committed to contributing my quota and complementing the efforts of His Excellency the president with his dream of making Banjul a capital city that would be the envy of all the capital cities in the world. So definitely I am very ready to work with the people of Banjul to give the city a new facelift," remarked Samba Faal, who served as mayor of Banjul from 1996 to 2006, and 2008 to date.
Asked what would be his advantage over any possible opponent in securing the city's top job, Faal pointed out many things including his commitment to the development of the people and the city; his association with the people at the grassroots, amongst others.
He added: "I have the educational background and I have the necessary contacts both internal and outside; I am a Banjulian and I have served in that position for so many years. Therefore, I have an edge over anybody that wants to challenge me and, moreover, I had served as an administrator within the Council, and also a policymaker. So I know the intricacies of all of it and I just need the support from the councilors to make a change both in terms of programmes, implementations, and ideas."
Assessment of the term
The Roosevelt University trained political scientist and journalist also briefly assessed his five-year stint at the helm of affairs of the BCC, highlighting that some marked achievements have been registered.
His words: "I think my assessment is that we have been able to make quite a good inroad in the development of the city. Nobody is perfect but when it comes to environmental sanitation, definitely we are a force to be reckoned with. We were able to consolidate the gains of the July 22nd Revolution by actually improving in that area. We have used our international links by going to Oostende in Belgium and there I was able to get a compactor truck together with other cleansing service materials. I was also able to use our contacts in Taiwan by bringing in four garbage trucks to complement what we have. We have also been complementing the government's development through our contribution to the reconstruction of roads in Banjul, etc."
Outlining his priorities for the city if re-elected, the one-time Youth, Sports and Religious Affairs minister mentioned environmental sanitation, infrastructural developments and empowerment of youth and women, amongst others. He urged Gambians to nurture peace and stability in the race to the election.
The Daily Observer also caught up with Yankuba Colley at his APRC Bureau office, and he declared that he will run for the Kanifing top job under the banner of the governing party. "I have the intention of vying again but it has a process through the party line. So, yes, the intention is there and already people have gone out to say that they want Yankuba Colley as their mayor," he stated.
Like Faal, Colley also sounded optimistic that he would emerge the winner against any opponent that wants to challenge him in the election.
"My party is the most popular within the Municipality and whoever contests under that banner will be the next mayor. The opposition are not a threat to our party," Colley, who doubles as the national mobiliser of the APRC, stated.
Asked about his assessment of the development registered by the Municipality, Colley said: "I don't blow my own trumpet; I would like people to say but notwithstanding when you come up with a question like this, I will let you. There are a lot of developments that we have achieved in the last five years; which has never happened in this Municipality before. It was during this time that we brought in a lot of cleansing vehicles, built markets and put up a high school, making us the first local government authority to put up that structure."
He equally called on Gambians to nurture the peace and stability of the country, stressing that what has been achieved over the past 18 years would not be destroyed as result of anti-peace activities.
About the election
According to the information culled from the Electoral Commission website, Local Government Elections are held in The Gambia to choose mayors and councillors. These are confined to areas of Local Authorities and in the case of The Gambia, the forthcoming Local Government Elections would be conducted in Local Government Councils such as Banjul City Council, Kanifing Municipal Council, Brikama Area Council, Kerewan Area Council, Mansakonko Area Council, Janjanbureh Area Council, Kuntaur Area Council and Basse Area Council. In the first two Local government councils; (BCC & KMC); both the mayors and the ward councillors would be voted into office by the electorate and in the rest of the Local Government Councils, only the ward councillors would be voted for.
The Independent Electoral Commission, in exercise of its mandate under Section 40 of the Elections Act, had earlier announced that election of mayors for the Banjul City Council (BCC) and Kanifing Municipal Council (KMC) and councillors for the 114 wards in the eight Local Government Councils of the Republic of The Gambia shall take place on Thursday 4th April, 2013.