Sunday, November 27

Seedy Njie’s nomination as the Chairperson of Defence and Security Committee Sparks Intense Debate.

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Hon. Seedy SK Njie, Deputy Speaker National Assembly.

By Landing Ceesay

The sixth legislature under the speakership of Hon. Fabakary Tombong Jatta commenced its first public session yesterday. The session started with correction and approval of members of the Committees, International Parliamentary Delegations, and Friendship Groups.

During the proceedings, an intense debate aroused over the nomination of Hon. Seedy Njie to chair the Standing Committee on Defence and Security. A few members of the National Assembly argued that Hon. Njie doesn’t have any security background and lacks expertise in that realm. They proposed that Muhammed Kanteh, the NAM for Busumbala Constituency, who served in the security sector for more than 15 years, is better suited for that role.

In his contribution to the debate, Hon. Yaya Sanyang, NAM for Latrikunda Sabiji Constituency, called Hon. Seedy Njie a security threat to the Gambia, and he should not be selected or nominated as the chair of the Committee on Defence and Security.

Hon. Sanyang further stated that the report needs to go back to the Selection Committee to get people assigned to positions where they would perform maximally. He posited that the National interest should undergird how issues are handled in the National Assembly and should be handled with the care and seriousness it deserves.

“Let the Selection Committee only nominate members and allow those members to select their Chairpersons and Vice Chairperson,” he argued.

Hon. Sanyang said the NAM for Busumbala Constituency should be the Chairperson of the Standing Committee on Defence and Security. He argued that the Busumbala NAM, Hon. Muhammed Kanteh has a master’s degree in security. He was one time head of intelligence at the Statehouse in addition to his previous role as a police commissioner. All these previous experiences, he surmised, prepared Kanteh for the job than Seedy Njie.

“You cannot have the caliber of the honourable member for Busumbala with his experience in this house, and you choose Seedy Njie as chair of the Committee on Defence and Security,” -Sanyang argued.

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Hon. Fatoumatta K. Jawara, Nominated NAM, argued that having a security background is not a prerequisite for serving as chair of the defence and security committee. She posited that a security background is not important for the position and that the position should go to someone who can really do the job. Furthermore, She presented that in the last legislature, the Chairperson and Vice Chairperson of the Defence and Security Committee had no security background, and they did a good job.

“So, not having a security background is not the matter, the matter is who can do it.” -she argued.

Hon. Sulayman Saho, NAM for Central Baddibu Constituency, in his contribution to the debate, presented that a person with a security background will perform better as the chairperson of the Standing Committee on Defence and Security than a person without a security background. Furthermore, he argued, the deputy speaker will be very busy assisting the speaker in running the National Assembly.

“So, such a committee is a crucial one, and it needs somebody who is going to put their energy, skills, and ideas to make sure that we have a better security reform in this country. We all know how fragile our security sector is,”

Hon. Kebba Lang Fofana, Nominated NAM, also contributed to the debate. He submitted that the security sector is one of the most important sectors and should not be taken lightly. It is only natural that the parliament has oversight function of having that regular interface and opportunity to scrutinize the security sector and make sure that it is out there to serve the best interest of this country.

“We have nine members in the Standing Committee on Defence and Security -from Seedy Njie to Abdou Sowe. These nine members are supposed to work together with one common purpose. That is, to make sure that the security sector of this country serves the people well. Hon. Seedy Njie has served in this parliament before. He has experience, and served this country very well. If there is an argument against his chairing the committee, I would say it must be his expertise.”

“I am one of those who believe in merit, and of course if you have someone who has a security background, one would naturally say let that individual lead it. But it is not automatic. The individual with the security background here does not have any parliamentary experience and we have an Hon. Member who has parliamentary experience without a security background. This left us with one choice; allow members of the committee to decide who should chair it.” -Hon. Fofana argued.

Meanwhile, Kebba K. Barrow, NAM for Kombo South, argued that the Standing Committee on Defence and Security should be led by someone who has a security background and will not be a security threat to the people of the Gambia.

The nomination of members of various committees was moved and seconded with amendments.

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