By Tamsir Manneh
Halifa Sallah, National Assembly Member for Serrekunda Constituency, who is currently on tour of four European countries received a warm welcome in Norway, the first country to visit.
He arrived in Norway, on Monday night 1st August 2017.
On Tuesday morning,Sallah visited the Agency for Waste Management in Oslo accompanied by Bai Malleh Wadda, where a presentation was given on how the municipality of Oslo manages and re-cycles waste.
This visit came at a time when Gambia is faced with burning issues of waste management, a challenge which is of utmost importance to the Government. This avails Sallah the opportunity to find a lasting solution to the challenges on waste management.
On Wednesday 3rd, he met with Mr Olaf Svorstol, member of the International Committee of the Norwegian Red Party.
Their discussion was centered on the Scientific basis of ‘Coercive State’ and how to transform it into a state that will protect the liberty and enhance the prosperity of the People.
Sallah also met with Ms Anniken Huidfelt, the chairperson of the Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee of The Norwegian Parliament and both had a fruitful discussion on many issues related to good governance.
Sallah explained how The Gambia was transformed through the ballot box after 52 years of political existence. He indicated that a national consensus was built during the impasse to prevent conflict and ensure a peaceful transfer of Executive power. He added that this national consensus was reinforced through a sub-regional and international consensus to support the will of The Gambian people by using whatever means necessary to facilitate the peaceful transfer of executive power. He explained that currently the agenda is to build constitutional instruments, institutions backed by an open society that will enable Gambians to have a transition that would give rise to a genuine multiparty system after the transition. He further explained the challenges during the transition, characterized by the need to build an economy that would ensure inclusive growth and promote more employment for the younger generation. He expressed the need for a holistic conception of the issue of migration and terrorism in the Sahel area. He indicated that citizenship education and the provision of services that would promote a sense of belonging to a country and people would largely address the two challenges and called on external partners like Norway to engage countries and their peoples in our region, especially The Gambia to seek to understand these challenges and how to address them in the interest of our peoples. He promised to facilitate contact between the committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence of Norway with those of the National Assembly of The Gambia.
Later in the day, Sallah had a meeting with staffs of the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
Talking to the Chief of Mission, Mr. Steve Hamilton, Sallah emphasised the role remittances have played and are still playing in supporting families in The Gambia and facilitating upward mobility in status. This motivates enterprising youths to take the risk to migrate to the North. He expressed that there is a growing tendency in the North to stop the surge of migrants towards the North because of the claim that it is unsustainable. He added that the push factor is the growing youth population in countries like The Gambia in search of jobs and income that are not available. He argued that the migration problem should be seen as a common problem, which requires a global solution. Billions are being spent to strengthen the security apparatus of fragile states like Libya thinking that if migrants are detained and maltreated in detention centers others might not take the journey, he added. He said the tendency is that if such people are rejected both at home and abroad they are likely to be alienated and become a threat to the world. This could give rise to intolerance and hostility all over the world, which could also further threaten the movement of capital, services and tourism, he noted.
He remarked, “We therefore question whether the best approach is not to empower young people with skills and jobs in the form of small and medium size enterprises to earn income by diverting the billions from being invested in security to prevent migration and instead assist those concerned to be productive in their countries of origin”.
IOM explained the Norway programme they have for vulnerable returnees and non-vulnerable ones. The vulnerable ones are accorded NOK 42,000 (D243,264)in cash and kind while the non-vulnerable receive NOK 20,000 (D115,840) in cash as a package to facilitate their voluntary return and re-integration. They are however of the view that governments of countries of origin and IOM national and regional offices should collaborate to enhance a package that would facilitate smooth reception of returnees and their empowerment to fully integrate in the economic and social lives of their country so that they could lead productive and contributive lives rather than being liabilities to their countries.
Other IOM Staff who attended the meeting are Vulnerable Groups Coordinator, Arbresha Dula and Vulnerable Groups Officer Jarra Dabo.
He concluded his visit in Norway with a meeting with the Gambia Diaspora in Oslo, where he addressed the issue of National Reconciliation, Justice and democratization.
The tour continues. Currently he is in Stockholm, Sweden. From Stockholm he moves to Gothenburg in Denmark and finally Germany.