By: Kebba AF Touray
Barely three days after being warned by the National Assembly Select Committee on Local Government, the Mayor of the Kanifing Municipal Council Talib Ahmed Bensouda, responds to the Select Committee’s action as an allegation and accusation. Below is a verbatim response of the Mayor on audio, sent to this medium:
‘‘My name is Talib Ahmed Bensuda. I am the Mayor of the Kanifing Municipal Council. I am here to respond to the accusations and allegations made by the Chairperson of the National Assembly Select Committee on Local Government. I want to make it categorically clear that I as a Mayor am very respectful of the Parliament. I have high regards for the parliamentarians. Some of the best Parliamentarians I believe are from the Kanifing Municipality and I respect all the parliamentarians regardless of their party affiliation.
However, the Chairperson of the Committee has gone to every media outlet to try to tarnish my image and to say that I have been avoiding the Committee.
“I want to make it crystal clear and I see no reason why I should avoid the Committee. Actually am in full support of the Committee. I respect the work they do and I think it is for our better Gambia. On Council, we have also conducted our audit and investigations. Therefore I believe their work will enhance ours,” he said.
Secondly I am not an Accounting Officer. I am the Mayor of KM and I am elected as the political head of the Kanifing Municipal Council. Thirdly, I am not the Mayor in those years. The years in which the Committee is interested in, which is 2015 and 2016. And therefore I see no reason why I should avoid the Committee, and am in full support the work the Committee is doing.
“On that note, I would like to make it clear that the Chairman of the Committee should get his house in order, because he has originally written that we should show up on the 18th and 19th, when I got two calls from the National Assembly that this was cancelled and postponed till September, which is the next parliamentary sitting. In the same week, I received a call from the National Assembly that they had reversed their decision and we are supposed to show up on the 25th of July 2018, which was on Wednesday. I did show up with my CEO and the Finance Director.”
They had then asked us to show up on the 26th which was the following day and I had immediately excused myself from that meeting and asked for their permission, because the president was coming to visit the Kanifing Municipality. The Committee Chairperson and its members, unanimously agreed that the Presidential tour was very important and therefore I was excused.
I then heard from them on Monday the 30th, while sitting at Kairaba Hotel waiting to inaugurate the Women Councilors who were just nominated. I was with the VP and they told me that they had seen a letter from the Council, from the CEO of the Council requesting that the sitting be deferred because the Finance Director was in a sitting. But they wanted me to tell the CEO that her request was rejected. They had then asked me whether I was going to show up. I told them that I was unable because I was presiding over the swearing ceremony of the women Councilors. The person on the phone then said I understand and I should send my Deputy, which I did.
“I understand they arrived late because of the many communications and that is why they were upset. I understand that they were upset, but I think the accusations are misplaced and misdirected. They should be upset at the administration and not myself as the Mayor. I am not the Accounting Officer of the Kanifing Municipal Council and therefore, his many interviews with the media are politically motivated. Therefore not appreciated and I ask for him to apologize as soon as possible”.