By Momodou Jarju

The National Assembly Member (NAM) for Serrekunda Constituency, Honourable Halifa Sallah, has informed hundreds of Gambia College students that national development must come from the knowledge of how to transform the natural resources the country has.

The Secretary General of the Peoples’ Democratic Organization for Independence and Socialism (PDOIS) said The Gambia is rich but needs the capacity to utilize its natural resources.

“We are not poor as Nkrumah said, we are impoverished by ignorance. We are impoverished by our incapacity to harness our wide resources; rich resources in order to change our own destiny. So now is the time for every Gambian to become alert to our own mistakes and stop the blame game. You engage in a blame game when you do not have the capacity to act to change,” he said.

Hon. Sallah made the statement yesterday at a symposium organised by the Student Teachers Association (STA) of the Gambia College held under the theme “Reminding citizens of their responsibilities for effective national development”.

The veteran politician was tasked to deliberate on the topic: ‘Responsibilities of Citizens in a Democratic State”.

Speaking further at the packed main hall of the college, Hon. Sallah said Gambians should not live in the past but should learn from it in order to shape the future and prepare to build the future base on knowledge.

“We have minerals for 53 years; we have not seen the benefits of those minerals. We have an ocean for 53 years; we have not seen the benefits of the ocean. We licensed fishing vessels, they would come to the ocean and fish and take it to their lands, build their own industries; all sorts of factories and bring the products back to us. They benefit, we continue to call ourselves poor,” he said.

What The Gambia needs now, Hon. Sallah said, is to know the truth which freedom of information is all about.

He said if the truth is not transformed into knowledge rather than transforming “it into anger and emotions and allow others to direct our minds then we will continue to have people who will preside over our destiny. They live in prosperity and you live in poverty from the cradle to the grave.”

He said it is time for reasoning and not emotions, adding he is confident that The Gambia is heading in that direction.

The new Gambia, he said, does not mean a Gambia free from challenges but it means a new reality has dawned.

“So when we say the responsibility of a citizen in a new Gambia we are simply stating a fact that something has changed and a new thing has come into being. And we as citizens must confront the challenges posed by the new reality,” he said.

Meanwhile, other intellectuals and educationists also spoke at the symposium, aligning their deliberations to the given theme on different topics.

These included a Liberian motivational speaker Thony Mikel Howard, who spoke on “Why governments fail?”; Madam Isatou Ndow, the vice principal spoke on the “Role of teachers in a democratic state,”; Mr. Yusupha Jobe, deputy registrar spoke on “Corruption and the New Gambia; its level and how to stop it”, etc.

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