The former Mayor of Banjul who stood and won on an independent ticket, has declared his withdrawal from the race for the Banjul Mayoral election, scheduled for May 2018. Jeng expressed his displeasure with the system of registration which he believes, should be continuous and should be done once and for all. While he was Mayor, Mr. Jeng was forced out of office by the manipulation of the former executive. Below is an abridged form of a statement he issued to that effect:
Almost 18 months back, I made a declaration that I was not going to be a candidate in this coming Mayoral election. Six months later, I was demanded by well-wishers who insisted that I was the only one they believe can help improve the deplorable conditions of Banjul. As a token of appreciation to their trust and confidence in me, I changed my position to accommodate their demands.
After my arrival in Banjul in September, I came to realise that there is a stipulation in the law that a candidate should hold residency of one year in the country. Furthermore the IEC inoculates the requirement of the Biometric voters’ card. All over the world a voter’s card is valid once a voter registers. There is no indication of expiration on the old voters’ cards that were issued prior to leaving the country. In most countries voter registration is a continuous process and conducted daily throughout the year. It is a simple process with minimal cost and handled at the Municipal level, especially in the U.S., by College volunteers with their tablets and laptops. People can register as voters while waiting at bus stops, in the train or inside super markets.
In Africa a whole national establishment facilitated with staff housed separately in a modern complex, cannot handle to carry out this function without appealing for external funding. Yet we question why we are not given the respect we deserve. What is the sense behind changing voters’ registration cards to a biometric one? I can only see the effect if the voting process involves matching the voter’s finger print, at the voting precinct with the one in the database before individuals can cast their vote. Otherwise it tantamount to waste of time and money, serves no other purpose but as a status symbol out of good marketing that only milks the tax-payer’s money.
The fact of the matter remains that every day, many reach the age of 18 years and are eligible to vote on any election. Therefore African nations must turn their backs on this Stone Age model of registration and open their doors to eligible voters to register every day of the year, or else many eligible voters will be disenfranchised in this so called democracy.
Everybody knows that Gambians have suffered for 22 years under dictatorship, and many bad laws were enacted in our statute books. Many good citizens fled for good reasons, but sad enough, those laws still linger in our books, just like old wine in a new bottle.
To the friends of Pa Sallah and the ‘Huss Jarr’, keep the hope alive, have faith and strong and powerful commitments. I hereby declare my withdrawal to this coming mayoral race and all future municipal races. I will continue to contribute my quota to development, serve in other capacity and maybe someday contest the presidency.
I wish to express my deepest gratitude to all those who sacrificed their time, effort, and resources in the likes of Njie Faye, Saibeh Manneh, Serign Babou (Tapalapa) not forgetting my friends and brothers Ebrima Jobe in Maryland and Pa Ousman Faal in Atlanta and my cousin and dentist Sayar Njie.
I have been called by many aspiring candidates for endorsement, and will leave this to my campaign committee to decide. Many members of the campaign committee recommended the support of Halla Samba. However, I want the electorate to use their judgment and make their own assessment, not what I or other individuals will dictate you to do. The bird is in your hand. Squeeze it or free it. Peace be on to you and may the lord bless and keep you.
Pa Sallah Jeng