The Leader of the yet to be registered political party—The Gambia Alliance for Unity (GANU’s) Sheikh Tijan Hydara said his country is in dire need of a strong, honest, upright, and committed leader, who can steer the affairs of the impoverished West African nation. Mr. Hydara, speaking in an exclusive interview with Freedom Radio Gambia’s prime time Leral show, notes that if elected into office after the country’s transition period to democratic rule, he will usher in a corruption free, democratic, and prosperous Gambia, that would be the envy of the world. “ The Gambia is in need of strong leadership that does not just have a vision, but a realistic plan that would transform the lives of our people, so that they can live in dignity and to have adequate access to social services and economic opportunities. We want to be a political party with difference. We will not only be responsive to the needs of The Gambian people, we will also create an enabling environment in which citizens will live in dignity,” Hydara remarked.
Hydara told Freedom Radio that The Gambia is currently faced with complex and challenging economic nightmares—threatening the lives of the citizenry. He said there is hunger and abject poverty in the country, and that if not tackled with urgency, it could pose a humanitarian situation in the foreseeable future.
“There is real hunger in this country. People are starving. The cheapest bag of rice called Saddam costs nothing less than D1,500 dalasi. How many people earn more than D2,000 dalasis in this country? Revamping the economy; youth and women empowerment; fixing our collapsed heath sector, agriculture, and education are top on our priority when elected. We confident of victory come the next elections,” Hydara further remarked, adding that the problem of poor teachers’ pay and negligence of Government workers will be a thing of the past once GANU assumes office.
Hydara contends that The Gambia cannot develop, if a war on corruption is not declared. Hence, he said, that’s why he deems it imperative to make sure that corruption is weeded out in the country if elected.
“We will make sure that corruption is eradicated completely in The Gambia. We will make sure that the world will know that there is a credible government in The Gambia that has the interest of Gambians and it is committed to advancing the living standards of her citizens. I will lead by example. I am not corrupt. I am corruption free,” he declared.
Mr. Hydara was cited by a Commission of Inquiry he set up when he was appointed Justice Minister under Jammeh’s rule. The Commission discovered that he failed to report monies in his bank account at the time. An amount of D250,000 dalasis was found in his account. The Commission fined him an additional D250,000 dalasi for failing to disclose monies in his bank account.
“ Many people were compelled to pay money. Money was in my account. They said, I did not inform the Commission that there was that amount of money in my account. Two hundred and fifty thousand dalasis was found in my account. They didn’t care to find out when that money was in the account and they made a wrong finding,” Hydara said.
According to Mr. Hydara, the former Gambia Vice President Isatou Njie Saidy, former Health Minister Dr. Gassama, and others were also fined by the Commission. He said the Commission was tasked to investigate land issues. He denied any wrong doing or being involved in cover up.
Mr. Hydara has denied criticism that he is barely known in the country. He thinks that his past public life, and parental background will help advance his Presidential ambition particularly in areas, where he is not known.
“If you recall, I was Attorney General for three years. As an Attorney General, I think people know me. And I also come from a family background. I think my father is well known in The Gambia. Even if people don’t know me, if they are told that this is the son of Sheikh Kebba Hydara, I think everybody will know me. So, I don’t have a problem with that,” he said.
“To say that we don’t have a political cloud, I think that is a misstatement; that is not something that is true because if I am known in Kombo, and I am known in Serre-Kunda; I am known in Banjul; I am known in the North Bank Division; and I am known in LRR; that means I am known all over The Gambia,” he added.
Hydara said he cares about the country and her people that’s why he decided to jump into the political ring. He said his decision to form a political party is not motivated by money or getting rich.
“I think if it is moneymaking, I wouldn’t go into politics. Politics will take money from me. Right now, I am sacrificing for the people of The Gambia. To go into politics, it is even a risk because you can invest everything and loose everything; losing all. What my private practice is giving me, I think it is enough. I think I can live on that till I die. I have other businesses. I have a yogurt company; and I have cows. I think I don’t need government money. I don’t need money from the coffers of the government,” he told me.
“The Gambia Alliance for National Unity (GANU) is born out of a desire to fill a void long over-sighted by politicians and political parties here in The Gambia. GANU seeks to provide a practical solution to the already existing daily challenges of The Gambian people. In our view, when a people knows what they can achieve together, they will desire to move heaven and earth to achieve that and GANU will be there to provide that leadership,” he remarked.
Written By Pa Nderry M’Bai
Editors note: Part two of our interview with Mr. Hydara will run in our subsequent editions. Stay tuned.