The Gambia secretariat of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) told The Chronicle that resignations of key staff is not an indication of failure to host the 2021 Summit in Banjul.
In August, the secretariat C.E.O, Lamin J. Sanneh, and communications and branding officer, Nyang Njie, both resigned from their posts with neither providing any reason for their resignations. Last Wednesday, Alhagie Jallow also resigned from his role as the head of the Local Organizing Committee.
But in an exclusive interview, the secretariat spokesperson, Essa Bokar Sey, dispelled public fears that the recent resignations are an indication that the summit may not be held.
Sey insisted that the OIC, like any other institution is based on continuity and its functionality is guaranteed despite the resignations of staff.
“These are things that is no joke. Every structure within here is continuing – doing what it is supposed to do.”
He cited Barrow’s recent trip to Qatar, adding that, the discussion on the OIC being hosted in Banjul formed an important point in the visit.
To effectively steer the affairs of the OIC ahead of its start proper, Sey informed us of the setting up of various committees by the secretariat to start the preparation process.
“We have what we called the Road Reserved Committee and it’s working hard on things. The OIC itself is definitely more vibrant and more ready because the way the structure is built, even if I leave it wouldn’t make the OIC stop. The secretariat is absolutely determined to host the Summit. The OIC is not stopping,” the spokesperson emphasized.
He explained that the Road Reserved Committee comprises of various stakeholders including the National Road Authority (NRA), GAMTEL, NAWEC, the police, GRA, among others and is charged with the responsibility to evaluate the project development initiatives of secretariat.
Reaction of partners to resignations
Despite the resignations, he said the Qataris and the Saudis are still confident that the OIC is continuing in The Gambia as they have been sending delegations to the country.
“The Turkish were recently here as a member state. In fact, why are they disbursing funds? The monies are coming and while I cannot give you figures, I can assure you that the monies are coming. I can tell you that these people will not send anything here (around 93 to 100 million US dollars) and expect to send more, if we are not going to host it. Monies are coming!”
Sey tells The Chronicle that the secretariat will be conducting a fact-finding tour across the country which will allow them to evaluate places where development initiatives should be taken to, including the rural communities.
He said they will also be embarking on a sensitization tour to enlighten the public on the importance of OIC starting in the West Coast Region, where they’ve identified 313 village heads (Alkalolus) and nine district chiefs.
State of road construction
“The work has started. There are already seven feeder roads that were identified and digging will start in January.”
Sey said the Secretariat will be giving out notices to affected people whose structures are within their target in accordance with due process before the removals in January 2020.
“Universally, if highways are to be built, fixed structures are to be built and people are affected, compensations happen. But I am not to tell you we are going to compensate. But of course, compensations exist…”
He said it is government’s responsibility to lead the compensation even though the secretariat will be involved in the process.
The Gambia, until a few months back, was expected to host the OIC Summit in December 2019. However, there were no signs of readiness considering the necessary works that were needed to be done.
In May, The Chronicle broke the news that The Gambia will no longer host the OIC Summit, as it had already given the authority to Saudi Arabia to host it. This brought about a lot of public reaction and condemnation from the Gambians. The government later announced that the country will now host the summit in 2021.
The OIC is the largest intergovernmental organization after the United Nations with a membership of 57 states. Its objective is to safeguard and protect the interest of the Muslim world in the spirit of promoting international peace and harmony.