Nominations to contest the January 25th national assembly elections have come and gone. The ruling APRC has field candidates for all forty eight constituencies. No suprises there...the UDP/NRP alliance has thirty five candidates vying for seats across the country. NADD is contesting in five and eleven independent candidates have thrown their hat into the ring as well.
The political climate in the country is dominated by the APRC. Police squad cars in the country are adorned with APRC flags and other party insignias. I remember the head of security at the Barra-Banjul ferry crossing ( an openly corrupt fellow called Joof) boasting about his party loyalties to me when I complained to him about the nefarious behavior he is engaged in by taking money from motorist and having them move ahead of the line. "This is the Gambia and we are in charge". He was pointing to his APRC baseball cap all this time.
But that will be an story for another day: back to the elections. The opposition can win in some of the constituencies they are contesting. Lower Badibou will be one of those battle grounds. I grew up in this district and knew the two fellows competing for the seat. They are both from my native village of Saba and from the same compound for that matter. Kebba Famara Singhateh ( the UDP candidate) is a PPP old hand and has been running for this seat since the late seventies when he came from Russia with a masters in economics. But Lower Badibou has always been an NCP strong hold and Foday Makalo (another Saba native) won in the district throughout the first republic. Suku Singhateh(the APRC candidate) came to the scene after the coup. He coyly join the nefarious July 22nd movement and engineered his way to the APRC candidacy. He was a small businessman prior to that and continue to dabble in business with not so stellar a reputation. Just last year he was sued by a farmers cooperative for swindling them out of thousands of tonnes of peanuts. That case is still pending. Suku's recent nomination has also been marred in acrimony. Some APRC militants in Kerewan are not happy with him and would like to replace him. However been the snake oil sales man he can be, Suku ecked out another nomination that opponents claimed he bought by giving out large sums of money to some nominating members.
The acrimony could doom Suku's relection. If APRC militants in Kerewan are not placated, they could sway the election to Kebba. However this is a big IF. Majanko Samusa (a Kerewan native and nominated APRC national assembly member) has his political future allied with Suku's chances. Should the later goes down so those he. It is therefore a battle royale for political survival and Suku and Majanko will go to any lenght to pull a win. Kebba will have to garner as many votes as he possibly could from the five largest villages to win. This is not an impossible task, but it is not easy by any means. Lower badibou as it stand is up for grabs.
The point has a run down of the opposition nomination district by district here. In another point story, Halifa Sallah is quoted as saying that this will be his last shot at running for the national assembly win or lose. He is planning on pursuing a PHD afterwards.
Halifa could very well lose his seat. He won this seat with a large number of UDP voters voting for him. However with the eruption and acrimony that followed the dissolution of the original NADD project, the UDP smell blood and refused to engage in any kind of tactical alliance that might be a saving grace for Halifa and Co. Instead they are going for the political jugular. If it looks like vegeance, well it just might be. Halifa is smart enough to see this coming and it looks like he has plans to mitigate against the fall: he is getting a PHD....