EYEAFRICA TV: Banjul, The Gambia: Photos of distinguished members of the audience who were caught asleep during the president’s delivery of the State of the Nation Address in Parliament went viral on social media on Thursday.
Visitors to the Eye Africa online pages shared diverging views over the ‘sleeping sickness’ of National Assembly Members, ministers, and representatives of the international and civil communities during the president’s delivery of one of the country’s most important moments.
One of the commentators emphatically asked, “Are these the type of leaders we should entrust with our country’s development?”
For others, the sleeping in the National Assembly communicates total disrespect to proceedings in the house, let alone when the Head of State was on his feet. This argument is however, countered with those of others who think that the nap visited the audience due to a very boring address by the president.
Some analysts suggested that the idea of keeping the interior of the National Assembly building at extremely cold by air-conditioning system to help cover up its jam-packed sitting arrangement, did not help the situation.
The State of the Nation Address by the president lasted for about one and a half hour in the parliamentary chambers in Banjul. He addressed pertinent national issues such as security, economy, health and education in a thirty-two page statement.
In view of the duration for the speech, another critic expressed disappointment with those found asleep, noting that “it implies that they have lost track of interest in the president’s address.” He argued that whatever the case, the activity should have been understood to be a constitutional obligation which deserve serious attention and respect.
“Ok, let’s be frank here; there is no politics in this. It was the president; our president -regardless of political affiliation- who was addressing the Assembly on the most crucial issues on the state of our development. Why our public officers should be sleeping during this period?” another one wrote.
President Barrow called on Gambians to encourage one another on the maintenance of peace and stability. “As citizens, we must not create hatred among ourselves (as) we have brought back life and hope for everyone,” he said.