By Kebba Jeffang
National Council for Civic Education (NCCE), as mandated by the Constitution of the republic, is currently embarking on community outreach sensitization in Foni where 20 villages are expected to be sensitised on political participation and voter education.
The activity which is scheduled from 2nd to 11 September started in Foni Jarrol district in the West Coast Region (WCR).
Yusupha Bojang, the Programme Officer of NCCE, at an interface meeting held in Wassadu, told the villagers that his office is tasked by the government to sensitise the people in their communities on various subject matters of concern that deals with their civic rights and responsibilities. He said the 3 year electoral cycle has been announced by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) starting with the Presidential election in December, parliamentary election in 2017 and Local government election in 2018. He urged the community to ensure that they participate in all the elections actively as citizens of the country.
“Our mission this time is to educate the people on the importance of participating in voting and politics in general in order to take part in the country’s development. Politics is very important because it is supported by democracy that calls for full participation of everyone through representation. If democracy has a blood, it is elections. It is everyone’s duty to participate in voting and young people who have been lagging behind must take up the responsibility by deciding who should run their affairs,” said Bojang.
He advised the community to be more tolerant and accommodate any political party that enters their village to do rallies as all parties are important, all are Gambians and all have similar progressive ambitions for the country. He said if any person who fails to vote has no point to blame any president for misrule.
He remarked, “Power belongs to people and that is why election comes periodically in order to assess their performance and hold them accountable”.
He said after every five years, a position for the President or the national assembly members could be renewed or remove based on their performance on the promises they gave the time they were seeking votes from people and therefore people must utilize the moment actively and consciously,” he concluded.
Ansumana Yabo, Senior Civic Officer informed the gathering that there could be development or active participation in politics without knowledge and understanding about the Constitution and other laws of the country. He said they have realized that there has been a consistent challenge of voter apathy in all the 3 elections but that it is worst in the Local Government Election for Ward Councilors.
Underscoring the importance of election, Yabo said Gambia has an opportunity this year to select the one that will decide for them best in the next five years. He said election is not a child-play and every qualified voter should take part in the decision making process. He said there are different parties and people should choose who their choice is and vote for that person while maintaining the existing peace in the country.
“Gambia is widely known for peace and to maintain that peace people must accommodate all the parties equally without discrimination since all the contestants are Gambians. Disobedience to the laws, extremism, tribal differences and regional separation should be removed from political platforms to preserve the peace we are all enjoying,” he concluded.