By Kebba Jeffang
As part of a community sensitization campaign across the Gambia on Citizenship and Governance, Mr. Kebba O. Jobe, a senior officer at the National Council for Civic Education (NCCE), on Friday, 10th July, 2015, told the 40 communities in the North Bank Region (NBR) that it is a right of every Gambian to participate in politics as well as take part in the administration of the country.
The convergence brought together nearly one hundred people including youth, women, men and children in an interactive session held in Kerr Bigi in the Lower Niumi district.
Mr. Jobe said the objective of the exercise, which started on the 5th July, is to sensitise Gambians on what is citizenship, civic responsibilities and rights, politics and citizens’ participation. He said these are things that are very important and are necessary for people to know about, adding that many people, particularly the women folk, suffer a lot at facilities such as health centers, or even while travelling on the road, etc.
“Most people don’t know what citizenship is and they cannot distinguish who is a citizen under both the 1997 Constitution and that of the 1970 Constitution, as there is a difference between the two. In the 1970 Constitution, it is stated that anyone who was born in that period was a Gambian, whilst in the 1997 one recognises four different types of citizenships,” he said.
He said there is need to clarify these differences and that is what they are trying to do.
On the part of politics and citizens’ participation, he said it is important for every citizen to participate in the development of one’s nation and that this citizens’ participation in development is not only through work, but also through politics, because every Gambian has the right to participate in the administration of one’s country. He said the issue of who should be managing the affairs of a nation is determined by politics and through the ballot box
“It is through politics that you vote and the vote you are casting is giving you the power to have mandate to have a say on who is going to manage your affairs in government. It will give you power to change the government and even the laws can also be altered by the citizens. These are things people need to know,” said Mr. Jobe.
He added that people need to also know the responsibilities of the National Assembly members, the executive and the judiciary which are the three arms of government. He said some people do not know how some of the community development initiatives such as taps, hospitals, schools etc come about and do think that they are gifts, not knowing that some of them are from the tax payers’ money.
He further clarified that other than tax payment, government relies on borrowing on behalf of the people which is ratified by the National Assembly who are representing the people. He said every loan that is taken by the government must be repaid by the citizens from the tax payers’ money.
Commenting later on the outcome of the meetings, Mr. Jobe told the journalists that the local communities are absorbing the messages rapidly and they have been to almost all the communities in the country. “Wherever we visited, they demanded for our return and that shows that they are being provided with relevant messages. He said this makes the NCCE to be continuously using their subvention to carry out such programmes on a monthly basis without solely relying on funding.
Mr. Ousman Bah, the Alkalo of the village, thanked NCCE for the session which he described as informative, educative, relevant and timely and assured that they would be guided by it, especially during elections.