By Saikou Suwareh Jabai

The Executive Director of A-Plus – The Gambia, Mr. Omar Ousman Jobe, said his institution is committed to complimenting government’s efforts in enhancing the capacity and performance of National Assembly and Local Government Council officials through the provision of specialized technical and professional trainings and research support services for better decision-making and effective oversight.

A-Plus- The Gambia was identified by the World Bank to conduct training of members of the Public Accounts and Public Enterprise Committee (PAC/PEC) of the National Assembly on Public Finance Management held from the 24th to 25th October, 2016.

Incorporated in The Gambia in September, 2016, he said the institution is a non-state actor whose focus is in line with the Gambia Government’s governance and development agenda, including   the promotion and empowerment of women   and girls as contained in the Children’s Act (2005), the Women’s Act (2010), the Gender and the Women Empowerment Policy (2010-2020).

Part of their mission, he said, is to promote  and  enhance  good  governance  principles, through  capacity building,  policy  support  services and resource  interventions to Parliament and Local Government Councils, whilst proactively working to empower citizens and facilitate women  to vie for elective political office  at National Assembly and Local Councils Levels and for the development of a home-grown non-State actors’ election observatory platform.

Mr. Jobe, who is hired by the World Bank as a consultant to oversee the National Assembly’s visit to World Bank funded project sites, said A-Plus seeks to  build  a Gambia  in  which  the  National  Assembly  and Local Government   Councils  discharge  their   duties  effectively   and  efficiently. “A Gambia where citizens  partake  in the  decision-making processes that  affect  their  lives; where women   are  empowered and  facilitated to  accede  to  leadership   and  elective positions,  and all national  elections  are documented, monitored, observed  and evaluated by home-based Gambian experts to international standards,” he added.

Mr. Jobe, who was speaking to this reporter in an interview at his office along the Kairaba Avenue, said they want to contribute significantly towards the removal of the social, cultural and political barriers that deter women from taking their rightful place in the Gambian society.

The director said the legislature is a key stakeholder in national development and that it is supposed to be driven by seasoned and well trained National Assembly Members (NAMs) and support staff to make informed decisions. Similarly,  he added, the  Local Government   Authorities  (LGAs) ought  to  have  competent Councilors to make devolution, decentralization, service delivery and accountability processes effective and responsive to the needs and aspirations  of  the  local  people.

Mr. Jobe said for the SDGs to succeed, social accountability initiative will have to be high on the agenda to ensure that duty bearers at all levels are accountable to citizens for better service delivery.

He said if National Assembly Members (NAMs) and Councilors are empowered with the requisite skills and knowledge, they shall be able to enact good laws and perform effective oversight. He noted that if these legal frameworks are adequately implemented by all the arms of government, good governance shall be promoted, ensured and mainstreamed in development including  greater  gender sensitivity  in political representation, better service delivery and enhanced welfare for all and sundry.