By Mustapha Jallow
Ansumana Yabou, civic education officer at the National Council for Civic Education (NCCE), has challenged Jimara residents, to act swiftly by monitoring and holding duty-bearers accountable to ensure social development in their communities.
Mr Yabou made this assertion on 28 November, during an ongoing civic dialogue on constitutionalism, democracy and peace-building engagement in Sotuma Sireh & Fatako communities in the Upper River Region (URR), where citizens were asked to hold their elected representatives accountable for their actions.
The event was held under the – theme: “Entrenching constitutionalism, democratic governance & social cohesion.’’
This was the first phase outreach – campaign, according to the official, to educate Gambians across the country, for them to have better understanding of constitutionalism and democracy.
“Citizens must be ready to hold their leaders accountable,’’ he said. “You elected them to serve you, so therefore it is your responsibility as citizens to monitor them closely,’’ he emphasized.
He added, “Your national assembly members are there to monitor and scrutinize the government on your behalf, but likewise you also have a role to play to ensure that your leaders serve you better.’’
Yabou suggested to these residents to boldly continue calling on their councillors and national assembly members for meetings, to enable them to express their needs.
“Monitoring them is part of accountability, so leaders must ensure that their citizens have necessary information in order to hold them accountable,’’ adding, “This accountability starts at the Presidency, national assembly and even the local government council.’’
According to him, local government councils are important as they are the councils closer to these communities. He explained that community members should engage their councillors, ‘so that the tax collected from them can be ploughed back to them in the form of development’.
“The local government act has stated that 60% of the taxes collected from people should be plough back to social development. You can only get this development if you try to engage your councillors respectively,’’ he said.
Jasong Sanyang NCCE civic education officer said most of the community members do not know what was in their constitution, adding that it is their mandate to come and enlighten them about their rights in the constitution.
Ansumana Ceesay also civic educator of the NCCE, who spoke about the misconception on democracy within Gambians; said some people thought that democracy means an elected –government should not work.
“Others think that democracy is to do or say whatever you want which is a wrong concept,’’ he added.
Jimara chief, Kanimang Sanneh said, “It is important for every citizen to know their rights and responsibilities, and the governance system of their own country.’’
“This meeting will explain to you about peace building and how to avoid conflicts. It is also aimed at empowering women to take leadership in peace-building,’’ he told his fellow community members.
At Fass Bajo and Manneh Kunda in Upper Fulladu East District, where, Nyakaley Ceesay in Fass explained, “when the situation is good for the head of state to govern and provide for the needs of the people, and the National Assembly Members are able to do their work as defined, that is peace”.
The President of the Women of Basse Manneh Kunda Mbamuta Manneh, condemned the systematic censorship of persons who could speak to the President about their needs and constraints at meetings.
However, the outreach sensitization continued to other local communities such as Sandy Kunda and so on, where Junkung Saidy another NCCE civic educator made similar statement on peace building and democracy.