By Mustapha Jallow
Mr. Yusupha Bojang, Program Manager of the National Council for Civic Education (NCCE), has urged Gambians in the rural area to be civic conscious and tolerant ahead of 2021 election in order to advance national development.
Bojang made the call on Monday at a 6-day dialogue session with residents of N’Jau in the Central River Region (CRR). This was to engage them on peace-building, significance of women and youth inclusion in grassroots and national development, the role of local authorities in promoting women and youth participation in decision making-process.
“We think it is important that we start engaging people on continuous basics to dialogue and communicate, so that they will witness a peaceful election,’’ he said.
Bojang said the dialogue sessions organised by NCCE and supported by United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in collaboration with United Nations Peace Building Fund (UNPF), are part of efforts NCCE is employing to ensure citizens are well informed and prepared before the upcoming elections.
Bojang encouraged participants to be tolerant and to continue discussing issues affecting them. With this, he added, some of the tensions will be diffused. He said without sensitization, tensions will escalate leading to fracas during election. He said their study suggested that women and youth are often left behind when it comes to participation and active involvement on critical national issues.
The Chief of Upper Saloum, Demba Sey, said people can only fit in their communities when there is peace, adding that when conflicts arise, women and young people suffer more.
“It’s important we are involved in decision making processes,’’ he said.
Chief Sey called on civic education officials to regularly carry out civic education engagements with Gambians, especially in rural communities. He also called on stakeholders to support NCCE to effectively carry out its mandate and reach out to entire Gambians.
Alh. Demba Sayang, the Chief of Kiang Central, highlighted the sources of undesirable conflicts in their area, saying political intolerance is the major problem.
“It [political intolerance] affected our social relations and religion. It is a phenomenon that should be critically assessed because it is deepening,” he said.
Speaking at Bansang, Chief of Janjanbureh, Bakary Jam Jawo, said it is important to have a continuous conversation on issues in order to ensure citizens prepare better ahead of the election.
Lady Councillor for Janjanbureh, Madam Kumba Masireh, called on women to do away with being cheer leaders for political leaders.
“We the (women) are tired of clapping for men leaders and following them. We want to be in leadership and decision-making processes,” she said.
According to district Youth Chairperson for Niamina, Abdoulie Ballah-Sallah, some of the challenges young people face in their efforts to get to grassroots leadership positions includes structural barriers.