By: Kebba AF Touray
Erin McMenamin, Program Manager at the International Republican Institute (IRI) and Center for Global Impact, said the Legislature should always prioritise the needs of the people they represent.
Erin McMenamin said this on Friday 20th January 2023, during an interview with this reporter on the sideline of the two day training on legislative oversight for Members of the Sixth Legislature of the Gambia. She informed that their presentation will focus on the different tools and types of oversight mechanisms that the national assembly can engage in, to ensure honest open and effective governance practices of the executive and legislative branches in the interest of the citizenry.
She said they will delve into numerous issues particularly on how the legislative branch can assert their authority and ability in the implementation of laws on public hearings, to show the citizens whether or not, the government is working for them.
“Legislatures have similar challenges in asserting their authority and carrying out their duties in a way that makes government accessible to the people, and I am sure the national assembly has similar challenges which the US Congress faces in ensuring that competing priorities are addressed in the right order and being responsive to what the citizens want their government to do for them,” Erin McMenamin said. She expressed that her expectation is for Gambian lawmakers to derive something useful from the information that they share and to enable them implement it in their daily work.
Jennifer Daulby, former Chief Staff and Director at the United States House of Representatives, said the objective of the training is to spread and strengthen democracy in the country, and expressed her appreciation to the positive response made by Gambian lawmakers towards the two day training.
“I think they are willing and interested to learn in serving the Gambian people, because they showed up and want to continue improving in the delivery of their services to the Gambian people. My role in the training is to share my experience and expertise so that they can take what might be useful for their country,” she said.
Jimmy Sankaituah, IRI’s resident Program Director for Gambia and Sierra Leone, said the Institute has been in the Gambia since 2016 and has supported the process of the transition from the Jammeh era to the current dispensation.
“Since that time, we remain committed to supporting the democratic consolidation in the Gambia. Part of what we are doing here over the last four days, has been to continue strengthening that efforts that we initiated in 2016,” he said. He said the training is linked to the previous one done and the one they intend to do in the future.
“We are laying the groundwork, and are putting in place the tools, systems and processes to be able to give members of the national assembly the capacity and information they need to be able to do their work better,” he said.