By: Kebba AF Touray
The Parliamentary Network Africa (PNAfrica), on Wednesday, 24 November engaged sister institutions in the country to discuss modalities of further strengthening relations between parliamentary reporting networks with the legislatures of their respective countries, as well as enhance the work of the media in reporting parliamentary proceedings. The sister networks include the Gambia’s National Assembly and Network of Parliamentary Reporters.
Gilbert B. Boyefio, program manager for PNAfrica, said his visit inter alia was to abreast their Gambian counterparts of the Open West Africa Project which seeks to promote an open parliament on the continent and facilitate networking among parliamentary engagement and monitoring organizations.
Boyefio said the project is intended to build the capacities of the Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), for them to be able to effectively work with their various parliaments; adding that there are a handful of parliamentary monitoring organizations on the continent which can be critical because working with parliament requires an understanding of its work and procedures, which the project aims to attain.
Boyefio underscored that there is need to widen the capacity of CSOs on the institution of parliament in which the media is a cardinal tool when it comes to reporting the work of parliament. He expressed appreciation for the spirit of cordial relations between the Gambian National Assembly and parliamentary reporters in the country.
While urging the Gambia’s legislature to help in enhancing the reporting potentials of reporters on legislative matters, he challenged the network to work with community radios, so that events happening at the National Assembly are filtered down to the citizenry.
Members of the Network of Parliamentary Reporters in the Gambia expressed their gratitude to PNAfrica Program Manager for the visit and officials of the Gambia National Assembly for the cordial relations that exist between the two entities.
However, they appealed to the National Assembly officials to provide capacity building training for accurate and effective reportimg on legislative matters.
Buba Jatta, Deputy Clerk in charge of Finance and Administration matters of the National Assembly, on behalf of the Clerk, urged reporters to report on the impact of laws enacted and issues discussed on the lives of the people at the Assembly.
“Parliament is different from other sectors. It deals with laws that have a direct impact on the lives of the people. Whatever parliament does, they should be able to rely on journalists in terms of the outcomes of the actions taken by them and its effects on the people,” he said.
This way, he said, people will become more interested in legislative affairs; adding that parliamentary reporters form part of their agenda in terms of providing capacity building training for journalists. He assured that they will contribute in ensuring that Gambians as well as African are informed on parliamentary matters.