By: Kebba AF Touray
The newly established Executive Members of the Parliamentary Reporters’ Association of the Gambia (PRAG on Friday met officials of the National Assembly Service of the Gambia.
The meeting among other things was aimed at formally introducing the association to the Assembly, with the objective of strengthening the collaboration between the two institutions, in the drive to make keep the public abreast with the activities of the assembly, and to bring parliament closer to the people.
Briefing the Legislative Service, Omar Bah, the Dean of the association, hailed the legislative authorities for their swift response to the request of the association, which goes to show the interest and response of the assembly to national interest, and the issues of Gambian parliamentary reporters.
“Our meeting is to primarily introduce the new executive of PRAG that was elected few weeks ago, by the parliamentary reporters to spearhead the association in the next five years, or the remaining years of the current legislature, because the term of the executive runs concurrently with the term of the assembly,” he said.
He said that the association’s executive is composed of a total nine members, 5 males and 4 females, which also goes to show the great consideration and respect that the association has for gender balance and equality, adding that in every position that is led by a male, a female is the assistant and vise-viser.
“We are also here to inform the National Assembly of our plan to officially launch the association at some point this month. The essence of this association is to ensure among others things that the parliamentary reporters have a cordial or maintain a cordial relationship with the National Assembly,” he said.
Gilbert BorketeyBoyefio, representative of African Parliamentary Press Network (APPN), expressed his excitement with the meeting explaining that journey started in 2022, but that did not yield dividend, but that upon reviving the executive structure of the association, the new executive has taken upon itself to work the talk.
“For us that is very good sign. As an organization that works with the media on the continent, we are also excited about the support we received from the parliament towards the group. These journalists have been reporting here and are not new to the assembly, and have received support in their individual capacities,” he said.
He expressed that now that the reporters have organized themselves into a formidable group, that support and collaboration between the two entities will be increased, and that they are also expecting that through the collaboration, parliamentary information would be enhanced and the public will get more parliamentary information.
Daneil Carlos, the Deputy Clerk Legislative Business, said that issues of the national assembly are very sensitive and that how journalists relate those issues or what obtains in the parliament to the public must be very accurate, and should be an exact presentation of what happens at the parliament.
He expressed that the previous training provided to the parliamentary reporters on legislative reporting is crucial, saying “Because whenever parliament presents something, they way is perceived greatly depends on who extends the information”.
Khalipha MM Mbye, Deputy Clerk Leal and Procedural Matters of the Assembly, congratulated the members of PRAG for coming with an association which they take pride in and are excited with, adding that it is a step in the right direction.
“As administrators and management of the National Assembly Service, we take pride of this formation of the association. The journey should in collaboration between the two entities in the context that we share the mutual objective, that is to take the parliament closer to the people and that’s what we want as National Assembly Service,” he said.
He stated that the partnership has ever been there, maybe it was not formalized, and seeing any kind of structure trying to formalize that partnership that will be more than welcome form their part, and that they are ready and their doors are open to partner and collaborate with PRAG.
GubairuJanneh, the Director of Press at the Assembly said it is their interest to see that there is a cordial relationship with the media, adding that that helps in taking the parliament to the people.
“Journalists are the foot soldiers of citizen engagement. They are the ones on the ground, but we cannot collaborate when there is nothing in place, and this has been giving me a lot of pressure, because if I sit here leading parliamentary outreach efforts, and the media is not visible in that effort, it means I have failed in doing what I am supposed to do,” he lamented.
He expressed that with the association in place those issues will be addressed, adding that there will be a structure in place to ensure that journalist who are trained are accredited and become the face of the assembly.