By Mustapha Jallow
Madam Saffiatou Savage-Sidibeh, CRC’s civic education officer, on Friday, 27 October 2018 said that community members must contribute to constitution making as a nation without a constitution is like a boat without a captain.
“A nation without constitution is like a boat without captain,’’ she said.
She made these remarks at Kuntaya in the North Bank Region during an ongoing nationwide public education by the Constitution Review Commission (CRC) and National Council for Civic Education (NCCE).
This nationwide sensitisation is aimed at educating the public on the need to ensure transparency and peace during the drafting of the Constitution.
“You Gambian people, the Constitution belongs to you and you are the ones to decide its content. The Constitution is not partisan but meant for all Gambians,’’ she said.
She said that CRC was mandated to draft a new Constitution and secondly after their consultation they have to write a report to show the method they used to draft the Constitution. She urged the Kuntaya community not to keep the message to themselves but to spread it to neighbouring communities.
According to Madam Savage-Sidibeth, women, youth, elders and everyone should contribute to the making of a new Constitution.
The CRC constitutional review officer also challenged women to fully contribute to the constitution-making process as women are the mothers, teachers and doctors.
She added that women should try and understand the issues raised in the constitutional booklet and derive ideas as to what should be part of the laws on women. “You women have a voice and that needs to be heard but it would not be heard without your participation here,’’ she remarked.
“I call on you (the people of Kuntaya), especially the youth and educated people to participate because everyone among them knows something,” she stated. She indicated that the opinions of the youth and women in the process matter and should be included.
Ousman Ngum, a native of Kuntaya said that when the ward councillor comes they will inform him about the meeting and will tell him to inform their neighbours.
Alhagie Ousman Sinyan said that he was delighted to receive such an important meeting from both officials. He added that this civic education on the constitution making process would help them.
“If they say the President will have a meeting here people will turn-out in large numbers but whenever it is time for civic education some will prefer to stay at home; they don’t know how useful and important these meetings are,’’ he said. “The Constitution is here to save us all including generations to come,’’ he added.
In short, the NCCE officials, Kebba O. Jobe and Ansumana Yaibou expressed disappointment about the turn-out in Kuntaya. They said this community has disappointed not only them but also the Kuntaya Alkalo since he has informed “you about the meeting and you refused to come out.’’
A similar message was also delivered at Kerr Ngorr by the same officials of CRC and NCCE where the turnout by community members of this settlement was good and they listened attentively.
In his opening short remarks, the Chairman of NCCE Mr. Sering Fye informed them that their mission was to write a new Constitution that will be good for all Gambians.
“We are here to educate you about the constitution review process because another high-level team will soon come and ask your about ideas on what should be changed in the Constitution,’’ he said.
“You will be in a form of groups, whereby youth, women and elders will be asked by constitutional commissioners for your ideas, thinking and content of the Constitution,’’ he said.
Natives of Kerewan, especially women in Lower Baddibu on Saturday, 28 October have said that they are not pleased with foreigners who come to the Gambia and secure voters’ cards.
Ajaratou Binta Manneh-Hydara complained about some from outside the country that would secure voters’ cards and even vote, which seem not to be fair for the citizens of the Gambia and “our constitution’’.
“Some are having voters’ cards and they are not Gambians and I’ve seen that. So I am asking whether that’s right in our Constitution,’’ she asked.
Bakary Ceesay from the same town also said that the meeting was very useful; that certain laws need to be reviewed. He asked the officials whether the booklet distributed to them would be discussed on the radio so that their work can be easier.
At Kinteh-Kunda in Lower Baddibu, both officials were received with a crowd of women and young girls. The same speech was delivered to the community members and officials said that it is through effective participation in decision-making at all levels that the people could uphold and defend the new Constitution.