By Kebba Jeffang
Madam Isatou Bittaye, the senior programme officer of the National Council for Civic Education (NCCE) advised North Bank communities to be tolerant and avoid the use of divisive words during the campaign period as politics comes and goes but the relationship stays forever.
She made these remarks during NCCE face to face meeting held at Alkali Kunda, in the North Bank Region with funding from the UNDP.
“We are an independent state institution established by an Act of Parliament. We are not here to defend or promote any party’s agenda but we are here to carry out our mandated task which is educating and informing the public about their civic rights and responsibilities,” she said.
She noted that their works are determined by the state of affairs at a given time and therefore they chose to enlighten the 20 communities in the NBR on their civic rights during the up-coming presidential election in December. According to her, they have already done similar activities in other regions of the country.
“I will advise you to be tolerant and avoid using divisive words when you are campaigning for a particular party. This politics comes and goes but as a community you are living together forever and that is what should be your guiding principle. Elections are here to avoid violence because without it there will always be conflict in changing leadership if necessary. So we have to be careful,” said Bittaye.
She concluded by urging young people and women to make best use of their votes during the election since that is the power and the voice that they have to decide what they want.
Junkung K. Saidy, senior civic officer also speaking at Ngeyen Sanjal community on Wednesday told the community to accommodate all the parties with respect and non-violence any time they visit them during the campaign. He said no Alkalo (village head) has power to drive any party out because they do not wield such powers.
“All these parties are equal because they have all fulfilled the conditions put in place by the country’s electoral body IEC. He said all of them are Gambians who are talking about development of the country and all have paid the financial attachment to register their party. Therefore, if they come and you don’t want to be part of them, you can sit in your compound but not to disrupt their meetings,” he said.
Mr. Saidy told the gathering not to sell their votes to any party should they request for it because it is like selling their voices. He said election is about accountability and there is a chance to remove the incumbent if necessary or renew his mandate. He advised that on Election Day, no one should put on any wear that indicates where one belongs to as that can bring conflict.
In clarifying a concern made at the meeting, Saidy said it is not true that who you vote for could be detected by someone. He said The Gambia is using a secret ballot system where a voter will be in a polling booth alone and decide which box to cast his vote in. He said setting up secret cameras in the rooms to monitor the voters is not a reality.