By Kebba Jeffang
Mr. Yusupha Bojang, the assistant programme officer of the National Council for Civic Education, advised the communities in Tumana and Kantora district in the Upper River Region to accommodate all political parties and to desist from any form of violence during the campaign period prior to the 1st December Presidential election.
This sensitization on civic and political rights and participation in elections will also cover other communities in the districts of Jimara and Basse.
While speaking at Keneba, Garawol, Suduwol among a lot of others in Tumana and Kantora districts on 2ndand 3rd October, Mr. Bojang also advised the villagers to exercise their voting rights which is also their responsibility as citizens of the country.
Earlier on, he said his office is established under the Constitution of the Gambia as an independent institution mandated to educate the citizens on the Constitution and other laws of the Gambia as well as to understand their civic rights and responsibilities. He said the NCCE has been meeting the communities in all parts of the country to sensitise them on these issues so that they can make informed choices at public elections and referanda.
Mr. Bojang said since the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) has announced the electoral cycle starting with the presidential election on the 1st of December, it becomes necessary for them to sensitise the public in their own languages.
“Election is about accountability and December has come for us to do that as citizens,” he told the communityies.
He said the President was voted in power in order to deliver on the demands and expectations of the people within the past five years. “Since 2011, we have elected him and now we have that power as citizens and by December we are deciding whether we should retain him or remove him. Therefore, each qualified electorate must cast votes on the day as his or her voice because it is your responsibility. Any person who fails to vote has no right to blame or praise any government that comes in power because your voice wasn’t heard,” he said.
Mr. Bojang informed the participants to understand politics and not to perceive it wrongly, noting that it is important because it affects everyone in the country and as such is “not a child’s play”. He said politics is so accommodative that it has no religious, tribal, and regional or gender restrictions or considerations, hence the right for all those who are qualified to vote or be voted for is guaranteed.
“You should be informed that it is a right of every Gambian to seek for political positions and vote during elections. From our findings, we observed that youths and women are always behind in political activities, particularly voting,” said the NCCE official.
He added that women and youths should also understand that their roles in the political parties should be more than being clappers, shouters and followers.
He advised the citizens to be well informed and ensure that parties’ supporters do not engage in fighting during the campaign. He said what people should understand is that they are the relatives and friends who will remain forever in the same communities.
Fatoumatta Kamateh, the procurement officer at NCCE, for her part, urged young people and women to increase their participation rates in the political processes more so elections. She said the elders have done their part and the leadership is in the hands of the young people and they must change the trend in order to take what belongs to them.
She concluded with the advised that votes are not to be sold and it must be taken care of as importantly as any other national document because it is the voice of the people.