Below is the media statement on the post-election activities disclosed to media outlets by the Chairman of the National Council for Civic Education, Mr. Serigne Fye.
National Dialogue on Peace and Reconciliation in Foni, West Coast Region
This was a peaceful forum meant to unite the region to bring back trust and confidence among the citizens and between the citizens of the region and state. It really helps in restoring normalcy and the country at large after a deep schism that characterized the aftermath of the presidential and parliamentary elections.
Democracy, Civic Rights and Duties of Citizens in a Democracy
Face to face community meetings-This was an awareness raising campaign aimed at sensitizing the populace on democracy and civic rights and duties of citizens in a democracy. This is to address some of the illusions about democracy and the new Gambia, which is causing irresponsible behaviors which could affect the peaceful coexistence in the country if not addressed. It was intended to cover the whole country and so far six districts are covered ‘ kombo, foni,kiang, jarra, Niamina and Upper Fulladu.
As part of the ongoing awareness raising campaign on democracy, seminars are also organized targeting a across section of youth organization/groups, journalists and CSOs.
Radio programs were also organized to reach out to the wider audience who may not be opportune to attend the community meetings and seminars. Six radios in the Kombos were engaged in this activity.
Local Government Activities
Since the Local Government is fast approaching and it is the first grass root election under the new dispensation, we intend to embark on massive civic and voter education campaign using every available medium to reach out to the people, with the objective to change the long tradition of voter apathy in the local Government Election and to promote pluralism and political tolerance which are fundamental in ensuring peace during and aftermath the election.
Among the planned activities;
Massive community outreaches in all the regions across the country targeting different sections of the society;
Seminars in seven regions, targeting political parties, youth groups and women folks;
Radio and TV talk-shows and broadcasting of recorded spots on both TV and Radio. National, private and community radio as well as the print media will be engaged in this crusade.
Despite the commitment in executing our mandate, the NCCE is confronted with a number of challenges as follows;
Mobility is a major challenge to the operations of the NCC, as most of our engagements with communities require trekking. Almost all the vehicles we are having are more than 10 years old and as such, maintaining them is becoming a big challenge. Right now we are only depending on one trekking vehicle which was allocated to us by the current government, for all our field engagements.
This is one of the major challenges to the operations of the institutions and if not addressed will significantly affect our work during the upcoming Local Government Elections. Since we are not decentralized, therefore the only reaching out to the communities is through trekking to meet the people in their respective localities, which cannot be possible in the absent of vehicles.
The NCCE since inception is without a permanent office. All along we were housed by the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education at their School Farms and Gardens in the World Food Program Stores complex. After series of correspondence requesting for a permanent and more conducive office, council was asked by the Government to move to the Government Expert House along Bertil Harding Highway, kotu. However, our stay in this very building is temporal, as the building is for experts hired by Government and presently some judges are housed here.
Limited Budgetary Allocation
Due to the limited nature of the NCCE’s budget and manner in which it is disbursed, Council is virtually left with little or nothing after the payment of recurrent expenditures. This resulted in the institution wholly relying on partners for support to carry its mandate. The underfunding of the council continues to be a major challenge and weakness. his has resulted in the council’s inability to maximize its output to the people with civic education.
Programs and activities Decentralization
Lack of decentralization of the NCCE is also a challenge in adequately serving the Gambian populace. Right now council has only one central office and this is where all the staff operates from. Trekking from the Greater Banjul Areas to the provinces also requires adequate resources which could be utilized in other areas if decentralization takes place.
These constraints are however not new as we have been communicating them through various correspondence to government.