The voter turnout in the recently concluded local council elections has been poor indeed. It is estimated that the turnout shrunk by a large parentage compared to the national assembly election, and the presidential election earlier. What is responsible for this is anybody’s guess. Something needs to be done about voter apathy, and fast.
It is important for the citizens to be reminded, or informed, that local government elections are as important as national assembly elections, if not more so. It is the local government elections that lay down the rules of engagement, as it were, for a better, more informed and more transparent national assembly elections and later presidential elections.
The National Council for Civic Education must up its game and work harder to ensure that the electorate know the importance of going out to vote. It is a civic duty which should not – must not – be taken lightly. One’s vote is one’s voice and everyone needs to have a say in the affairs of the nation.
In this drive, the various political parties have a huge role to play. It is the duty of each party to inform its adherents of their duty and responsibility to go out and cast their votes. Political parties should not wait until election time and then go out to the people to campaign to garner votes. They must fulfill their duty to educate their people on the need to vote and have your say in the nation.
By and large though, it is commendable that the election began and ended in an atmosphere of peace and tranquility. This is very important as we observe that in many countries elections end mostly in bloodshed.
The popular belief that Gambians are not interested in politics is a myth. This was evinced in the run-up to the December 2016 presidential election. Gambians took part in the campaign and electrical process. And after the defeat of the former president, who initially conceded defeat but changed his stance later, they continued to show keen interest in the nation’s politicking.
Thus, we all need to come together – individuals, political parties, government, civil society organisations and all others – to increase the level of political awareness.