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City of Banjul
Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Citizens and governments – mutual responsibility

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Today, talk about the responsibilities of citizens and governments have become a puzzling exercise that is steeped in complicated language, leaving the layman with an unclear mind-set as to who should play what role. Our contemporary society is faced with challenges that are huge in magnitude multiplied by these scuffling standpoints. Some will say that a citizen should think of what he/she can do for his/her country and not what the country can do for him/her, while others take the contrary stand.

Here I put a rhetorical question to the readers, who should play what role for us to move ahead as a society and as a people? Let us start with the role of citizens since they are those that put in place the government machinery to steer their affairs as a people. First and foremost, it is the responsibility of all to be law abiding citizens because violators of the law have no room in our civilised society. This is one fundamental way of showing love for one’s country. It is equally the role of citizens to fully participate in decision making that affects their lives either directly or indirectly. Then comes the choice of our leaders who represent us in government done through elections. It is often said that the apolitical beings are those that choose undesirable leaders which I unreservedly subscribe to. It is also the role of citizens to jealously safeguard the political independence and territorial integrity of their county. Those are what constitute good citizenship.

Now to the role of government, it is quite appalling when some societies cannot prosper because of a government that does not know its responsibility. To start with, all governments have the primary responsibility of working in accordance with the law, for violators of the law have no room in our modern and civilised society as I pointed out earlier. It is the role of governments to contribute to the socio-economic well-being of their people and more importantly create an environment for all to pursue their inalienable rights of life, liberty and happiness in a dignified manner without harassment. Governments must also take the leading role in creating awareness among the citizens on their rights, more importantly political rights which is the foundation for enlightened citizenry who will be set to take ownership of  the country they inhabit.

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Today, so many countries are wobbly because one of these parties has failed to a greater extent in fulfilling their mandate. Therefore, the time has come to put a halt to the blame game and mutual recriminations that have been pervasive in our countries in the cases of failure which is all too common  in Africa. It is high time we started embarking on taking up our respective roles to move our countries further on the path to peace and prosperity. This is our challenge and it is the only way out for people who want to leave in a safe and secure society. 

Musa Manneh

Jarra Soma


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