Democracy and civic awareness

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During President Adama Barrow’s Meet the People Tour, he made a series of promises while meeting Gambian citizens some of which have sparked a heated debate in the public. Of interest is the promise to construct sixty mosques in the country under the auspicious of the Barrow Youth Movement (BYM).

The reaction of the public to this – pointing out that the building of mosques falls outside the purview of a democratically elected president – shows that the citizens of the country are increasingly becoming aware of their civic duties, responsibilities and awareness.

The Press Secretary at the State House is reported to have sought to clarify on the BBC that the funds are not public funds but provided to the Barrow Youth Movement by an outsider. Even this, did not calm the agitation of some people as they see it as having raised more questions than it answered. The argument is that if it has nothing to do with government, then why announce it at a meeting which is in fulfilment of a constitutional requirement.

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There are of course those who see it as a need of some section of society as they are interested in mosques and thus are to be met. Thus, if the president wishes to build them a mosque then no harm is done. Whichever of the arguments one favours, one thing is clear- Gambians are no longer aloof to the politics of the nation; they show an active interest in what happens here.

Government and the opposition parties should welcome this interest and build on it to ensure that citizens are sensitized so they become politically aware. This is important in a democracy.

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