One of our biggest problems, and the reason why we had a twenty two year dictatorship was – and still is – the dormant position most civil society organisations continue to take. The majority of the Civil Society Organisations chose – and it seems they still choose- to remain quiet even in the face of serious threats to the democracy of the country.
As government is participatory, decisions should not be left to the politicians alone. The CSOs must play a leading role in the democratisation process. As it is, we only saw them standing up and speaking out when the former president rejected the results and wanted to subvert the will of the Gambian people. After the change of government, many of them returned to their shells, as it were.
Since then, many issues have happened here which deserved the attention of the CSOs but they- most of them at least – remain mute. That is not encouraging. The Civil Society Organisations have to understand that the general public is looking up to them to lead the fight for a better, just, more democratic Gambia.
Whatever has the potential of derailing the progress of our nascent democracy should attract their comments and, if need be, condemnation.
Citizenship requires every individual to play a role in the development of the country. The need for civic education among Gambian masses has never been more acute. Thus, one would have expected the CSOs to take an active part in educating our citizenry on their right, roles, and responsibilities in the governance of our dear nation.
The few who are engaged in this work mainly concentrate on the people in the urban areas. True, these people also need civic education, but the people who need it more – and equally deserve it – are the people who live in the rural areas.
The Civil Society Organisations must therefore stand up and fulfil their leadership role in the governance of the country. This is the call to nation building of which they should be at the forefront.