A new executive was voted into office after what had been a difficult period for the Union. It came at a time when the immediate past executive had been accused of overstaying in power, among other banal charges. Change was what had for so long been clamoured for and it has now happened, an indication of the democratic character of the union, which is one of its core strengths.
The Gambia Press Union is the umbrella body of all journalists and media workers in the country mandated basically to promote and safeguard the rights, interests and welfare of its members. Its other mandates include promoting and defending the right of freedom of expression, the right to freedom of information and fostering media pluralism and diversity in the country.
It is true that the new executive of the Gambia Press Union is assuming power at a time when the Union is faced with serious challenges. Key among them is the misconception that the Union is incapable of managing its own affairs. Unfortunately, this wrong perception is growing due to misinformation and distortion. The new executive would, therefore, be wise to be on top of things by being proactive, diligent, disciplined and decisive.
It is not presumptuous to say that the new executive is bursting with zeal to re-position the Union, which is the desire of all its members, both at home and abroad. As a result, the coming months will be crucial for introspection, self-analysis and rethinking of strategies and focus, with special emphasis on constitutional and governance reforms.
Bai Emil Touray who has been re-elected to serve a second three-year term as president and his lieutenants must build on the laudable accomplishments of the Union including the establishment of the first-ever school of journalism in the country and the printing press that serves the needs of the media community, while at the same time adopting practical remedial measures to deal with existing challenges.
With nearly two decades of experience of serving the Union at various capacities such as assistant secretary general, secretary general and president, Mr Touray knows more than anyone else in the media that the Union is in dire need of funds, the lifeblood of any organisation. It is therefore incumbent on him and his team to creatively chart a path for self-sustenance for the Union in addition to encouraging members to fulfil their financial obligations to the Union without delay. That is the only way to wean the Union out of donor-dependency which, based on the accounts of the immediate past executive at the congress, is rapidly drying up.
Once again, we doff our hats to the men and women of the media who voted the new executive into office. They have done us proud so far, but there is an urgent need for solidarity and goodwill and sincerity in order to surmount the daunting challenges that lie ahead.]]>