Members of the Sixth Legislature developed their legislative and oversight parliamentary functions after undergoing a four day comprehensive training organised by the International Republican Institute IRI at the Sir Dawda Jawara international conference centre.
The capacity building training seeks to empower lawmakers and upgrade their capacity in appropriate areas of their legislative functions and ensure they contribute to an effective parliament.
Members were drawn from various parliamentary committees including Finance and Public Accounts Committee, Public Enterprises Committee, Constitutional Matters and Human Rights Committee, Agriculture Committee and Health Committee among others.
The MPs were trained on basic functions of the legislature with emphasis on constituent engagement, importance of the Standing Orders, legislative advocacy, processes involved in drafting a private member bill, process of law amendments, committee oversight, media and citizenship engagement.
IRI resident program director in the Gambia, Joseph Jimmy Sankaituah expressed profound gratitude to the United States Embassy in Banjul for providing his organisation the necessary funding to train members of parliament and provide them necessary skills, knowledge and tools to effectively perform their functions.
Mr Sankaituah reassured of the IRI’s commitment to collaborate with the National Assembly to build its human and institutional capacity to promote and sustain democracy, good governance and transparency.
The speaker of the National Assembly Fabakary Tombong Jatta said the forum expounded the representational role of the National Assembly thereby examining how members can respond to the growing public pressure for greater involvement, information, accountability, and better service delivery to citizens.
He said it also avail NAMs the opportunity to share experiences with the trainers illustrating the different options that the National Assembly can use to better engage with the citizens to fulfil its role of representation and identify innovations and experiences from other countries to show how parliamentary representation is evolving, how parliaments are responding to citizens expectations and how the representational role of parliament can be strengthened so that citizen can actively and efficiently participate in decision making processes through parliament.
Jennifer Daulby, former senior staff at the U.S. House of Representatives, who is one of the resource persons for the training, said the commitment and willingness of NAMs to the training is a demonstration of strive to better serve the Gambian people.
The Program Manager at the IRI’s Centre for Global Impact, Erin McMenamin, explained that the parliament should always be prioritizing the needs of their constituents.
She explained that all the presentations focus on the different tools and types of oversight mechanisms that the national assembly can engage in to ensure honest, open and effective governance practices of the executive and legislative branches to ensure that the government is working for the citizens.