The state opening of the National Assembly was held yesterday beginning the legislative session for this year. The Assembly which is the voice of the people within the realms of the government is called upon to uphold this important role and execute it with the same confidence the people have reposed in the members. Anybody who is privileged to be elected by the people, has to know it’s a great and historic responsibility. So it becomes a binding mandate on the representatives to give due deference to that confidence bestowed on them by the people and immediately set about the task of serving them with the integrity, patriotism and selflessness expected of them.
The oath which the National Assembly members swear upon is a clear testimony of the sacred duty laid upon them by the people in their constituencies. Therefore, by virtue of that oath, they are urged to serve the interest of their people and the nation without fear or favour, affection or ill-will. By nature human beings are more often than not divided between loyalties and the NAMs are no exception to this. In a situation like this, they should be reminded, first by their conscience, that the highest loyalty is owed to none but their people. Above and beyond everything else, National Assembly members should be men and women of the people, hence their highest priority should be accountability to their people before any other vested interests.
Inherent in the principles of democracy is the need to constantly consult the masses whiles serving in a public office. To go back to the people and lay before them the successes and shortcomings in our collective effort for development and together envision a way forward. For it goes without saying that the policies that are discussed and acted upon within the corridors of power affect the daily lives of the people who vested those powers in the policymakers. Therefore, democracy dictates that they are consulted as frequently as possible and kept abreast of proceedings that take place in the four halls of the Assembly .
Transparency and accountability in the dealings and proceedings are key ingredients that must be safeguarded in the work of the assembly. Democracy has become a popular choice of governance mainly because it enhances the power of the people and it is a moral responsibility of the bearers of that power to be accountable to the people who entrusted it to them. The democratic process is one rooted in accountability to the people and transparency in all of actions of the public officer, and without these two virtues, then democracy becomes nothing but another ideology that fails the test of time and with that failing the common aspirations of the people.
All these virtuous concepts and great democracy will remain a pipe dream in the womb of our wishes and aspirations if the National Assembly shies away from the sometimes awkward choices that are necessary for fulfilling them. A democracy can never be called one when the voices of the people remain unheard and irrelevant in the policy making process. And the only people who can make these possible are the National Assembly members. So it is upon them the duty to nurture The Gambia’s experiment with democracy so that the aspirations of our people will be reflected in the governance process. So here you’re entrusted with the voices, cries and hopes of the Gambian populace. As you open for this year, we wish you fruitful proceedings.]]>