By Olimatou Coker
The National Council for Civic Education, NCCE, in partnership with Ecowas last Saturday commenced a country-wide public sensitisation campaign on national dialogue for democratic governance, tolerance and reconciliation, in Ballanghar, CRR.
NCCE is a government institution mandated to enlighten the citizens on their civic rights and duties, in order to cultivate an environment of democratic continuity in The Gambia that enables all citizens to fully participate in the governance and development process of the country.
Organised under the theme consolidating democratic governance and peaceful coexistence, the programme was attended by people of all walks of life of Ballaghar.
Habbi Touray, chief of Ballanghar village, commended the NCCE for the foresight, and reminded his people that the event was meant for the sharing of ideas to keep the country peaceful.
Fanta Touray, ward councillor of the village, said the hosting of meetings of such magnitude elates them.
“We hope to discuss and know more concerning our role and responsibilities as citizens of this country,” she stated.
Sainy Njie, a native of the village, said the sensitisation was absolutely necessary because “people don’t understand what democracy means”.
“Yes, it is all about freedom of expression, but people misuse it,” he remarked.
Yusupha Bojang, programme manager of NCCE, told the locals that it will require time, for democracy to be understood again in The Gambia, following decades of dictatorial misrule characterised by poor governance and abuse of human rights.
“It is evident that establishing and sustaining democratic rule could be quite challenging as is being experienced in the new dispensation already,” he said.
Speaking further on the enlightenment campaign, he said: “We selected almost 48 communities that we will be touring in this project.
This is the first phase of it in which we will be covering 16 communities.
The message is to enlighten people about what democracy means and their responsibilities as citizens in a democratic dispensation.”
According to him, there is a huge deficit in the understanding of democracy among the citizens which often results in misconceptions, abuses, mistrust, intolerance and division along politic and tribal lines.
“To end this, the National Council for Civic Education deems it important to embark on this sensitisation campaign, to enlighten citizens on the tenets of democracy and good governance as well as promote dialogue and reconciliation to ensure peaceful coexistence in the country, as envisaged in the National Development Plan,” the programme manager explained in detail.
Other speakers were Junkung Saidy, a civic education officer of NCCE and Ansumana Yabou, who advised that as citizens it is important we always remember that the country belongs to all and sundry irrespective of whatever affiliation one may belong to.
“As such, we should learn to respect each other, and accept the fact that this country comprises people of different affiliations,” Yabou noted.
He called for the need to learn to tolerate and respect each other and build bridges across our differences to pursue the common good.