By Olimatou Coker
Ansumana Ceesay, senior programme officer of National Council for Civic Education, has said village development committees and alkalolu must avoid politics in their functions.
Ceesay made these remarks recently at the end of a forum on community structures to promote civic education and increase inclusiveness and participation in decision-making, held in three regions LRR, CRR and URR.
Ceesay said alkalolu and the VDCs should know that the people they are leading do not belong to one political party and must therefore realize that their function is purposely to serve the people at the grassroots without political bias.
He said the alkalolu could give access to politicians to their village Bantabas but should not themselves be involved in party politics in their duties.
Ceesay further reminded the participants that The Gambia is set to hold presidential election in less than 65 days, the first one since the ousting of an authoritarian regime. “This will be a pivotal moment to consolidate and cement the democratic route of the Gambia. But it is also coming at a time when the country is deeply polarized with a rising tide of ethnic and religious-based hate speeches on the airwaves and social media.
“These pose the risk of creating social and political instability that can derail the progress of this country and cause chaos and while we are here advocating and promoting the inclusion of community structures in decision making and their participation in the governance process, we would also like to remind all stakeholders to be law-abiding and desist from the abuse of social media and not be allow to be used as political tools to cause harm, instead we should be good role models and agent of peace in our respective communities, especially in this crucial moment as we quickly journey to the December polls,” he said.
“For us as NCCE, we attach great significance to citizen participation in our governance processes because we strongly believe that no meaningful development and sustainable peace and democratic maturity can be attained if the critical mass are left behind. That is why within the framework of our mandate to create and sustain awareness of constitutional democracy for the achievement of political, economic and social stability through civic education, we have over the years intensify our activities through country-wide public sensitizations campaigns,” he said.