By Cherno Omar Bobb
Ansumana Ceesay, Senior Program Officer at the National Council for Civic Education (NCCE) has reminded village alkalolou and other local groups that they are non-political structures and advised them that if they want to sustain and ensure good governance within their various structures then they should not bring politics into their work.
Mr Ceesay made these remarks on Friday at Pakalinding in Jarra West during the training of community structures on civic education and participation in decision-making at the grassroots organised by NCCE and funded by UNICEF under the UN Peace Building Fund.
The Gambia is set to hold presidential elections in December, the first one since the ousting of an authoritarian regime and Mr Ceesay said the election will be a pivotal moment to consolidate and cement the democratic trajectory of the Gambia.
The NCCE senior program officer noted that the election is also coming at a time when the country is deeply polarised.
“There is a rising tide of ethnic and religious-based hate rhetoric on the airwaves and social media,” he stated, adding that these pose the risk of creating social and political instability that can derail the progress of the country and cause chaos.
Therefore, Mr. Ceesay reminded all stakeholders to be law-abiding and desist from the abuse of social media as well as not allow to be used as political tools to cause harm but instead be good role models and agents of peace in our respective communities, especially in this crucial moment as we quickly journey to the December polls.
“Being in a transition and considering the fact that we are in an electioneering period, makes it even more crucial to continue to have constant and continuous civic education to increase civic awareness, mass and inclusive participation in both politics and governance, as well as the maintenance of peace,” he further said.
He also said that NCCE attaches great significance to citizen participation in the governance process. “We strongly believe that no meaningful development and sustainable peace and democratic maturity can be attained if the critical masses are left behind”.
The theme for the training which took place in the Upper River, Central River and Lower River regions was to empower community structures; and provide the foundation for efficient grassroots governance and sustainable development.
The activity follows similar engagements that the NCCE recently rolled out, which brought together women, youths and community leaders meant to increase inclusiveness in decision making and peace building ahead of the 2021 December polls.