NCCE embarks on civic, voter education ahead of December polls

Mamos Media

By Cherno Omar Bobb

With the presidential elections on the horizon, the National Council for Civic Education (NCCE) has kick-off a massive civic and voter education sensitisation campaign to limit voter apathy and ensure a violence-free election.

Obligated by its desire to deliver effective and efficient civic education to all citizens across The Gambia in the electioneering period and to limit voter apathy, NCCE said no community seemed far and inaccessible to their committed and dedicated staff.

The campaign began on Thursday 21st October in Upper River Region (URR). Two teams of NCCE campaigners are deployed in URR North and South simultaneously conducting face to face community sensitization meetings.

The first and second day meetings were held  in Demba Wandu, Mamadi Ceesay Kunda, Sare Gubu Basiru and Misira in Sandu District URR North, while other engagements were held in the villages of Bolibana, Brikama, Song Kunda and Jawo Kunda in Kantora District , URR South.

The campaign in the form of face-to-face community sensitisation was launched in Bolibana village in Kantora District on 21st October 2021 and formed part of the first phase of a nationwide whistle-stop sensitisation to promote civic awareness for increased electoral participation.

It is expected to last for ten days, covering 40 major communities in the URR to enhance the understanding and appreciation of citizens of their civic rights and duties of voting as well as spur inclusive and popular participation in the elections and promote political tolerance in this charged political fever.

Outlining the objectives of the sensitisation, Senior Programme Officer of NCCE, Ansumana Ceesay said the upcoming December 4th election is just more than electing a president but also a litmus test to Gambia’s bourgeoning democracy, adding that, therefore the sensitization is geared towards promoting citizen political consciousness, culture of political, tolerance, peace and security throughout the electoral process as well as increase public awareness about civic and political rights.

The sensitization, he  said is also aimed to encourage the public for massive participation and high voter turnout in the forthcoming Elections. Mr Ceesay urged citizens to be law abiding and promote peace.

The voter education campaign messages are focusing on the following; the principles of democracy, importance of voting and holding elections, constitutional guarantee for political rights,  nomination requirements for presidential candidates, important dates for the 2021 presidential election, code of conduct for election, political tolerance and its importance. The messages are geared towards empowering citizens with requisite knowledge for active participation in the upcoming presidential election.

According to Mr Ceesay, the elections will be a pivotal moment to sustain and solidify the momentous achievements of the historic 2016 elections and cement the democratic trajectory of the country.

He noted that given the current political climate which is characterized by rising political rhetoric including tribal lines and intra/inter-party disputes, the risks could not be higher. Therefore, he said NCCE, in the weeks and months ahead intends to execute a robust nationwide civic education campaign using the media and grassroots structures to reach out to as many Gambians as possible with a specific focus on voter education, sensitization, mobilization and peace messages to ensure the elections process is inclusive, participatory and peaceful.

“Elections are indispensable in a democracy and offer citizens opportunity twice in a decade to express their preferences and choose their representatives in a peaceful manner,” he further said, noting that this is one of the features that make democracy standout among other systems of governance.

“The right to have a voice in selecting those who govern is not just a basic human right but enshrined in the Constitution of The Gambia thus creating the foundation for political participation of citizens,” he also said.

The NCCE Senior Programmes Officer further said that the Constitution guarantees every Gambian citizen, who is eighteen years and above and of sound mind the right to be registered as a voter and vote in an election in The Gambia.

The Constitution, Ceesay said recognizes that voting in an election is the ultimate expression of this right. However, there has been a worrying trend of low voter turnout in recent elections, which according to him can affect the legitimacy of the elected candidate. He therefore urged Gambians to come out in large numbers and vote for their choice on 4th December, 2021 to avert low voter turnout.

Recently, the NCCE has taken other significant steps toward enhancing political participation in The Gambia, particularly during the general voter registration period when similar campaign were organised galvanising Gambians to get registered and now hope to translate that momentum to an unprecedented voter turnout in the election.

Mr Ceesay called on the youth and women who constitute the majority of Gambian voters to continue their contribution to guarding the democratic gains the Gambia had attained over the years and advised the latter not to allow themselves to be used as pawns in the political chess game. He further stated that the Gambia is universally known as the Smiling Coast of Africa and a shining example when it comes to stability. He encouraged every Gambian to remain committed to the Gambia’s pursuit of holding successful, inclusive, credible and peaceful elections.

COB/DAJ/25/10/21

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