By Cherno Omar Bobb
The National Council for Civic Education (NCCE) has kick-off a massive civic and voter education sensitisation programme on the general voter registration exercise about to be conducted by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) from May to July 2021 ahead of the December presidential elections.
Supported by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) – The Gambia, the sensitisation seeks to avail citizens, particularly women and young people, with information such as who qualifies to be registered and when to be registered with a view to having all eligible Gambians to be registered to vote in the crucial presidential elections in December.
Speaking at the launching ceremony held at Keneba in Kantora District, in the Upper River Region (URR) on Friday, Yusupha Bojang, Programme Manager of NCCE, said Voter registration is a key element in ensuring that all qualified citizens can enjoy the right to vote.
According to Mr. Bojang, the face-to-face community sensitisation formed part of the first phase of a nationwide whistle-stop sensitisation to promote civic awareness for increased electoral participation.
The programme is expected to last for ten days, covering over 40 major communities in URR and Central River Region (CRR) to enhance the understanding and appreciation of the citizens’ civic rights and duties to register and acquire a voter’s card as well as spur inclusive and popular participation in the voter registration exercise and subsequently in the elections.
“Elections are a cardinal pillar in a democracy and offer citizens an unrivalled opportunity to periodically voice their preferences and choose their representatives in a peaceful manner”, Mr Bojang stated.
He described elections as one of the features that makes democracy standout among other systems of governance. He noted that the right to have a voice in selecting those who govern is not just a basic human right but enshrined in the Constitution thus creating the foundation for political participation of citizens.
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 recognizes that voting in an election is the ultimate expression of this right.
The NCCE informed the public that to register in the upcoming voter registration exercise, one has to prove one’s Gambian citizenship by producing either a birth certificate, national identity card, passport, alkalo or district chief’s attestation.
The NCCE was created as an independent non-partisan Council under the Constitution, to design and coordinate civic education programmes and to serve as the advocacy component to the National Governance Programme.
It envisioned a politically enlightened citizenry based on the principles of democracy and good governance as enshrined in the Constitution and other international legal instruments.