By Adama Tine
Stakeholders on Tuesday converged at the Kairaba Beach Hotel to validate the new Bill for the National Council for Civic Education (NCCE).
The bill seeks to transform the NCCE from a Council to a Commission and it also seeks to set up regional offices across the country, among other things.
Mustapha Yabo, in his opening remarks on behalf of the Secretary General and Head of the Civil Service commended the leadership and staff of NCCE as well as other stakeholders for the validation of the long-overdue reform of the NCCE.
According to him, over the past two decades, The Gambia suffered immensely under an authoritarian rule characterised by poor governance, limited considerations for democracy and abuse of fundamental human rights of citizens.
He stated that since we are less than 100 days to the 2021 presidential elections, it is important for us as a country to renew our commitment to the advancement of democracy and the rule of law but also to sustain the gains “we have achieved over the last five years.”
“The participation of all citizens in this process is essential towards maintaining a democratic system of government in The Gambia. One way of enhancing the capacity of the population to effectively participate in democracy is through civic education,” he stated.
Yabo added that citizens need to be provided with the correct information on their rights and issues of governance that will enable them effectively participate in public affairs and national development.
“With the new bill, I am very optimistic that the NCCE will be in a better position to give citizens the requisite civic knowledge and skills that will help them respond and participate in all national development issues effectively,” he further said.
Dawda A. Jallow, Attorney General and Minister of Justice said the new bill will give NCCE more power and independence to be able to come up with comprehensive civic education programmes and activities that will provide the much needed natural and non-partisan information as a means of enabling and enhancing civic participation.
Sering Fye, NCCE chairman said the bill seeks to obtain a direct and detailed mandate of the institution, clear the ambiguity of the independence of the NCCE, enhance the availability of funds with predictability and certainty as well as set up regional offices across all the regions of the country to bring civic education to the doorsteps of people in rural Gambia.
According to the NCCE chairman, the primary objective of upgrading is to expand NCCE’s capacity in terms of a new legal instrument and structural reforms to improve efficacy and efficiency in service delivery.