Saidy, a senior civic education officer at the National Council for Civic
Education (NCCE) has described elections as the lifeblood of democracy and
appealed to all voter cardholders to exercise their civic duties by voting in
the forthcoming local government elections.
Mr. Saidy was speaking at Bantang Nyima village in Lower River Region-North as part of the third phase of the nationwide community civic and voter education campaign organised by his council ahead of next month’s local government elections. “Voting is the most important democratic activity and every citizen has equal right to vote in elections which allow us to express our political will.”
According to him, participation in elections must not be for just voting sake but must be based on knowledge and critical thinking for it to be meaningful.
The campaign targets 20 communities in Lower River Region and aims to enlighten citizens on the importance, roles and functions of Mayor/Mayoress, chairpersons and councilors in community development. The sensitisation engagement would also seek to promote unity and political tolerance among citizens, to ensure peace during and after the elections.
The activity is also meant to change people’s perceptions on local government elections to avert high voter apathy in the lower elections.
Highlighting the role of councilors, Mr. Saidy said every council shall be the planning authority of its area and plans and implements programmes or projects for the general uplifting of their communities and prepares comprehensive and uninterrupted development plans.
He said it is the councilor’s role to ensure that citizens benefit from the taxes they pay through the provision of basic social services such as water, street lights, markets, feeder roads, support women with labour saving devices such as milling machines, women gardens, support the education of children through scholarship and provide environmental sanitation.
He called on all to shun tribal politics that may create divisions among them, saying elections come and go but people will continue to live together as citizens. He also urged voters not to sell their votes, saying their votes represent their four-year development.
He pointed out that the constitution and the election laws of the country set out how regular elections will be held to ensure that government officials know that they will be held accountable for their actions and decisions and can be removed from office.
He appealed to Gambians to always think sincerely about their choices before making their minds to vote, saying in casting votes; people take the responsibility to decide who they want to represent them in any position.