Oct 7, 2014, 10:09 AM
A three-day outreach forum organised by the National Assembly Members for Central River Region and Upper River Region is underway in Janjanbureh, CRR.
The forum on the theme: “National Assembly Members, representatives, legislature and oversight function under social audit” attracted over 300 participants including chiefs, councillors and electorate from URR and CRR.
It was funded by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Government of The Gambia.
Hon Abdoulie Bojang, Speaker of the National Assembly, in his address to the august gathering, said: “If government institutions are accountable to us, it is incumbent on us also to be accountable to our electorate.”
He said the National Assembly as the legislative arm of the Government - the supreme lawmaking body and the highest over-sight body over all public services, interest, institutions, agencies and policy programmes of the executive - has a statuary role and responsibility to regularly interface with the grassroots in such a proactive forum other than the period of electioneering and party politicking.
He added that in all vibrant and responsive democracies like The Gambia’s, there was great need, wisdom and merit for such strategic outreaches to be held in their constituencies.
It was an opportunity for greater scrutiny over the core functions of the National Assembly, he stated.
Hon. Bonjang noted that the forum would serve as a window to create greater public awareness on the work, practices and processes of the parliament, to enhance the way forward for greater democracy and to serve as an avenue for multi-stakeholder consultations, among other purposes.
Dodou CM Kebbeh, Clerk of the National Assembly, in his remarks on the occasion, said it was the third edition of their outreach forum, meant for CRR and URR.
He said that since1994 the National Assembly has been leaving no stone unturned in making sure the principles of the July 22nd Revolution, which calls for accountability, transparency and probity, are maintained.
“Nobody is above public scrutiny including the National Assembly members,” he added, saying it was commendable for national assembly members to go back to their electorate to assess their performances.
Alhagie Omar Khan, Governor of CRR, said the outreach was vital where electorate have the opportunity to discuss the successes and lapses of their national assembly members.
Sirra Ndow, Programme Analyst at the United Nations Development Programme, said the UNDP has resolved to work with the National Assembly in strengthening its work.
She said they have been partnering with the National Assembly for the benefit of The Gambia in capacity building and good governance, especially in respect of the Public Account Committee (PAC) and Public Enterprises Committee (PEC).
According to her, the UNDP is committed to working with the National Assembly in good governance, as it is indispensible to a democratic state.
“This forum provides a unique face to face [meeting] with the electorate to enlighten them about the role of the UNDP, ECOWAS and the IMF,” she said.
She added that the National Assembly must try as much as possible for electorate to know clearly what is expected of them.