It recently concluded a two-week community sensitization exercise in Central River Region - North & South on “Citizens’ Participation in Governance and Politics”, a sensitization activity it funded and conducted in various locations, as part of their routine exercise to enlighten the masses on their role and responsibilities.
The NCCE should be commended for this exercise, which is aimed at cultivating an environment of democratic continuity in The Gambia that would enable all citizens to fully participate in the governance process of the country, through the promotion of political and civic consciousness.
Since the programmer covers democracy, governance, politics, citizenship, civic participation and civic responsibility, citizens are expected to benefit immensely from the exercise.
The NCCE is also out to educate citizens of The Gambia about international, regional and sub-regional matters relevant to The Gambia; as well as to formulate, implement and oversee programmed aimed at inculcating in citizens awareness of their civic and fundamental rights, duties and responsibilities.
We all should show concern and be in a position to know how our nation is governed; therefore people should endeavor to know their rights and duties, as it is a process through which the citizenry acquires knowledge, skills and values that are needed for effective democratic citizenship.
That is why to ensure and encourage the full and meaningful participation of the citizenry in the democratic process of the country, as well as to promote the civic consciousness of citizens, the 1997 Constitution of The Gambia provides for the establishment of a Civic Education Programmer for the enlightenment of the society on civil matters; hence the role the NCCE is playing.
Furthermore, it is also essential to note that knowing our rights is one side of the coin, but exercising those rights and duties is another essential aspect of our civic duty.
As the NCCE rightly states, one of the most basic signposts of a democracy is citizens’ participation in government.
“Participation is the key role of citizens in democracy; it is not only their right, but it is their duty,” the NCCE says.
“Citizens’ participation may take many forms, including standing for election, voting in elections, becoming informed, debating issues, attending community or civic meetings, being members of private voluntary organizations, paying taxes, and even participation to build a better democracy.”
Among other merits, the role by the citizens would help greatly in keeping the government on its toes and serve to always check them up as they steer the affairs of this nation.
“ It is the State which educates its citizens in civic virtue, gives them a consciousness of their mission and welds them into unity..”