Mar 16, 2010, 9:14 AM
The proposed UNDP Development Forum Series promises to fill an intellectual void in the public sphere.
The Forum, as conceived, seeks among other things to stimulate intellectual debates and of informing the policymaking process, to provide an avenue for sensitization and information, and consensus building on key development issues, exchange of best practices and strengthening of policymaking for both the Gambia Government and the UNDP.
One of the expected outcomes of the Forum is to make recommendations that may inform policy formulation and possible project/programme interventions by the Government, the UN System, other development partners and the CSO/NGO community.
In simple terms, the Forum is meant to provide direction and purpose for development initiatives in the country. In a progressive society, the intelligentsia serves as the creative nerve centre of progress and prosperity.
The UNDP has therefore come up with a proactive initiative to drive up the development agenda in the country by assembling some of the best minds around to flag off the Forum.
The panelists include Dr Tijan Jallow, former Director of CILLS and currently Capacity Development advisor to various African Governments; Professor Muhammadou Kah, Vice Chancellor of the University of The Gambia; and Dr Mariatou Kah, Director-General of the Management Development Institute.
For the Forum to be relevant and purposeful, panelists would be wise to do away with preconceived notions about an issue in hand.
The public expects them to come up with original thinking that provides fresh insight into the many and varied challenges that the country is grappling with. Regurgitating platitudes; revamping musty lecture notes, or falling back on residual knowledge would be counterproductive.
The country needs original and independent thinking and thinkers to move it forward.
Besides, no idea should be considered sacrosanct at the Forum; every opinion or postulation should be scrutinized and dissected to figure out its merits and demerits as well as its practicability for The Gambia.
There should be no deference to authority or personality; and neither should there be any dogmatic posturing. Perspectives and viewpoints should be accepted or rejected on their merit, relevance, or usefulness.
The Forum offers us a roadmap for rethinking our collective destiny in the spirit of dialogue, mutual understanding and candour. We endorse it without apology or reservation.
"Believe in faith, but lean forward where fate can see you".