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Voting is a civic right, says GPU SG

Aug 26, 2016, 9:50 AM | Article By: Yai Dibba & Kaddijatou Jawo

(Thursday August 25th, 2016 Issue)

Saikou Jammeh, Secretary General of the Gambia Press Union (GPU), has said that since journalists are dealing with the public, they have to deliver good messages and work together based on our traditions, constitution and culture.

He said that in previous elections they have witnessed voter apathy or a low turnout, adding that voting is a civic right and the failure of the voter is the failure of the media.

The GPU secretary general was speaking at a two-day orientation workshop for commercial radio stations on the use of voter education messages, organised by Media Agenda and held at the Tango conference hall.

The training workshop, held on 24 and 25, was funded by the US Embassy in Banjul.

He said a lot of mistakes had been done by the media in the past caused by lack of sensitisation.

“The newspapers have very limited capacity to sensitize the public because we have four major newspapers in the country and more than 20 community radios, but half of the population is not literate, but all of them have access to community radios,” he told the journalists.

He said most of the public do not have access to newspapers because they do not buy newspapers and news is normally read on radios in English and local languages, hence “if you want to target the masses you target the radio.”

Cherno Jallow, a media consultant and veteran journalist, also speaking on the occasion, said the role of the media is to inform, educate and entertain.

He said educating voters is not new; they have been doing this for years and the electorate are the contested ground and the sovereign will of the Gambian people.

Mr Jallow explained that during elections voter turnout is usually minimal, adding that voting is a civic right for every Gambian citizen.

“Your role is to convince the voters to vote and it is the will of the Gambian people to be an obedient servant,” he said.

He said during elections, the politicians come around to convince the public to vote for them, and by voting you exercise the sovereign will.

“The media is responsible for higher voter turnout in your messages you disseminate, and you have improved your communication skills to be able to convince the public why the voters have to vote,” Mr Jallow said.

The coordinator of Media Agenda, Madi Ceesay, in his remarks, said there has been a strong partnership between Media Agenda and the network of community radios.

The radio stations translate the message at local levels and the broadcast journalists transmit the message to the general public; that is why they are key in the training workshop, he added.

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