The January Local Gov't elections
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
The early declaration by the Independent Electoral Commission of the next Local Government elections across the country shows the transparency in which they operate.
The declaration made last Friday before President Yahya Jammeh during their meeting at State House is welcomed by every Gambian.
The IEC had successfully done it in the last Presidential and National Assembly elections in 2006 and 2007 respectively by conducting a free, transparent and fair elections throughout the country.
We hope to see the same in the coming Local Government elections slated for January 24, 2008. Again, on 24th January, 2008, the IEC is expected to take similar steps to ensure yet another success.
Conducting Local Government election must be done with prudence as in any other elections, hence the local government authorities are special representatives of the government throughout the country. Gambians should therefore take this elections seriously.
It should be noted that, not only are the Local government election a reflection of the strong democratic culture established in The Gambia since President Jammeh came to power, but also a crystallisation of the slogan of the governing party which from day one, emphasises the ideology of power to the people. The first coming local government elections therefore, must be seen as part of the process of empowering the local government authorities as key agents in the national development processes.
It must also be seen as part of governments commitment to the decentralisation process, which enables the local governments to take a more active part in decision making process that will uplift the living standard of their people in various districts and regions.
It is therefore important for all Gambians to note that, the current government is committed to the respecting the provisions of the constitution. This is what is called constitutional democracy where in the provisions of the constitution is respected by the government.
Gambians must therefore realise that, the government is giving them their constitutional rights to elect their representatives.
The local government elections are as important as the Presidential and National Assembly elections. The local government authorities are responsible for the provision of several services to the communities, including the provision and the construction of market places, car parks, domains and parks, health and education. Indeed, the local government authorities carry out similar functions as central government authorities. In this context, they are lead agents in the development process.
The important functions of local government authorities therefore, calls for the election of able, willing and capable candidates, who can represent the voters and who put the interest of voters first. Gambians should therefore choose wisely among the candidates and vote in those candidates who can deliver.
The announcement of the date for the election at this time of the year therefore, shows IEC's competency to ensure a democratic and transparent elections, as this will help avert last minute rush and indeed, enable the voters to fully prepare for the elections.
Additionally, the timetable for the elections as highlighted by the IEC Chairman is indeed excellent especially the voters education, replacement of lost voters' cards, destroyed or mutilated voters' cards, and the transfer of voting cards.
More importantly, the sensitisation programme for the elections should take off the grounds now without any delay to break the voters' apathy that characterised the two previous elections. To overcome this possible inertia, the IEC should hit the ground right away and all the requisite logistic challenges should be addressed with an open mind and a sense of purpose.
The Department of State for Local Government and the IEC should therefore, sensitise the people on the importance of the elections, more especially on the voter education exercise. This should be taken up seriously by the IEC, while the National Council for Civic Education (NCCE), should spare no time in ensuring that the masses at the grassroots understand the significance of the local government elections.
We should also ensure that the campaign kicks-off and ends peacefully like the previous elections.
Therefore, it will be vital, if the IEC approach the local government elections with the same vigour and integrity as they manifested in the last Presidential and National Assembly elections.
Author: Daily Observer