Officials from the National Council for Civic Education (NCCE) recently conducted series of mass sensitisation forums on “Political Participation and Voter Education” attracting 20 communities across the Lower River Region (LRR).
Speaking at the various sensitisation meetings, the Senior Civic Education Officer at NCCE, Junkung K. Saidy informed the communities that voting is an important component in the democratic process of any country.
According to him, in The Gambia low voter turnout is an issue as manifested in the past presidential elections. He stated that statistics revealed that the overall voter turnout in the past presidential elections is as follows: 1996 (88.4%), 2001 (90%), 2006 (50%), and 2011 (82.6%) respectively. “The voter apathy was due to a combination of factors such as misconception among the general public on the importance of elections and voting not perceived as a civic duty by the citizenry,” He said.
Saidy, therefore, urged the LRR communities to understand that all elections are equally important as different political offices have different functions.
The voter turnout, he went on is key to measure the credibility of elections, thus urging communities in the area to fully exercise their civic duties by coming out in their numbers to cast their votes to the candidate of their choice in all the elections.
According to him, to increase voter turnout, citizens need to see the importance in voting and place it over other social commitments, saying electorates in the country attach more importance to the presidential elections than other elections.
The Civic Education Officer at NCCE, Kebba Jobe also expressed similar sentiments. He informed the LRR communities about the importance of voting which he said is at their own advantage. He maintained that voting is an important exercise as it creates a sense of responsibility in the leaders and make them realise that they are chosen among other candidates by electorates to perform well.
The communities that benefited from the sensitisation forum in LRR includes: Sukuta, Njoba Kunda, Barrow Kunda, Jassong all in Jarra East District; Buiba Mandinka, Sare Jama and Hamdalie Sare Omar in Jarra Central District; Sare Saidy, Karantaba, Jiffin in Jarra West District; Kaif, Massembeh and Njolfen in Kiang East District; Jirrof, Bambako and Bumar in Kiang Central District; Kantong Kunda, Jali, Kuli Kunda and Sankandi all in the Kiang West District.
by Lamin B. Darboe