Ansumana Yabou, a civic education officer with the National Council for Civic Education (NCCE), on Sunday November 4th, advised the community of Kulari and Dampha Kunda in the Upper River Region-South, to stay away from party politics and be objective in their contributions to the Constitutional Review Commission (CRC), whose members will soon visit them. Yabou said this is because he does not want them to erode the ideas of the constitutional making process.
"This is not party politics and we are not here for any political campaign, but to sensitise you on the forthcoming Constitutional Review process that will come your way soon. We are here for you to get more understanding and ideas of how drafting a new Constitution for a country works," he said; that if citizens do not come out in their large numbers especially women to participate in the process, it would be a shame for the nation.
"We are not happy with some community members who have not been attending our meetings, because they are satisfied with others attending on their behalf. So let people take this sensitisation meeting seriously because to make or get a new Constitution, is not an easy task," he said. "Prepare yourself from now, because the CR Commissioners will soon arrive in your community," he advised.
Yabou further touched on the health care rights for everyone; that people should think of whether the health care system is improving their work or not; that if the community wants the CRC to look into such issues, they should fully participate because the Constitution is for the whole nation
Dembo Sissoho, a former Councilor of Kulari said the CRC/NCCE sensitization is one of the most important missions to be undertaken in the new dispensation; that citizens should understand that to allow the masses to think and contribute freely towards the making of a new Constitution, has never happened in the Gambia. "Our participation in this project is very important. Even if it has to take you miles to come and contribute by sharing ideas, we must do it to enable us get a new Constitution. Some Laws are good while others are not favorable to the citizens," he said.
According to Sissoho, the absence of most of the women from the meeting, was not their intension; that most of them went to the farms to harvest groundnuts while some were busy cooking; that others deliberately refused to come out because they think their community elders should represent them.
"The turnout is low because some people especially the women, think that the meeting is all about politics. That is why they did not show up," he said. He added: "The Constitution is here for the people. The country's interest should be served first, and the making of a new Constitution is part of national development."
Sissoho concluded by urging his fellow Gambians to appreciate the work of the CRC and to open more ways for the CRC to deliver their message.
Similar speeches were delivered in Dampha Kunda where Yabou again advised the community to change their ways of thinking.
At the Dampha Kunda meeting, the Executive Director of Tumana Agency for Development Muhammed Drammeh, drove all the way from Basse to attend. Drammeh said he cannot wait for the team's arrival in Basse; that the sensitization meeting has great importance, and applauded the CRC/NCCE initiative. The meeting continues to other communities.