By Mustapha Jallow

Ansumana Yabou, civic education officer at the National Council for Civic Education (NCCE) has urged the community of Kaiaf, Kiang West to avoid using abusive words on social media as it would destroy the moral fruits of the country.

He made this remark during NCCE’s second phase of an ongoing campaign on a dialogue aimed at enhancing understanding of democratic governance, civic rights, freedom and duty as well as promoting tolerance, reconciliation and peaceful coexistence in the country.

“The increasing use of abusive words in ‘WhatsApp forums’ is destroying our nation and dividing people,’’ he remarked.

He further urged the community, especially young people to avoid negative attitudes on their smart phones and focus on building their communities. He added that if this issue of abusive words and insults is not addressed in their communities, it will give the country a bad image.

“We should know our responsibility as citizens and the role each has to play in order to build a strong democracy. For our nation to develop, every citizen must be self-disciplined in these forums. Also, we must be ready to hold our elected leaders accountable,’’ he said.  

“Politics doesn’t tell you to use nasty words and insult in ‘WhatsApp’. Therefore, restrain yourself from such acts,’’ he added.

NCCE civic educator advised the community to stay peaceful and live in harmony; adding that they should avoid political division among themselves.

For his part, Yusupha Bojang, a senior Programme Officer of NCCE told villagers “we are coming from two decades of dictatorial rule characterised by bad governance and abuse of human rights,” adding  “it is evident that establishing and sustaining democratic rule could be quite challenging as we are currently experiencing in the country.”

“Gambians should remember that democracy is rooted in the principle of equality, thus it is the duty of every citizen to recognize each other’s sovereignty and live together as brothers and sisters,’’ he said.

According to Bojang, there is a huge deficit in the understanding of democracy among the citizens thus resulting to lots of misconceptions, abuses, mistrust, intolerance and division along political and tribal lines.

“The use of force, intimidation, slander and provocation in this country are threats to our young democracy and citizens are encouraged to desist from such undemocratic acts,’’ he told the community.’’.

Bojang added, “As responsible citizens, we should remember that the exercise and enjoyment of rights and freedoms are inseparable from the performance of duties and obligations. Therefore, I would like to encourage all of us to learn to tolerate, respect others and build bridges across our differences to pursue the common good.’’

Similar messages on democracy were made by Junkung Saidy and Kebba O. Jobe both of whom are civic education officers of NCCE. 

Yaya Jeesey, a native of Kaiaf asked the civic educators whether when a national assembly member was voted in parliament and not fulfilling promises to his constituency, the law has empowered them remove that person or not.

Musa Gassama, Momodou Fatty both natives of Kaiaf and Saidou Sey, a native of Madina Angalleh said citizens should understand how a democratic country works and respect the differences among political parties

This national dialogue campaign was supported by ECOWAS for the NCCE to embark on a massive nationwide sensitization to ensure that citizens, especially in the rural areas are enlightened on the tenets of democracy and good governance.

These meetings were hosted on 3 – 4 October 2019, in the communities of Kiang East, Kiang Central and Kiang West in Lower River Region.

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