Thursday, May 16, 2013

Civic education council capacitises ward councillors on Local Gov’t Act

The National Council for Civic Education (NCCE) on Thursday completed a two-day training for the newly elected ward councillors of the Brikama Area Council on the amended Local Government Act 2002 and Human Rights.

This training was held to enhance the capacities of councillors on their roles and functions as defined in the Local Government Act. 
It further strengthened the councillors’ understanding of human rights and human rights-based approach to development, thus increase their accountability to the people.

Ward councilors of the Brikama Area Council
Speaking on the occasion, Isatou Bittaye, programme officer of the NCCE, said the training is important in that good public governance helps to strengthen democracy and human rights, promote economic prosperity and social cohesion. 

The training would lead to the achievement of the objectives of decentralization in The Gambia, she said. 

The country’s decentralization has generally been considered to be a positive step towards making Local Governments more accountable to the poor by moving decision-making as close to the scene of action as possible.
The aim of the decentralization is to redistribute power, responsibility and resources to the local level.  It also redefined the division of labour and responsibilities between the central and the local governments. 

Enormous task ahead
For the acting-chairman of the NCCE, Alhaji Modou Joof, the tasks ahead of the newly elected councillors are enormous and expectations are very high. 

He noted that challenges and opportunities are evident but with self-reliant, faith and patriotism there will be light at the end of the tunnel. 
He told the ward councillors that with dedication, determination and hard work they will triumph against all odds and detractors.

Take risks
Mr Joof also told the councillors that they should not be afraid to take risks or being criticized.

“If you do not want to be criticised do not say anything, do anything or be anything,” he said.  “Do not be afraid of failing.  It is through failure you learn to do things right.” 

Take the lead
He also encouraged the councillors to take the lead and lead with example in whatever they are doing.  “Do not wait for everybody before you get to do something.  Take the lead and your people will follow you,” he said. 

Lamin Nyangado, head of policy and advocacy at Action Aid The Gambia, said the councillors have huge responsibility in the country and should sacrifice for the people they are representing.
He noted that councillor work is challenging but not insurmountable. 

Governor of the West Coast Region, Lamin Sanneh, challenged the councillors to make sure development reaches the people, the electorate. 
He told the councillors to filter down the knowledge they gained from the training on their various wards.

He said in any region where the masses aware of their economic, social and civic rights, development will take place faster in that region.

He urged them to take care of the needs of the every member of the society and involve everybody in the development of the region.  “Do not underrate anybody in the society.  The people you look down upon can also contribute in some way,” he said.
Brikama Area Council Chairman Bakary Saibo Sanneh said every nation survives on the people and the people survive based on respect for each other but now people survive based on programmes and policies. 

“Therefore, we thank the NCCE for coming to sensitise us, the councillors, to know the law and various policies and programmes of the country,” he said. 
The training of the ward councillors is funded by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) as part of the approved work plan for 2013 to support awareness-raising through effective communication and advocacy interventions on electoral rights, civic education and human rights at all levels. 

The training is conducted by the NCCE in collaboration with Action Aid The Gambia.  Already the ward councillors in the Kanifing Municipal Council and the Banjul City Council have been trained. 
From Brikama the trainers are proceeding to other regions in the country. 


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