By: Kebba AF Touray
The Chairperson of the Association of Non-Governmental Organization (TANGO), Mr John Charles Njie, has told members of the sixth legislature that Civil Society Organizations are not enemies to them. Mr. Njie said this on Wednesday, 18th January 2023, while delivering a statement at the official opening of the just concluded two-day capacity building training organised for lawmakers by the International Republican Institute (IRI), in partnership with the Office of the Clerk of the Assembly and the US Embassy in the Gambia.
“We are definitely not your enemies because some members from the CSO have joined the National Assembly and indeed some members of the National Assembly have also joined the CSO. So, we are one and there is a lot that we can do together,” he told lawmakers.
He said that TANGO and the Civil Society of the Gambia continue to play a key role in complementing government efforts to ensure that the country’s democracy is strengthened and capacities built for public officers.
“We are partners in development. It is disheartening that sometimes we are seen to be critics of the government or opposition members or ponds of western bodies. We must continue to task and remind ourselves that members of the Civil Society are equally Gambians and have no reason and cause to be against the progress of the Gambia,” he said.
He said that the calls of the CSOs on the public officials are to improve performance and development, and that the capacity building training brings more support to the lawmakers while reiterating the need for the legislature to continue to open its doors to the CSOs to be their advocates and support systems.
The capacity building training for the lawmakers, he averred, does not connotes that the lawmakers do not have the capacity, but rather to continue building on their skills and expertise.
“Through this and all ongoing capacity building and enhancement, the National Assembly hopes to ensure a more robust national assembly. With the coming into force of an autonomous National Assembly, the expectations of the Gambians are very high”, he told lawmakers.
He told the legislators that the country looks up to them for representation, noting that lawmakers should ensure that there are enough checks and balances and legal reforms in the country’s system.
“There is a lot on your shoulders. We the people of the Gambia look up to you to ensure that you execute your duties without fear or favour, affection or ill will,” Njie said.
He further implores lawmakers to express their opinions with vibrancy, but noted that lawmakers’ actions and deliberations must be guided by public interest.
“I keep saying that it is not wrong for parliamentarians to disagree with one another. What I think they did wrong was failing to agree to consider and move the constitution bill forward. We appeal to you that when the draft constitution comes again before you, express your opinions, disagree, but at the end of the day, try and reach a common ground for the greater good of the Gambia. We need a new constitution to push the agenda of the New Gambia forward,” he challenged lawmakers.