Here are the 12 Select Committees of the National Assembly including the National Assembly Authority which is composed of the Speaker, Deputy Speaker, Majority and Minority leaders.
- National Assembly Authority
- Public Accounts / Public Enterprises Committees
- Agriculture, Rural Development, Environment, Sustainable Development & NGO Affairs
- Appointments, Standing Orders, Privileges & Ethics
- Defence & Security
- Education, Training & ICT
- Foreign Affairs
- Health, Women, Children, Refugee, Disaster & Humanitarian Relief
- Monitor The Implementation of Government Projects
- Tourism, Acts, Culture, Youth and Sports
- Trade, NEPAD, Regional Integration, WTO, WB, LDC & ACP-EU Matters
- Local Government & Lands, Ombudsman & IEC
The purpose of these committees is to strengthen the oversight and investigative function of the parliament. They focus on specific issues by receiving reports, conducting fact-finding missions or holding public hearings as part of investigation into issues of the country. These committees have their rules and procedures of operation.
National Assembly Select Committees therefore make the National Assembly function better and stronger in monitoring of public institutions and officials to make sure that they are transparent, efficient, accountable and responsive to the needs of the people. In this way the parliament makes public institutions deliver quality public goods and services to the entire people all the time.
These public goods and services include healthcare hence making sure our health workers and public health facilities are performing their duties adequately. They also ensure that our teachers and schools are also giving quality education as well as making sure that our police officers or prison officers or managing directors or permanent secretaries and indeed all public servants in our pubic institutions are all doing their jobs properly. They also monitor the private sector and the civil society.
In this way, the National Assembly therefore makes sure human rights are respected and protected which means the rule of law is adhered to by all which means corruption is curtailed which means good governance prevails hence improving democracy in our society. This is why the National Assembly is the most important and most powerful institution in the Gambia.
But for the National Assembly to make democracy work, it means citizens like you and me must also be active, vigilant and patriotic so that we follow them. We must know how the parliament works and what their powers are and what structures they have and which processes exist in the parliament.
Politicians or the government do not deliver democracy. Politicians always want to keep power and control the people. Look at Donald Trump right now in the United States. Remember Yaya Jammeh in the Gambia and his accomplices. Therefore only the Almighty Citizens produce and protect democracy and make it work for all. This is what history has shown everywhere in the world. When Trump wants to trample on democracy in the US it was public servants like Sally Yates, Preet Bharara, James Comey and many judges as well as the millions of American citizens who rise up to stop him. The examples are in our own history.
We have democracy today because first and foremost our forefather Edward Francis Small stood up against the British Colonialists. Since then many more of our forefathers joined the fight for democracy such as Dawda Jawara, IM Garba Jahumpa, PS Njie and Rev. JC Faye among many others. They were also joined by many chiefs and alkalolu and indeed ordinary men, women and youth in our villages and towns as well as our Gallant Mothers to fight for freedom until we gained independence.
During the APRC Tyranny, we have also seen how many ordinary citizens stood up against the government to ensure democracy prevails in our country. People like Deyda Hydara or the students or Solo Sandeng among many were tortured, jailed, maimed and killed because of their stand for democracy and human rights. One can see therefore it is only the people who bring democracy and protect it, but never politicians or the government.
Therefore let us start to follow and pressure our National Assembly to make sure democracy works in the Gambia. Only democracy can produce quality education and healthcare, good roads, uninterrupted electricity supply, good salaries and good roads, peace, justice and stability.
Therefore, ask your National Assembly Member to which committee he or she belongs and who are the other members and the Chairperson of the Committee. Let us demand the telephone numbers of these people so that we can call them. Let us know their offices and the time they are available to the public so that we can visit them to tell them our piece of mind. Let us write letters to them about our issues and concerns. Let us protest in front of the parliament to let them know we mean business.
STAND UP FOR DEMOCRACY IN THE GAMBIA. TODAY!
God Bless the Gambia.
By Madi Jorbateh