This is a statement delivered by Dominic Mendy, the National President for Citizens Alliance at their monthly Press Conference with the media held on 21st May 2021 at the Party Headquarters in Kanifing Estate. During the statement, Mr Mendy focussed on two main issues namely the imminent Voters Registration Exercise and Crime in the Gambia. Mr Mendy piled on the pressure on the Executive by claiming that the “Government will need to take policy-making very seriously for the first time in the history of this country”. Below is the statement from the Citizens Alliance National President.
By Dominic Mendy
Members of the press
Ladies and gentlemen here present, those watching from within The Gambia and overseas,
I welcome you yet again to another CA monthly press conference, in which CA would normally maintain its engagement with the larger society, and specifically address current or potential issues of critical importance to the people of The Gambia. Our party leader Dr. Ismaila Ceesay has travelled outside of the territory, and therefore cannot be here with you as has always been the case. However, CA is an institution, and therefore believes as elaborated in our manifesto in an institutional manner of operation; in which all people are resources to the party and nation, and each one will be available as and when needed to fulfil any party or national interest or imperative in accordance with his/her abilities. In this sense, and because CA is not a one-person institution, I shall conduct this press conference as national president, with the assistance of our Spokeswoman.
Today we shall address two very important contemporary issues: the current worsening and worrisome national security situation, and the voter registration to begin on the 29th of May 2021, as disclosed by the IEC. After this short address, you shall traditionally ask questions not necessarily on only the two issues but anything that is of interest to you.
Let me join all Gambians to pray for divine guidance in how we as a nation shall extricate ourselves from the deteriorating formation process that our children are going through, and the result of which is that many of them, who would have otherwise be most useful in contributing to the development of mother Gambia, have become what we are unaccustomed to as a people. The Gambia is fast becoming a nation in which even during daytime, one would need to be vigilant about your environment. We Gambians have never known this. We have in the past taken our peace and security for granted, since it is only in The Gambia that at night you would find or meet with female tourists walking along unlit roads such as the Herman Mina Road, popularly known as the Senegambia road, without worry of any threat to their lives.
That someone broke into someone else house and left with anything, was big news, even in the urban area. What then has happened that now our own children would at night break into our or their neighbors’ homes, beat them up, and in some cases even murder them, and do away with their properties?
What has happened?
This is a question that The Gambia needs to ask, reflect upon deeply and take steps to resolve. The solution to this is not linear, and will require the participation of all of us. Government will need to take policy making very seriously for the first time in the history of this country. Those responsible for these atrocities are our youths, and our government has a very well-articulated youth policy, and on which cover page is stated “We Cannot Always Create the World for Our Youths, But We Can Create Our Youths for the World” NCIS -Naval Criminal Investigative Service, US TV Drama Series. The question at the moment is, what type of youths are we creating for the world?
This presupposes that our youths are a result of the formation processes our children undergo from birth to ages 15, when they graduate into the youth cohort of 15 – 35. This includes our educational programmes, and social and religious upbringing, all of which together enables proper formation, which seeks to “To establish a holistic and harmonious youth cohort imbued with adequate knowledge and competencies, strong professional ethics, spiritual and moral values; and a level of independence, patriotism and commitment that gives them life options to choose development and progress in alignment with the national vision” – This is the mission statement of the National Youth Policy 2019 – 2028.
Policies such as these if where initiated and evolved/derived by ourselves from real national socioeconomic growth concerns, they should have found their way into national development programming and budgeting, to render at every point in time the destination of the process for forming our youths, and that is “To Empower and Render the Gambian Youth Capable and Willing to Make Well-Informed, Sustainable and Meaningful Life Choices”- The vision statement of the National Youth Policy 2019 – 2028.
Have we therefore rendered the Gambian youth capable and willing to make well-informed, sustainable and meaningful life choices?
This is not supported by the evidence coming from what is happening now.
We Gambians must manage ourselves out of this situation, and render our country once again a peace haven. However, it is worthy to note that in doing that, and having followed the issue with concern, CA thinks that there is need to rely on accurate evidence of the phenomenon and determine the what, why and how to resolve this undesirable situation.
In determining why this is happening, the number and variety of crimes need to be established and if possible, the geographical and age distributions of the crimes and culprits. A lot can be learnt from this, and it can provide an effective basis of establishing why these crimes are taking place and in the increase.
There is need to understand the factors such as the social underlinings to these activities, and the reasons for the seemingly ineffective policing to stop the crimes. It must be recognized that in a situation of over 40% youth unemployment, and the lack of appropriate training and tools for policing in contemporary times, our police have no choice but become like ordinary citizens, bystanders to the phenomenon.
In addition to the need for a formidable formation process for our children through education and the social enlightenment systems, we need to address hopelessness that has been brought about by economic stagnation and lack of meaningful employment.
We need to introspect on some of the following:
- What is happening today does not give us comfort that the youth policy was driven by concern by Gambians when it was evolved, but that it was led by donors to whom this is more of a concern than our own government.
- What is happening now seems to amplify the belief that our government does not understand their own policy and if they do, then they do not have the intention to commit resources into its implementation.
- What is happening now seems to illustrate the fact that our police force is ill trained to contain the sophistication of the crimes and ferocity of the criminals; and
- What is happening now shows that there is need to revisit our economic growth policies, ensure adequate growth and distribution through such as jobs and other socially inclined public investments.
If not properly addressed, our children will be self-raised, and only God knows where they will end up. May God in His infinite mercy help all of us.
Media at CA Press ConferenceFellow Gambians, we must now help ourselves and this means holding government accountable for every insecurity incident that takes place, since it is first and foremost a result of either their ignorance or unwillingness to take appropriate action.
I shall now address the second issue of today’s press conference – voter registration. Fellow Gambians, the time has come to take a critical decision for the next turn of our lives through the empowerment of parties, and giving responsibility to people for being at the helm of governance in our country. What this means is that these people to whom you the people, give this responsibility must be obligated to utilize all the available national resources at their disposal (people and skills, natural gifts such as rain, minerals and etc., and money), to fashion policies, and to structure mechanisms to fund and grow an economy that will be sufficient for everyone to be comfortable. An economy that is sufficient to enable all to feel secured and unwilling to resort to crime to access comfort. This is where security is first rendered in a nation. A country that grows and its wealth fairly distributed is a secure and peaceful country.
Fellow Gambians, this can only be achieved when we as a people take the process of assessing our own brothers and sisters who have volunteered for leadership, and critically voting in those that we know have what it takes in cognitive adequacy and moral and social commitment, to bring about economic growth and its fair distribution.
This is what is going to happen on the 4th of December 2021, and for which reason we have been scheduled to register and qualify ourselves to vote, meaning to make this very important judgment. Therefore registering as a voter is the most important thing for anyone that calls him/herself a patriotic citizen.
Our party leader Dr. Ismaila Ceesay has asked me to appeal if need be to you, to go out and register to vote, so that come 4th December 2021, you will be able to vote and redeem our country. All you need in order to register as a voter is simple. All you need to show includes, a national ID card, a Gambian Passport, An attestation from a chief or alkalo and a Gambian birth certificate.
It is really easy and accessible, and all that remains to be done is, that we must understand that to register and to vote are obligations to us as citizens, and that we must go out there and register as voters. Please let all the youths of this country from Koina to Kartong register. The schedule has been issued by the IEC and CA shall work very hard to make sure that the youths of this country register and vote so that they will ensure for themselves a country of security and peace.
Thank you for your attention