By Yankuba Jallow
In several meetings held by the Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) across the North Bank Region (NBR), people made their views known to members of the CRC that the proposed new Constitution should make provision for the President of the Republic, to be a degree holder. The CRC which is headed by Justice Cherno Sulayman Jallow, visited Sara Kunda and Ngayen Sanjal villages on day eight of their tour in the North Bank Region.
At the Sara Kunda meeting Buba Sima contributed by asking how one can be an effective and efficient president when one does not understand issues; that a president should be a degree holder. ‘‘We have a University which has now produced thousands of students. They should be empowered to lead,” Buba Sima told the gathering.
Bakary Saidy another contributor from Kani Kunda Subakoto, asked how one can lead a country with people who are more educated than the leader himself. Saidy told members of the CRC that the proposed new Constitution should make provision for anybody vying for president, to be well educated up to University level, with a degree. Many others told members of the CRC that the proposed new Constitution should make provision for political parties to disclose their source of funding; that political parties should disclose their source of funding and issue financial statements to the IEC. This was a contribution made by Abdul Aziz Kah, a teacher. In Salikenni, Sara Kunda, Njayen Sanjal and Illiassa communities, people raised their hands in support of the idea for political parties to disclose their source of funding.
Kebba Sabally of Sara Kunda opined that the cost of the country’s national identity document (ID Card), should be addressed by the new Constitution. “We are citizens and we have rights to get our national identity document with ease. The cost of the national identity card should be addressed as it is expensive,” said Sabally.
Momodou Darboe of the Department of Livestock Services in Kerewan, opined that the new Constitution should make provision for an Agricultural Commission. “The Agricultural Commission will be responsible for improving the agricultural sector. The sector really requires a revival. Farmers do not have good markets to sell their products. Our livestock get sick and there are no available medicines to cure them,” he said. Many suggested that the new Constitution should make provision to support farmers in terms of protection from thiefs and stray animals.
The people of Sarra Kunda opined that Ministers should be scrutinized before being selected by members of the National Assembly; that the new Constitution should make provision for a fix number of Ministries to avoid future presidents creating ones.
The people of Sarra Kunda and Salikenni contributed and agreed in unison that the proposed new Constitution should make provision for prisoners to vote. “Prisoners should be allowed to vote because imprisonment is a means of correcting their previous deeds but they will remain citizens of the country. Every citizen is eligible to vote,” said Saku Camara, of Sarra Kunda. “The prisoners have fundamental human rights that must be protected. They have a right to vote,” said Sulayman Colley of Sarra Kunda; that the proposed new Constitution should make provision for a fix date for presidential elections.
On the death penalty, the people unanimously agreed in their contributions that this should be maintained in the Constitution.
“We want death penalty to be maintained in the Gambia,” the people Sara Kunda agreed in a popular vote by raising their hands in unison.
Further meetings will continue in the rest of the villages in the Region.