Voter Registration Sensitization Campaign

On Monday June 7th 2021, a voter registration sensitization campaign was delivered by the leadership team of Coaches United Nations Simulation (CUNS) – a flagship program within Coaches of Influence Foundation (COIF).  The event was focused on raising awareness and education on the voter registration purpose and process in The Gambia. 

In his opening remarks, Hon. Samuel Mendy – Secretary General for CUNS emphasized the importance and relevance of the event.  In his words, he shared that “over the years it is believed that many young people do not actively participate in the voting process due to lack of confidence in the leaders of their nations and other related issues. The number, he added, has not been impressive over the years however; he encouraged young people to register and vote, urging them to participate in nation building. “Your voice counts, if you don’t vote you have no voice in this country because your vote is as a result of you demonstrating your patriotism in this country.” 

Hon. Abdou Karim Badjie, Under Secretary-General (USG) for Political Affairs deliberated on the role of young people in shaping the political atmosphere of the Gambia.  He shared that “the role of young people should not be seen as isolated efforts, but rather a continuous struggle far-fetched from the lenses and struggle of our great heroes to end colonialism and defeat of a 22-year-old dictatorship in 2016 to ensure accountability and resist abuse of power”.

“To make a difference”, Hon. Badjie added, “it is essential that our young people engage in political processes – voter registration in particular and to be able to have a say in designing policies that will respond to the specific needs and aspirations of the younger generation”. “Since youths account for 60% of our total population, they must be aware that their inclusion and political participation is not only a fundamental right but equally crucial to building stable and peaceful societies.”

In her presentation, Bernadette Mendy – administrative assistant at COIF stated that the lack of youth participation in politics is a result of lack of youth representation in the political world. “You can only be active and fully participate where you think you belong, where you think you matter, where you think your voice counts and where you think you are represented”. 

Another contributing factor according to Ms. Mendy is lack of training for youths.  “Anything you are not equipped about or have much information about you get fearful to approach. I think our youth are not well educated on the need for them to step up and take leadership roles.” She pointed out.  She further highlighted the consequences the lack of youth participation in politics and leadership has on nation building, urging young people to step up and take up responsibilities, to participate in leadership and politics as they are the present-day influencers of their generation.

Guest speaker, Marr Nyang, Executive Director Gambia Participates, explained at length the voter registration process and the documents required amongst other issues. The fundamental documents required for registration according to Mr. Nyang are a birth certificate, a National Identity Card (ID) or a passport.

The other document, which he said is a bit controversial, is an attestation – issued by a Sefoe or Alkalo (village heads) to attest that you one is a citizen of The Gambia. The IEC, he went on, “has published a document on their website called team movement 2021 voter registration. From May 29th to July 11th the IEC teams, which are approximately 220 teams, will be moving around the country to get everyone registered”.

The Sensitization session ended on a high note with powerful closing remarks by Hon. Caroline Goddard – Deputy Secretary General of CUNS.  She urged the participants to walk away from the session with the nugget of truth shared by the speakers. She added that youth participation in the political process begins with being knowledgeable about the process, participating in the voting process and most importantly, voting for the right reasons and right candidates based on solutions they present, not based on the tribe they represent.

Hon. Goddard rounded up by sharing four take-aways for all youth;

  • Be the change you want to see
  • Choose and position better leaders
  • Make your vote represent your voice and
  • Make the right choice – vote for change

“Go out and register and remember, every vote counts” she concluded.

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