By Rev.Gibrilla Kargbo
The National Commission for Democracy (NCD) was on Wednesday, June 11 hosted by the Parliamentary Oversight Committee on Political and Presidential Affairs in Committee Room 3 of the House of Parliament at Tower Hill. The meeting, which was well attended on both sides, was the culmination of a process that commenced with NCD presenting a status report for 2013 and supporting policy documents as requested by the Committee headed by Hon. Patrick Lahai M. Kargbo. The meeting that commenced at 1:20pm saw the introduction of members of the Committee and the Chairman, Commissioners and staff of NCD followed by silent prayers and the articulation of the purpose of the meeting as an attempt to strengthen ties between the Parliament and NCD.
During his submission to the Committee, the NCD Chairman, Dr. Abubakar H. Kargbo, thanked members of the Committee for the opportunity and expressed his sincere delight in having the meeting at a time when NCD is about celebrating its 20th anniversary since its inception in 1994. He then told the Committee about the many storms that have been weathered in a bid to carry out its mandate with commendable outcomes.
Furthermore, he commended parliament for acknowledging the effort of NCD and creating the enabling environment for the Commission to carry out its mandate even as it is a statutory body enacted by Parliament. He spoke about the state of education in the country with the concomitant effect or impact on the level of good governance, thus making the work of NCD very paramount to the very existence of the State.
Even amidst resource constraints and shortfall in budgetary allocation, the NCD Chairman called for the support of Parliament by way of helping the Commission to gravitate to higher heights in carrying out its mandate of promoting democratic good governance. He spoke about the need for a radio station to further promote the mandate of NCD even as the people should be educated on the mechanics of politics and the pre-eminence of governance issues. He emphasized the need to develop peace on the minds of the people in order to build peace in the nation.
In concluding his submission, the NCD Chairman called on Parliament to provide the necessary support and platform for the return of civic education to learning institutions, a deficit that has adversely impacted the work of politicians and civic responsibility.
In his response, the Chairman for the session, Hon. Frank Kposowa, commended the effort expended by NCD in carrying out its activities in the length and breadth of the country amidst resource constraints. He then lamented on the realization that Members of Parliament are victims of wrong perception with the lot falling on NCD to educate the general populace towards a change of such perception, thus making the work of the Commission both difficult and interesting.
He also called on NCD to make the issues of Members of Parliament a top priority in their civic education drive by way of stemming the deliberate character assassination drive that is rife in the country. He expressed displeasure over the fact that most of the time, those who asked the questions are the ones providing the answers, thus becoming both referees and players. He did not mince words in supporting the move of NCD to champion the re-introduction of civic education to learning institutions, a move he said should be replicated in the length and breadth of the nation as civic education is a must for good citizenship with the need for change as a key focus in such an enterprise.
Referring to the mandate of the NCD as a springboard for his contribution, the NCD Commissioner North, Bai John Conteh, spoke about the need for the Commission to be dynamic in carrying out its mandate since the constitution, the key focus of NCD, is a dynamic document. He noted that NCD’s mandate should not be seen as revolving around election, but should be seen as more comprehensive and contributing significantly to enhancing the work of NEC and PPRC.
Even as groundwork is underway in returning civic education to learning institutions, Mr. Conteh requested that the Committee facilitate a workshop with the entire membership of Parliament whilst highlighting the support NCD has received from UNIPSIL and UNDP in the promotion of its mandate.
Both Hon. Patrick L.M. Kargbo and Hon. Leonard S. Fofanah supported the need for a workshop with the entire House of Parliament, despite the financial implications, with NCD presenting a draft bill for the review of its present Act that is considered by many as being obsolete. Additional contributions from other members of the Committee commended the effort and sacrificial work of NCD with pledge to support its activities and suggestions to better its performance even as effective communication is established with Parliament.
The session was concluded with a vote of thanks delivered by Rev. Gibrilla Kargbo, NCD Communications and Public Relations Manager, with emphasis on the need for continued collaboration between both institutions in the furtherance of democratic good governance.