The new info minister shares government plans with the media, calling for cardinal gov’t-media relations

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Dr. Imaila Ceesay, Minister of Information

By Fatou Dahaba

On Wednesday, the new Information Minister, Dr. Ismaila Ceesay, met with the press and called for a cordial relationship between the media and the government while launching his ministry’s social media handles and website to ease communication between the government of The Gambia and the public.

In his first press conference, Dr. Ceesay said his meeting with the press would open a new chapter between the government and the media.

“We don’t want to have any barriers with the media; instead, we want to work closely for public interest.”

He reiterated that they want to ensure there’s no longer a vacuum regarding information. “When there is a vacuum, it can precipitate instances where misinformation and disinformation are disseminated, which is not good for anyone and has led to crises and war in other countries so that we will give you information in the public interest to the best of our ability.”

The new Information Minister said there will be a press conference every two weeks to inform people through the media about government activities, priorities, and projects.

“We want to have a proactive approach to information dissemination, not only proactive but two-way approaches, that they are not only getting information from government to the people but also doing a series of consultation meetings, outreach, and town hall programs.”

“I know sometimes it is a challenge to get information from some ministries, but see us as partners; when you need information, channel it through the ministry of information, and we will do as much as possible to engage the technical ministries to get you that information.”

He added that they will engage young people and the diaspora through X, formerly Twitter and Facebook Live, to listen to people and respond to their needs.

“We want people to tell us what they’re feeling, thinking, or their priorities are so that we can set our policy and priorities to be responsive to the people, which is called input and output of the government.”

Yankuba Saidy, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Information, said engagement with the media is part of their significant efforts to shift how government relates to the people.

He said the climate of fear that used to exist will never exist again because openness and transparency will now take over most people’s fears and apprehensions.

He further states that the social media handles and website launches are to go back to the people, give them access to information of public interest, and do so proactively.

“As a ministry, they’re putting their house together to signal to the Gambian people that they are ready to be open and transparent, build on the democratic credentials of the country, and also support the flow of information.”

When asked about the government’s plan to provide subvention to the media, he said they’re working on a legal instrument allowing the ministry to implement a scheme.

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