Hon. Ousman Sillah

By Awa B. Bah

The National Assembly Member for Banjul North Ousman Sillah, has engaged the Minister of Youth and Sport on the status of migrant returnees during the oral questions and answer session. In a bitter debate, the Member for Banjul North asked the Minister as to the plans his Ministry has for these desperate young people, since they are entitled to the rights and responsibilities of life. Sillah in his intervention demanded that the Minister update them on the deportation of young Gambians from abroad and how his Ministry intends to provide them with assistance to live productively in order to prevent them from being alienated.

Henry Gomez in his response to the Deputy from Banjul North said the status of the young returnees is a national concern and it is their collective responsibility to reassure them a brighter future; that his Ministry continues to solicit the necessary resources from development partners, to compliment Government efforts to support this community through the provision of marketable and livelihood skills.

In a supplementary question, Sillah asked the Minister to highlight details of the marketable skills for young deportees because the Minister earlier said his Ministry does not confined itself to short term courses; that marketable livelihood skills are within short term bases and called on the Minister to note that the young deportees are lost and desperate and need urgent consideration from all sectors. Sillah said most of these young deportees do not have the qualification to undergo or access entry into our local forces. He urged the Minister to consider placing these young deportees under short term courses and skills. Sillah said that there are curriculums that exist within the greater Banjul area under NAQAA and that these courses lasts for three to six months; that this will enable the young deportees to acquire livelihood skills to enable them engage productively, to live independently.

The Minister in his response questioned how to engage these young deportees as most of them cannot read and write; that Gambians should not act desperately; that if the Ministry is to do thing for young people, they should do it to benefit them in the long term. Gomez said his Ministry is ready to place the young deportees in the right direction; that this Government inherited a fragile state and has a long way to go especially with issues surrounding the welfare of young people; that the commitment of the new Government in the areas of youth and sport, entails the review and evaluation of the current structure and to assess their operations to effect changes where necessary, to contribute to the aspirations of young people. This he revealed will be implemented by the Youth Ministry.

Consultations Underway for Gambia Senior National Football Team

In the same vein, the Minister informed deputies of his Ministry’s plans to upgrade sport in the country. The Minister made this and other statements on the way forward to improve grassroots sports and the country’s performance in international competitions, by paying strong attention to football. On the country’s poor performance in international competitions, the Minister disagreed and called for thorough review of the situation. He announced that there are plans to stage a national sports conference later this year, to look at problems affecting the country’s sporting activities and performance and trace possible interventions, particularly for the coaching of staff; that there are consultations through technical cooperation agreements, to source out for highly qualified and recommended coaches for the senior national football team.

The Minister said the commitment of the new Government in the areas of youth and sport, entails the review of the current structure and evaluation of operations. This he revealed will be implemented by his Ministry.

‘‘To improve on grassroots sports and better participate and perform in international competitions, there is the need for strong partnership between my Ministry and that of Education, in promoting School sport. Regional sport committees must be further strengthened and proactive in promoting different sporting activities within their areas, in collaboration with national associations,’’ the Minister said.

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