By Kebba Jeffang
The National Youth Council (NYC), a youth organisation that coordinates the activities youth organisations in the Gambia on Wednesday, 10th September, 2015 inaugurated the new council members including the Chairman of the Council at a ceremony held at President’s International Award in Bakau.
Speaking at the inauguration, Mr. Fabakary Kalleh, outgoing Chairman, NYC, highlighted numerous developments that the council went through during their four year term in office as chairperson of the council.
He said during his tenure in office they have tried to improve the financial image of the council, because at the time they came to office they found that for 10 years the council was never audited. “We also regained our Implementing Partner status from the UN system and built the structure of the council. All these cannot be achieved in the absence of the secretariat. We were able to make the council visible and rebuild the confidence of the people into the council,” said Kalleh after serving two terms of 4 years.
Mr. Kalleh pin pointed their lack of securing landed property for the council and retention of some of the council’s staff because of the lack of motivation as major challenges that they need to overcome.
Ibrahim Ceesay, incoming chairman, NYC said there is no way the country can develop without the involvement of young people and as young people they should work together for the development of the country.
He said NYC needs to be responsive to the issues of youth employment, quality education and comprehensive healthcare system and indicated to make that part of his agendas.
“This is because without these three young people cannot contribute to the development of the country effectively. We also want to have an all-inclusive council and invest in programmes that will impact into the lives of all young people in the country,” he said.
Mr. Ceesay further pointed out that they will also try and build partnership with institutions in and outside the country, adding that all these cannot be done without resource mobilization which is very important to achieving their goals.
He appealed to the young people to work hand in glove with the council to make it one of the best institutions for youth empowerment and development.
Mr. Abdou Touray, Program Specialist, United Nations Development Programs (UNDP) said the youth constitute 64 percent of the nation’s population and that the development of the country depends on them.
“The development of a country depends on the quality of its young people, the more we invest on them the better for the country, and they have the fullest potential to stage the development of the country,” he said.
Mr. Alieu K Jammeh, Minister of Youth and Sports urged the Council to take a lead role in making sure that strategies are outlined in order to continue with faster development.
He said the Government of The Gambia continues to provide opportunities for young people to develop and excel at home without the need to migrate to the west. He added that the ministry as a whole is undergoing great transformation to better serve the people of the Gambia.
“The Council as part of the ministry is equally following the same trend. The position of Executive Secretary has been elevated to Executive Director. A new Youth Bill supported by UNDP has been drafted with greater responsibilities for Council,” he stated.
The youth minister however frowned at the current reality of youth who are inspired to use the perilous journey to Europe in search of greener pastures. He said the current migration by all means and through any route of Gambian young people cannot continue unchecked.
“If the trend persists it has the possibility of negatively affecting the already existing development gains and future prospects of development,” he said.
According to Minister Jammeh, the National Youth Policy 2009- 2018 is also undergoing a mid-term review with funding from UNESCO to establish its level of implementation, achievements, and shortcomings and make possible recommendations.
He added that this will help inform an updated policy to address the current needs of young people. The policy will inform further intervention to address the needs and aspiration of young people.