By Saikou Suwareh Jabai
The Chairman of the Brikama Area Council (BAC) has said that the preamble of African Youth Charter recognises the fact that Africa’s greatest resource is its young populace.
Mr. Bakary Saibo Sanneh was speaking at the celebration of the International Youth Day at the Brikama College Campus Friday August 12, 2016 on the theme: ‘The Road To 2030: Eradicating Poverty, Inequity And Achieving ‘’ 1.8 Billion’’ Strong’.
Chairman Sanneh, who was presenting on the topic ‘Enhancing Democratic Youth Representation, Youth Power and Voice in Councils’, noted that the emergence of ideas on proactive governance structures therefore recognises and advocates for inclusion of young people as democratic agents.
“However, the principal argument in Africa Today is that despite significant knowledge of youth representation, they are still marginalized and i want to pursue here to pay a growing tribute to President Jammeh since July 22nd in 1994 spent significant resources in the promotion of youth welfare,” he said.
He cited Kofi Annan, the former Secretary General of the United Nations, who said “Normally when we need to know about something, we go to experts, but we tend to forget that when we want to know about youths and what they feel and what they want that we should talk to them.”
This therefore, he said, can be effectively done through their representatives in formal bodies as youths have a better perspective of the problems that affect them as such they need to be integrated in policy planning, implementation and evaluation for a policy to be a success.
“In order words, youth representation enables youths to become active members of the democratic society,” he noted.
He further noted that one of the reasons why youth are marginalized in African societies is linked to their marital status. In Africa, he said, if a youth is not married he/she is still considered to be irresponsible and furthermore, the life style that the youth leave in the face of economic constraints has made leaders lose confidence in their ability to participate effectively in any decision making process.
Alhagie S. Nyang, the Regional Youth Coordinator West Coast Region, said the celebration is indeed applicable since it seeks to address issues confronting young people saying that concerted efforts should be put together to combat such issues including poverty, drug abuse, teenage pregnancy amongst others.
“Since over 65% of the population is youth, they need to be in the lead in the highest decision making institutions and be represented in order to push for the concerns of the young people,” he said.
He noted that the other issues confronting young people are unemployment, inequity and the marginalization which are all factors disturbing the young people in Africa. He said youth is someone in transition from child-adult and the continents’ useful resource is the young people who need to be given all protection and empowerment by the authorities.
“At this juncture, I must commend the President for putting young people at forefront and he continues to value them as his administration has created a lot of avenues for them to excel,” he said.
Albino F. Gomez, the Regional Youth Chairperson, delivering the welcoming remarks, said joining with stakeholders to commemorate such a great day is vital, adding that the Child-Fund federations and Yep-Africa are all supporting the event as partners worthy to be associated with.
“The event is important because of a reason that on December 17, 1999, in its resolution 54/120, the UN General Assembly endorsed the recommendation made by the World Conference of Ministers Responsible For Youth (Lisbon, 8-12 August 1998) that 12 August be declared International Youth Day in which The Gambia is observing with a grand style,” he noted.
He calls on the young people to take lead roles in their communities towards positive development as well as to engage themselves into activities that are meaningful as they are the agents of change that should only be positive.
Ebrima Jarju, a Child-Fund sponsored child from Dinding Bantaba, delivering the vote of thanks, noted that the day is worth celebration as it is aimed at promoting the welfare of young people and their communities.
The celebration was characterized by match pass under the guidance of the Sanyang Scout Band.