Foroyaa Reporter Engages Gambian Youths As They Planned To Demonstrate On July 29th

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Dear Gambian Youths,

There is no doubt people wouldn’t have planned a protest if some of the leaders of the National Youth Council were not removed from their position. We should take notice of the fact that when these people were serving they have never pushed for the amendment of the NYC Act.

The planned protest on the 29th of July is undoubtedly about personalities. If you disagree with me please tell Gambians why protesting now after some Council members were removed. You protest because you are dissatisfied and please tell Gambians what are you not happy with?

The struggle should be on how to change a system. We should stop protesting about personalities. The struggle/fight should be to change the system. Politics of personalities have consumed us so much so that we don’t prioritise issues. Let us discuss issues than personalities.

Any change we (the youth) desire will surely happen unless we don’t know how to go about it. Let us ask ourselves questions before embarking on a protest. Is it reinstatement of a personality or the change of a system? If it is the change of the system then the street cannot give us that. Protesting is certainly not the best mechanism to change a system. People should begin discussing ideas as to the type of youth council we want so that it serves our interest.

What powers have we in our own Council (NYC)? The Act gives the President excessive power while it does not recognise ours. I stand to be challenged by anyone who disagrees with me that the National Youth Council (NYC) Act does recognise/give the youth any power in our own Council.

We should all understand that the President is the appointing authority in consultation with the Public Service Commission (PSC) as per the NYC Act. The Act furthers states the President ‘may’ renew appointments for subsequent terms (years). It does not put anywhere that the youths should be consulted. Where is our voice? Where is our power in our own Council?

Can protest give us this? Can the laws governing the Council be changed (amended) by taking the street? What are the best resorts? We need to discuss so that any decision we make will be in our general interest and will take us to our desired destination.
People should understand that the Act puts the President and or the Minister of Youth central in the administration of the Act particularly in terms of appointment and removal of Council members.

I want to submit that our fight/struggle should not be protesting. We need to come up with ideas to ginger the reform of the Act. This is our Act and we need to trim the powers of the President and or the Minister of Youth so that our voice is our power.

For 20 years we have the same Act which does not necessarily tackle youth problems. At this juncture, I wish to point out that we cannot rely on the Act to compel the Executive to change their decision and we cannot make strong demands relying on the Act. Our powers are trimmed such that we don’t have a say in our own Council.

There is a planned demonstration to be held on the 29th July 2020 with respect to the (purported) appointment of a new Executive Director of the National Youth Council. It is the argument of the organisers of the protest that the person appointed is over 35 and therefore, does not fall within the age bracket of the youth folk. Others are demanding for the reinstatement of Mr Lamin Darboe who was removed and was asked to hand over his duties to a particular person identified.

It is our fundamental human right to protest peacefully without arms. I am not against protesting but my take on this one is that we should think of other resorts than taking the street.

What do you aim to achieve after the protest? I want to submit that the NYC Act should be reviewed and amended to reflect the current realities. A document that has been here 20 years ago needs to be reviewed.

People should understand that the NYC Act does not adequately represent the youths. In fact, the Minister of Youth is responsible for the administration of the NYC Act.

Do you know what administration means in English? Britannica Insights explain ‘Administration’ to mean three things; (1) performance of executive duties: management (2) the act or process of administering something and (3) the execution of public affairs as distinguished from policy-making. If you check other dictionaries you will find the same or similar definitions.  So tell me if you know, who should administer the Act? Is it the President and or the Minister of Youth or the Council on behalf of the youth.

The Act is simple to explain and I shall proceed to explain in a few paragraphs for people to understand.

The Act established a National Youth Council responsible for the co-ordination of youth policies, programmes and for connected matters.

On the composition of the Council, it is headed by a Chairperson (appointed), elected chairpersons of the regional youth committees, the Director of Youth and Sports (appointed), a female (appointed) and the Executive Secretary/Director (appointed). In short, you will realise that only the elected chairpersons of the regions are the elected positions while all others are appointment positions.

The Act provides that the President may require a member to vacate his or her office if the President is satisfied that the member has failed to comply with the conditions of his or her office fixed by the President.

In short, everything about the administration of the Act is by the President and or the Minister.

As I write to you, I enjoin you all to put our effort to push for the review and amendment of the National Youth Council. Those who headed the Council have never prioritised the amendment of the Act and they, in turn, became victims of the same law they were protecting. People must not allow ourselves to be deceived.

Therefore, those planning to protest should have a rethink. No youth should allow himself or herself to be used as a material or tool for frequent protests. We have better and effective resorts than protesting. We cannot change our laws in the street.

If you are going out to express disappointment in the Government regarding its recent actions regarding the dismissal of some Council members that is your case but if we are really serious with our advocacy then we should push for the amendment of the Act so that we have our say in our own Council. Laws are what they are and not what they ought to be. What they are is a  matter of fact and what they ought to be is a matter of opinion. Let us review the Act and discuss as young people so that the Council will serve our purpose.

I enjoin all Gambia youth to begin brainstorming ideas as to the type of Council we want so that it serves our interest. Our number is high so if we all speak in one voice we will be able to achieve what we want. I want to submit that people should protest only where necessary. We can make the Government do what we want but only if we are united.

Yankuba Jallow,
Please stay balanced.

Source:  Yankuba Jallow’s Facebook page.

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