Readers could recall that in July 2006, the Summit of Heads of State and Government adopted the African Youth Charter at their Summit in Banjul, The Gambia. They underscored the importance of youth participation and involvement in the development of Africa.

 

Besides, The Gambia as the host and a signatory to the African Youth Charter should lead by example through empowering her youth by occupying the leadership space. As it will pave the way for the development of national programmes and strategic plans for a better Gambia we all want to see.

 

On Monday, 9th July President Adama Barrow presided over the swearing ceremony of new Vice-President Ousainou Darboe along with eight ministers at State House in Banjul. Surprisingly enough, there was no Youth among the list including the Youth Minister who is above the Youth age bracket.

 

Of recent, we have seen how the young people of this country been ignored as none of the political parties nominate a youth as its flag bearer. The Constitution which is also the supreme book of the land discriminated the youth as it is categorically stated on Section 62(1) B of the 1997 Constitution.

 

Besides, the Ministry of Youth and Sports which aim is to ensure that investment in youth and sports take place across sectors and in all policies and programmes is headed by a person who is not a youth. Lamin Darbo, Executive Director of the National Youth Council once said ‘‘anything for the youth without the youth is not for the youth’’. The Gambia youth has all it takes to preside over the affairs of the State beyond imagination in the 21st Century; it is a tragedy for a pensioner to run the affairs of the Youth.

 

The African Union Assembly decision in January 2016 established the theme for 2017 as ‘’Harnessing the Demographic Dividend Through Investments In Youth”. AU heads of states and governments recognize a country level demographic dividend as a central to continent’s economic transformation in the context of AU Agenda 2063.

 

The last time I checked, Gambia’s regeneration cannot be realized if adequate investment is not made in the youth who constitute about 60 per cent of the total population. The African Union Constitutive Act and the African Union Commission strategic plan 2004-2007 give due priority to youth development and empowerment as the youth are the solution to Africa problem.

 

Furthermore, Article 11 (C) of the African Youth Charter stated that ‘‘Ensure equal access to the young man and young women to participate in decision-making and in fulfilling civic duties ’’. Therefore The Gambia will not develop until and unless the Youth are given the opportunity to take part in the development process of the State.

 

Saidina Alieu Jarjou

Political Activist