#Article (Archive)

2019 NAYCONF postponed over fear of ‘3-years Jotna protest’

Oct 25, 2019, 12:35 PM | Article By: Momodou Jawo

Tuesday 22 October 2019 Issue

Gambia government, through its line Ministry of Youth and Sport (MoYS) has written to the National Youth Council (NYC) asking them to postpone the 2019 biennial National Youth Conference and Festival (NAYCONF) over fear of a planned protest by the Operation 3-years Jotna movement in December.

The biennial event brings together the country’s young people to discuss issues affecting their lives and their role in national development. The event that gathers about two thousand young people across the country is supposed to be hosted in the capital, Banjul this December.

The Operation 3-years Jotna is a pressure group that has been calling on President Adama Barrow to respect the agreement he made with the Coalition 2016 leaders and step down at the end of his 3 years mandate this December. The group has vowed to protest if Mr Barrow fails to step down.

Chairman of the National Youth Council (NYC), Dembo Kambi confirmed to The Point that the 2019 NAYCONF event has been postponed until April 2020, during the Easter Holiday.

“NYC has discussed the matter with MoYS and they have made it clear that due to the lined up programs that are scheduled for December, it wouldn’t be possible to hold the event. Therefore, due to security advice, it is better to move the NAYCONF to 2020.”

Mr Kambi said postponement of the biennial youth gathering has to do with the 3-years Jotna protest that is planned for December.  “We have come to a conclusion among ourselves, during a meeting that NAYCONF can’t hold due to security reasons. After the meeting, I told my Council that we can’t take any decision for the fact that I want to get the view of young people across the country first.”

He called on youth organisations that are registered with the NYC to brainstorm and discuss the issue, saying “We all agree that due to the condition that we might find ourselves in, we might not be able to go ahead with NAYCONF because it’s mostly supported by the government.”

According to Mr Kambi, government contribution to the hosting of every NAYCONF is about 2 million Dalasis. “Now, the government is saying that due to security reasons they don’t think that they can converge young people in Banjul. However, if it is to be hosted by regions, they could have probably allowed us to go ahead.”

He said they at the NYC did not, in fact have any funds to go ahead with the event, saying they are only assured through pledges from certain partners. “But again, those partners will only support when the government sends in its contribution,” he stated.

Mr Kambi said in an event the government did not put in its contribution and stood by its 2020 proposal, it would be difficult for them to go ahead with the event because they may not get the necessary resources to go ahead with the NAYCONF.

Sutay Jawo, Deputy Permanent Secretary MoYS said they are asking for the postponement of the event for security reasons, saying as a result of security concerns based on the rumours in town and for the safety of the young people, they felt it is important to postpone the event until 2020. “It is not our will that the event is postponed. However, you can’t also gather more than two thousand people in Banjul where these people planned their protest.”

Mr Jawo admits that it is true that the Ministry of Youth and Sport has written to the NYC indicating that they want the 2019 NAYCONF to be postponed until 2020.

Executive Director of NYC, Lamin Darboe said the issue of the 3-years Jotna might be part of the reasons for the postponement of the event for security reason, but said it also has to do with resource mobilization.

He said it is not easy to mobilize about two thousand young people for a week long activity because it involves lot of resources. “What I can tell you is that we are at consultation stage with regional youth chairpersons across the country, including some registered youth organisations with regard to the ministry’s position,” he said.