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Are youths prepared for NA Polls?

Feb 2, 2012, 12:41 PM | Article By: Nfamara Jawneh

Just less than two months before the National Assembly elections, the question that keeps lingering in my mind is whether Gambia’s young people are really ready for the day. And if they are, then to what extent?

Why I am asking the question is that while the women NGOs and activists are criss-crossing the entire country to encourage the women to contest in the forthcoming elections, no sign of this is being shown by the youth-folk.

Looking at the composition of the Gambian National Assembly, it is clear that the youth are under represented.

In fact, going by the National Youth Policy definition of a youth (15 - 30), I doubt if there is any youth in the Gambian National Assembly.

If there exists any, then it would not be more than one. This to me is unacceptable and the trend must be reversed.

Going by national statistics, young people account for over 60 per cent of the Gambian population, yet they remain the most underrepresented in the country’s highest lawmaking body.

The challenge therefore is for the National Youth Council and youth-led organisations in the country to lead the campaign.

Youth accounts for a greater portion of the electorate and could no doubt convince their peers to vote for youth candidates as well.

The emphasis here is not about the youth getting nominated into the assembly; rather it is for them to be elected.

The political parties and young people themselves should be actively engaged in the electoral process ahead of the polls to select youth candidates across the country.

Youth have the intellectual capacity and the determination to be helping this country in making good laws if given the opportunity.

We need more youth representatives in the House to talk about the plight and interest of young people ranging from employment, to education and other challenges.

Some of our lawmakers are aging and should give chance to the young ones to contest in their constituencies for the coming elections.

Gambian youth must ensure that they are at the centre of the decision-making body through the ballot boxes.

Highlighting the role of youth in the upcoming elections should be the preoccupation of youth activists, national youth organisations, etc.

Engaging youth in Gambian democracy is long over due and we must take charge of our own destiny as youths.