Feb 22, 2012, 12:26 PM
If the decision to move the venue for this year’s NaYCONF away from Janjanbureh did not go down well with one person, it is the Governor of the provincial Central River Region.
Ganyi Touray did not even pretend to hide it. However, in this exclusive interview, he tells NaYCONF Daily that although his intention was for the event to be held in Janjanbureh, the provincial capital, now that Bansang, a major town in the same region, is hosting it, he urges Janjanbureh to take it in good faith.
It is your region, CRR’s turn to host the NaYCONF this year. Can you share with us your impressions?
Well, I am very pleased with the decision reached by the National Organising Committee, backed by the president, His Excellency Sheikh Professor Dr Alhagie Yahya A.J.J Jammeh, for CRR to host this event. The last time CRR hosted it [then it was the Youth Week] was in 1992. That is almost twenty years ago. It is due for the region to host it now and thank God we are giving the opportunity to host it.
What does hosting NaYCONF mean to you as the Governor, in particular and the people of CRR in general?
It means a lot to me as the governor because this is an event that comes rare in one’s life time. It is hosted by one region every two years. We have seven administrative regions, which means it takes almost sixteen to eighteen years for a region to host it again. It is, therefore, a rare occasion for a region to host the event. You can even be around to witness it, but to be part of it is a different thing. I am very pleased to take part in the event and to be part of it as a governor.
What are some of the things that you have put in place as the governor to make sure that the youth of CRR benefit from of the opportunities that NaYCONF comes with?
That is for the National Organising Committee…You can now see both the basketball and volleyball lawns are finished. There was no light on the ground, and today you can see light in every corner of the school. So those are some of the things that the community will benefit from. That aside, the friendship and the social interaction among their fellow youth during the period will make them to benefit from something which can be meaningful in their lives.
What level of community participation do you anticipate from this NaYCONF?
The communities are fully sensitised and they are all aware of the event. As you can see, all these people have been working here since. Our participants as well are also fully prepared and are all on the ground at the moment. We are having good participants and lots of people will be coming for the event here this year. Our sensitisation programmes were extended to other communities in the district and beyond, because we are expecting a big crowd during the opening. Nonetheless, it is going to be well coordinated.
NaYCONF 2012 was originally scheduled for Janjanbureh until in the last minute when the NOC and LOC decided to move the event to Bansang. What was the reaction of the people of Janjanbureh?
Yeah! Thank you for this question. They were not happy with the decision. But then all what I told them was that, when we had the NaYCONF in KMC in 2010, they did not say that the next event will be held in Janjanbureh, Kaur or Bansang, but in CRR. In CRR, we have six hundred and eighty-six villages. It was we who decided to take it to Janjanbureh. That was my wish and maybe the people I work with. But then concerns were raised somewhere. So, I therefore thank the President for his timely intervention, hence concerns were raised over Janjanbureh hosting the event. You cannot take someone somewhere that he or she does not want. The President said okay, you cannot force the people to go to Janjanbureh, but you cannot also take the event away from the people of CRR.
I called the people of the community and told them in a meeting that this thing does not belong to Janjanbureh, but it belongs to CRR. We have other big towns in the region that have secondary schools and can host the event, such as Brikamaba, Wassu, Kaur and Bansang. We want the event to take place in CRR. That alone should satisfy the people of Janjanbureh. The decision was not ours but people made concerns and I urged them to respect the concerns made by the people coming to the event. They have now taken everything in good faith and things are going very fine now.
Was it a hard decision for you to take to transfer the event from Janjanbureh to Bansang, and do you think it will have any negative effect to their participation in the event?
No, I don’t think it has any negative effect to their participation, because out of the eleven bulls we gathered in Janjanbureh one is from the community. Now we are talking of having the conferences in Janjanbureh. All the ministers coming for the event will stay in Janjanbureh. They are still not left behind. It was a very hard decision for me to take. But when the truth comes, one has to say it.
The truth is that my intention was for this thing to be held in Janjanbureh. But when the issues arose from regions based on what happened in the last International Day for Women commemorations held in Janjanbureh, people were afraid of hosting the NaYCONF there.
NaYCONF offers an opportunity for youth to showcase their talents and share idea. What are your expectations of the 2012 event?
Well, I think that we are expecting a lot from the youth, knowing the importance the government, especially the President, attaches to youth affairs, as manifested in his donation of D2.5 million to them for the event. He is interested in the youth and they should show him what they can do, considering what he did, too, in the Farafenni and the KMC event.
In that case, I think the youth should also show their appreciation to him. This is a time for them to show their loyalty to the President, looking at what he has recently done for girls who participated in the U-17 World Cup in Azerbaijan.
Again, without his intervention, this event would not take place this year. The NaYCONF made a budget of more than D4M, but had only D1.2 million. And then the president came in to give them D2.5M.
For the community of Bansang it was a last minute preparation, how would you commend the effort of the people of Bansang?
Oh! I must say they have done extremely well because the very day I informed them that we have taken the decision to bring the event to Bansang, I told them that it is CRR; that we can prepare in twenty-four hours to host the event. The Local Organising Committee and the people of Bansang as well as the surrounding villages reacted quickly in meeting the deadline. Of cause, this does not go without the timely intervention of some individuals like the Minister of Justice, some National Assembly members, the acting Chief, the Alkalos, NAWEC officials, teachers and students. So, I have to commend them for their valuable contributions.
What are your final words?
As I said before, I wish to thank everybody, especially the National Organising Committee. Yes, we were all concerned about what happened, and during that period we may have said something unintentional to one another, when they were trying to change the venue from CRR to another region. Although I am from CRR, as the head of the region representing the president here, I will want this type of opportunities to happen in my region and more importantly, in my time as the governor. That was why I had to fight tooth and nail to make sure that NaYCONF happens in CRR this time round. But it does not mean creating enmity between one and another. We were not fighting with any region or any member of the committee, but we were fighting for the interest of CRR, our region. I just want to assure the people coming that we are all one.