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NATIONAL FOCUS: Dilemma of the African youths

Jan 2, 2020, 2:35 PM

This piece will reflect on the dilemma of the African youths and The Gambian youths in particular. It is important to discuss and to debate about the objective conditions of the youths who are most affected by lack of access to gainful employment and victims of unfulfilled government promises.

For 54 years the youths (men and women) have clapped, danced, supported and voted for governments of the elderly. The governments of the elderly failed to reciprocate the good will gestures of the youths in the development process. In The Gambia this year, National Assembly members insisted that more resources should be allocated in the 2020 Budget to the Ministry of Youths and Sports that continues to be headed by elderly minister after minister. Yet, there is no longer small pool of dynamic, educated and committed youths who can take over the mantle of leadership in youth affairs in the country.

There is over whelming evidence that the African youth including Gambian youths are being traumatised, marginalised, humiliated, frustrated and discriminated against in many instances. They are being stressed everyday; life is becoming more and more difficult for them. These are contributing factors to the poor and pitiful plight of youth in The Gambia and elsewhere in Africa. Yet the involvement of youths who are the crème of society, in the development process is vital to the well-being of society. Given the fact that youths constitute about 65% of the population, they are either the key or answer to sustainable development. The empowerment of youths in the development agenda is of absolute necessity and is of utmost urgency.

I am therefore, reminding the government of the Gambia of the fierce urgency of addressing the concerns of the youths in concrete terms and to avoid unfulfilled promises. Political life has expiry date and that the youths will not take it kindly if their situation remains weak in empowerment.

In empowerment, we want to see the transition of the youths from pain to pleasure. In empowerment, we want to see economic power for the youths. We want equal opportunity and gender balance for all youths, men and women. In empowerment, we want program interventions to be increased for the uplift of youths from poverty to prosperity, from an era of hopes to an era of development, from the abuse of women to the protection of women. And in short, to ensure their effective predication in all aspects of national life. Youths must assume their rightful status in our society.

Let me ask this question. Can we honestly say that the much talked about empowerment activities for the youths have significantly yielded dividends for them? For example, would the, sum of D20, 000 or D30, 000 seed money in these inflationary times seriously up lift the status of any youth from poverty. Would a D200 fair be reasonable to give to a deportee on arrival at the airport? Would a system of unending workshops and seminars cater to the needs of the youths and ensure their empowerment for a descent life. We must be ready as a country to take up full responsibility for setting the right foundations for the wellbeing of the youths or else we will all perish in shame.

The recent crisis regarding migration has waken the moral consciences of the world. It is a widely held view that the deportation of Africans from America and Europe violates their human rights and contravenes the UN charter on universal declaration of human people right.

Why would the West become intolerant of African migrants after the West used African labor to build the West? Why would Africa governments turn blind eyes to the exodus of their citizens to Europe in this day and age? The youths have found themselves in a catch 22 situation-neither here in Africa nor there in Europe and America. Hence the mass deportations of African people to their homeland

The question now is what should be done under the circumstances to keep our youths back home safe and sound. I think the solution calls for coequal responsibility between the government and the youths themselves. The government should be seen to create, the enabling environment in real terms to keep the youths in productive engagement. The youths must realize that some people dream of success, others not only dream but wake up and work at it.

In this regard, the training provided by GTTI, Insight Training Institute, Real Tech Gambia Ltd., etc for youths employment skills, is the way forward to sustainable livelihood for our youths. Training institutions like these should be applauded by all for encouraging the youths to become self-Reliant through live skills. As a matter of fact, such training scheme is an indictment on the misoriented educational system which breads white color mentality when graduates seek for jobs.

The government and development partners should be seen to collaborate to set up a fully equipped and functional National skills Development Training Institute for maximum impact in the empowerment of youths. All areas of sustainable livelihoods such as auto mechanics, electrician, plumbing, carpentry joinery, radio and cell phone repairs, Tv technicians, computer technicians, masonry, welding and fabrication, construction, electronics, painting, etc. For such a center, qualified trainers and lecturers could be recruited on a two yearly contract basis from within the Gambia or from aboard. Two years of intensive training should be reasonable to produce a skillful population. With skills the youths will become employable or self-reliant. This is the way to unlock the potentials of the youths for sustainable development. Government must also act decisively to revamp the productive sectors of the economy and engage the youths in gainful employment.                                                                                                

The author is a retired diplomat, technocrat and seasoned Administrator of long standing in the service of his country. He is widely known for his oratory skills and strong public relations approach. The author is a trained political scientist.