The National Youth Conference and Festival (NAYCONF 2010) is a biennial event which is meant to bring together 1000 young people from across the country and beyond to share experiences and discuss issues that affect their lives. This will enhance the participation of youths in our national development efforts through harnessing their potentials. The organisation of this important event is a policy directive as it is stipulated in the National Youth Policy and the Act that established the National Youth Council of The Gambia.
Against this background, the National Youth Council has chosen the issue of illegal drugs and corruption as central discussion points, in the theme for this edition of the National Youth Conference and Festival. By Thursday, participants to this important youth forum will be meeting in diverse places within the Kanifing Municipality, for at least a week.
We urge that there be equal representation of delegates from all the country's regions to this event. It has been noticed that you continue to see the same faces appearing at every NAYCONF, from some regions.
This should not be the case. A forum of this nature is an opportunity to expose young people from all regions to national issues, therefore equal representation is essential.
There is a need for representation from all the districts, and if possible wards, in the country, and to have the views of young people of diverse walks of life represented.
We urge the conference delegates in particular to critically voice out issues affecting the teeming mass of Gambian young people.
Illegal use of and trafficking in illicit drugs and rampant corruption anywhere are catalysts for crime, violence and lop-sided development. Thus, we firmly believe that youths have a very important role to play in the national crusade against these vices.
The youth are an important and are critical partners in national development, and must be oriented to make them appreciate our religious and cultural norms and values, which frown on illicit drug abuse and trafficking, as well as corruption in any form in our society.
According to the organisers, the estimated budget for NAYCONF 2010 is D2.5 million. This shall help in implementing post-NAYCONF activities as well, which are crucial to the overall success of the programme. In this regard, we would like to commend Gamcel for donating handsomely to this year's NAYCONF, which helps towards hosting the event in the Kanifing Municipality.
We urge other institutions to come forward to support the country's future leaders stage a successful event.
"The foundation of every state is the education of its youth."