Jul 29, 2013, 9:27 AM
The Vice-President Aja Dr. Isatou Njie-Saidy Friday presided over the opening ceremony of the ninth edition of the National Youth Conference and Festival (NAYCONF) 2010, held at the Serrekunda West Mini Stadium.
The biennial event is hosted this time by the Kanifing Municipality and managed by the National Organizing Committee under the auspices of the Ministry of Youth and Sports and the Gambia National Youth Council, under the theme: “Youth Participation and Partnership in the War against Drugs and Corruption.”
The event has brought together around 1,000 young people from all walks of life in the country and beyond, and is aimed at, among others, enabling them to share experiences and discuss issues that affect their lives.
In her opening statement on behalf of the President, the Vice-President described the theme for NAYCONF 2010 as “very apt and relevant in view of government’s relentless battle against illegal drugs and corruption”.
“Trafficking in illicit drugs, their usage and the practice of corruption, undoubtedly, pose not only serious challenges, but also threaten our national development aspirations today,” she declared.
VP Njie-Saidy added that the battle against illegal drugs and corruption requires the effective participation of the youth in finding solutions to nip the menace of drugs in the bud.
According to the Vice-President, corruption and drugs are like twins in a symbiotic relationship, and each has the capacity to destroy our society.
She further said that the socio-economic development of the country, and its continued stability, peace, progress and prosperity hinge on a healthy, well-educated, highly-skilled responsible and confident populace.
“The issues about illegal drug abuse and the practice of corruption are cancerous to the fabric of our society, and destructive to our collective aspirations of making this country the best in the world,” said the Vice President.
She urged the youth to take advantage of this period to craft out tangible practical and pragmatic programmes for themselves, that could be used in complementing government’s effort in the collective war against drug abuse and practice of corruption.
In his remarks to welcome participants, Mayor Yankuba Colley of the Kanifing Municipality described NAYCONF 2010 as an event for youth that helps enhance significantly their development. He stressed that the theme is indeed topical and crucial.
Mayor Colley called on the youth to take advantage of the ample opportunities that have been created by President Yahya Jammeh, which he said are all geared towards achieving Vision 2020 and the Millennium Development Goals.
“We at the KMC will continue to put high participation in youth development,” he said, adding that drugs and corruption destroy the peace of a nation.
Mayor Colley urged the young people to take the conference seriously, and engaged peers at home to fight the menace of illicit drugs and corruption.
In his keynote speech, the Minister of Youth and Sport, Sheriff Gomez, said: “As we witness the emergency of serious social issues affecting our nation, particularly the youth, the government of the Gambia wasted no time in declaring zero tolerance on drugs and corruption.
“It was in that spirit, and under the guidance of the President, that the NAYCONF 2010 adopted this theme for the occasion,” he said, adding that the theme is the main pillar and focus of the event.
Minister Gomez implored the participants to show that they are worthy guests throughout their stay, to interact, exchange ideas, agree to disagree, and to compete to win, which is the spirit and ideal of youth.
Speaking earlier, the Executive Secretary of the National Youth Council, Marcel Mendy, said that, according to most recent data, youth comprise about 60 percent of the country’s population.
“Drugs and corruption are cankerworms and like a jigger, if allowed to have stability, will lead to lawlessness, a high crime rate, among others,” he said.
Mr. Mendy urged all parents, individuals and institutions to invest in youth for the sustainable and meaningful development of the country, by stamping out drugs and corruption.
According to him, it is often said that the youth are the future leaders, but things should go beyond that by ensuring more participation of youth in the development process.
“Development can’t be achieved fully without the meaningful contribution of young people, thus youths’ involvement is the motivating factor of the Gambia government in fighting traffickers and destabilizing their networking,” he added.
Mr. Mendy called for collaboration and coordination by all concerned for the timely intervention in the fight against drugs and corruption, and urged all citizens to be law-abiding.
Malang Jassey, in his capacity as the chairperson of National Organizing Committee, and who is also the Director of Youth and Sports, delivered the vote of thanks.