Apr 21, 2009, 5:58 AM
Young people from different youth organisations, including some prominent youth leaders in the country have called on the government and the private sector to invest more in youth empowerment.
Youth activists made the call on Friday March 13th at the National Assembly chambers during an intergenerational dialogue, organised by the National Youth Parliament (NYP).
The forum dubbed "Invest in Young People for Sustainable Development," is part of activities marking the NYP's eight anniversary celebration.
The participants called on the government and the private sector to do more for young people. While some plead for NYC’s annual subvention to be increased to cater for the increasing demand of the council, others called on the government to challenge private sector institutions to commit more resources to youth development. The need to secure a bus for the youth organisations to ease their mobility was also highlighted at the forum. Some activists called for government institutions to open their doors to young people in their search for relevant information.
Addressing the gathering, Sheriff Gomez, the Minister of Youth and Sports said that the government has given a top priority to youth development. Gomez cited the creation of the National Youth Council, National Youth Service Scheme, National Enterprise Development Initiative and President’s Awards Scheme as examples. He maintained that the government wish to see a well educated, skilled, focused, energetic, proactive and patriotic youths, who will not only serve as the life-blood of the country's development aspirations, but also lead the national quest for emancipation, national cohesiveness, well-being and pride.
He admonished youths to rededicate themselves to nation-building, while calling the NYP to know the aspirations of those they claim to represent.
Dilating on the topic: young people's contribution to the Gambian economy and their share of the national budget, the Minister of Finance Honourable Abdou Colley revealed that less than one percent of the 2010 budget is allocated to the sector.
He further argued that the budget for the education sector, which takes a greater chunk of the national budget is in fact meant for young people, hence from primary to tertiary level are made up of young people.
The Finance Minister informed the youths that there exist no easy or quick way of making wealth and even where it exists they are associated with dubious acts, such as drugs and criminality.
"This is certainly not the way we want to see our young people grow, we want a youth that is enterprising, creative and dedicated to nation-building," he stressed.
He challenged youths to acquire knowledge and skills to enable them contribute effectively to nation-building, thus increase their employability.
Deputising for the Gambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Peter Ebrima challenged corporate institutions to support young people in all their endeavours.
Kendaka B Jaye, the Head of Commercial Unit at Elton Oil Company expressed delight at the event. He assured young people of their continuous support.
In a youth statement she delivered, Honourable Maimuna Sarr, the Speaker of the NYP described youth as the most important asset of any nation, thus the need to empower them. She argued that young people are not part of the problems as perceived by others but rather they are part of the solution.
Speaker Sarr reaffirmed on behalf of youths, their resolve to contribute meaningfully to the socio-economic development of the country.
Honourable Fabakary Tombong Jatta, the Majority Leader of the National Assembly encouraged youths to make the best use of the political and other opportunities at their disposal.