May 5, 2014, 9:45 AM
The outgoing United States Embassy Charge d’ Affaires, Joseph Stafford, has said the work of the National Youth Parliament (NYP) is critically important as it tackles lack of awareness by communicating directly with the Gambian people through highly accessible mediums such as radio.
Charge d’ Affaires Joseph Stafford was speaking at the opening ceremony of a training for young people organised by the National Youth Parliament held recently at the President’s International Award Scheme (PIA).
About 75 youth parliamentarians, drawn from across the country, were trained on good governance, accountability, transparency, radio presenting, social media communications skills, the Local Government Act, and election observation.
“You encourage Gambians to inform themselves about the actions of their National Assembly members and to question these actions,” he said.
Too often, the issues and concerns of young people get swept under the rug, he said, adding that young Gambians must start championing their own cause.
He said by equipping the youth with knowledge about civil involvement and local government, “you are turning them into leaders in their own rights”.
“The fact that young people are spearheading such an important campaign is a testament to the ingenuity and creativity of young Gambians,” he said. “The potential of the Gambian youth is tremendous and the young people of this country have impressed me with their talent, activism and entreneurship,” he said.
Chargé d’Affaires Joseph Stafford said further: “Perhaps the project’s greatest potential impact lies with the weekly radio broadcasts on six stations throughout The Gambia.
“We all know how popular radios are; so these broadcasts have the potential to reach a large number of people and effect positive change in how people understand and relate to their government.”
In his remarks on the occasion, Majority leader Hon. Fabakary Jatta, while narrating his experience working with the Youth Parliament, said he was deeply impressed by the radio programmes the Youth Parliament is running.
He added that the National Assembly has been working with the Youth Parliament by inviting its members regularly to observe sittings of the National Assembly’s much-respected Public Accounts Committee and Public Enterprise Committee (PAC/PEC) and legislative sessions.
Hon. Jatta also said the National Assembly is promoting transparency and accountability in its entire work by subjecting themselves to scrutiny.
The annual retreat of the National Assembly members, he went on, “is being done to this effect and that the public is invited” to ask their National Assembly members questions on what they are doing for them and how they could better the lives of their people.
The speaker of the National Youth Parliament, Hon. Samba Bah, underscored the importance of the work of the youth parliament.
He thanked the US Embassy for the “good work” accomplished over the past year, citing the US$45,000 support funds from the US Department of State.
Speakers at the ceremony included the executive director of the National Youth Council, Lamin Darboe, and ward councillor Pa Saikou Jallow, who all applauded the “good work” of the youth parliamentarians in championing the status of the youth in the country.