Youth groups demand resignation of Sports minister

Jul 23, 2020, 10:37 AM | Article By: Momodou Jawo

Youth representatives from a wide spectrum of youth movements in The Gambia including some regional youth chairmen, are demanding the immediate resignation of Hadrammeh Sidibeh, the country’s minister for Youth and Sports.

On Wednesday, the angry youth stormed the premises of the National Youth Council (NYC) to express their total disapproval with the latest developments unfolding at the National Youth Council, displaying placards with powerful inscriptions; ‘the appointment of the new chairman of NYC without consultation with the council member, is in total contravention of the NYC Act’ ‘anything for the youth without the youth is not for the youth’ appointment should be based on merits and not relationships and Hadrammeh Sidibeh must go’ among others.

The recent discontentment among youths according to many, was in connection to the “illegal” sacking of Lamin Darboe, former NYC acting executive director and also the appointment of Ousman Fatty, as the chairman of the National Youth Council.

Fatty replaced Dembo Kambi, whose term of office had expired.

The appointment of Mr. Fatty, according to these youth, was purely based on “nepotism” owing it to the fact that he (Fatty) is above 40 years of age, hence he is above the youth age bracket.

The furious youths, however, vowed to stage a national protest where thousands of young people across the country would gather for a week or two days to protest for the independence of the country’s youth council.

Nfamara Jawneh, executive director of Beakanyang, a civil-society organization acknowledged that issues affecting the country’s NYC are not about the staff of the council and neither the officials of the council, but rather it’s about the young people of the country.

“Therefore, today’s press briefing is a signal to a massive national protest that we are about to hold in this country. We are not satisfied with the way and manner issues are handled at the NYC by the government of The Gambia most especially the Ministry of Youth and Sport,” he emphasized, adding that as key stakeholders of the NYC, they were not informed about the appointment of a new chairperson to take charge of the NYC.

Jawneh claimed that Mr. Fatty's appointment was done without due consultation with major stakeholders, especially council members.

 “This is “unacceptable” and therefore, we are sending a strong warning to the youth minister and by extension to the government of The Gambia, that the young people of the country are very much disappointed with the current administration youth in the country due to the manner and ways they are handling youth issues.”

He maintained that a person who is above 40 years cannot be considered a youth anywhere in the world more so in The Gambia.

“Therefore, bringing such a person to lead the NYC as the chairperson is an “insults” to the young people of this country. We have committed and well-educated young people in the country, who could do the work properly.”

Saikou Darboe, regional youth chairperson of LRR explained that they are out to show their total dissatisfaction in the way Darboe’s service was terminated as well as the manner in which the new chairperson of the NYC is appointed.

 “We are here today to express our anger and dissatisfaction at the way and manner Darboe’s service was terminated and the way and manner of which the new chairperson of NYC was appointed. If any person should take the mantle of leadership of this country especially on youth issues, then it must be in consultation with the young people. That has been the tradition and in fact, it is in the youth act.”

Darboe maintained that the newly appointed NYC chairperson is a close friend to the youth minister. “Mr. Fatty is not part of us and we don’t know him in any youth organization in this country. The Gambia NYC is a hybrid and we want people to understand that.”

He continued; “Besides, most of our members are civil society, thus we are not small stakeholders in NYC. We want to run the affairs of the council and it should be independent. Therefore, no one should run the affairs of the council for us. In fact, I can inform you that we even send a list to the minister in order for him to select one youth among the four names we send to him”.

Surprisingly, he went on, he(minister )disregarded their list and selected his friend based on “nepotism”, hence they are demanding his resignation.

Babucarr Nyang, a youth leader also expressed similar sentiment.  Nyang calls for non-interference in the running of the National Youth Council.

“We want the council to be neutral and independent. How can you appoint a new NYC chairperson who’s above 35 years of age? The question is whether that individual will even represent the interest of the young people of the country and the sub-region? Therefore, this is a signal ahead of the national protest that we will be staging demanding the independence of NYC. We will make sure that we have on board the entire youth organisation across the country.”