Gambia: NAYCONF Flag Presented to VP

The National Organising Committee of the National Youth Conference (NAYCONF), a biennial youth gathering, Friday presented the 2012 NAYCONF flag to the vice president and minister of Women's Affairs, Aja Dr Isatou Njie-Saidy, at State House. The occasion also witnessed the presentation of this year's concept paper resolution to VP Njie-Saidy.

The NAYCONF 10th Edition, which is slated for 14th-22 December 2012 in the Central River Region island town of Janjangbureh, is on the theme 'Directing and Re-Orienting Youths Participation Towards the Reproductive Sector'. The event brings young people from the various communities across the country to observe the occasion with full and active participation and discuss issues confronting them in their various regions.

Explaining their mission, Pa Suwareh Fye, the acting director of Youth & Sports , dwelled on some of the planned activities lined up to generate funds for the event. He revealed that they plan to stage a gala dinner with some top Gambian artistes on the 23rd of this month. He further revealed that they also created a youth farm called the NAYCONF farm, a rice farm in Janjangbureh, CRR. "We planned a special day during the event, in which all the participants in Janjangbureh will be going to the farm to clear and do some work on," he added.

Fye explained that they are not concentrating only on youth activities this year, but have incorporated some other sporting disciplines like football, basketball, volleyball and wrestling, among others.He said they will be convening a conference in which they have invited some international delegates and traditional dancers. "We want to showcase the talents of youths. So, we are calling on all the youths that are interested in anything of the skills. We are giving stalls free of charge," he intimated.

For his part, Fabakary Kalleh, the chairperson of the National Youth Council, who is also the chairperson of the National Organising Committee of the event, said that as young people they need direction."We are putting up a space for the administration of the NAYCONF.The theme is such that it requires work before and after the event," he added.

Kalleh averred that the youth of this country are ready to move ahead, and only need a little direction and some orientation, which can only come from policymakers and people responsible for the day-to-day affairs of the youths. He hailed the government of The Gambia under the leadership of President Jammeh for giving them support. Kalleh also thanked the government for donating D1M towards the event, while calling on others to support the worthy cause.

For his part, Lamin Nyabally, the permanent secretary at the Office of the Vice President, welcomed the NAYCONF local organising committees to State House.He noted that youths constitute a very important sector of the country and that over 60% of the Gambian population are youths. He said that the event is worth commending, but was quick to add that youths should understand that the enabling environment has been created for them to advance.

He continued: "Given the fact that The Gambia's population is young, it means that there will be many more young people that will graduate from schools. But it is not easy for any economy to ensure that it provides employment for all the citizenry. That's why other avenues are being created, taking example of agriculture, as one area where young people can take advantage of."

PS Nyabally urged young people to acquire gainful skills in order to make a difference in their respective communities. He also stressed that the skilled workers in the country are foreigners. He finally expressed government's resolve to empower the young people of this country so as to maximise their full potentials.

Alieu K Jammeh, the minister of Youth and Sports, used the opportunity to call on the young peopleto shun drugs and other illicit substances that can hinder their wellbeing. He stressed that The Gambia offers lots of opportunities that if utilised, can impact positively on the lives of its citizenry. He advised the young people to take advantage of such opportunities instead of attempting to travel through the back way to Europe. Minister Jammeh also thanked the Gambian leader and the vice president for supporting and guiding young people of the country.

For her part, VP Njie-Saidy, on behalf of the Gambian leader, thanked the Youth and Sports minister for guiding the youths in the country in a right way, adding that women and youth issues are always cross cutting. She also pointed out that the country has in recent years made significant progress in terms of youth development, citing the creation of NYSS as well as the enhancement of the Presidential International Award Scheme, among others.

She added: "The president invested in the fisheries sector though we had some bad stories from it but we also registered good stories as well. I'm sure there are still a lot of youths in the fisheries sub-sector and if they have the fishing gears, some will really be there."

VP Njie-Saidy noted that some youths have changed their mindset and are beginning to see the realities of the day, thus, embracing the president's call for them to take a lead role in national development. "When the president made the call for youths to go back to the land, we are now beginning to see youth farmers now. They are farming as the president has set an example," she further stated.

While emphasising that President Jammeh has tried and has continued to create more employment for the young people of this country, the VP said it will be difficult to provide employment for everyone in the country. She pointed out that industrialised economies are still tackling problems of unemployment, much less a developing country like The Gambia.

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