By Olimatou Coker
The chairperson of the National Youth Council has called on young people in the country to engage in the politics of ideas, instead of sentiments which, he argued, cannot contribute to the development of the country.
Ousman Fatty, who was speaking during the launching of a national peace campaign and dialogue on democratic reforms and youth participation in political processes in The Gambia, said it is the responsibility of the NYC to maintain decorum throughout the political cycle.
The three-day dialogue brought together 70 participants from different political parties, including CSOs and other government institutions to discuss, learn and share best practices. It was organised by the National Youth Council in partnership with Ecowas, the African Union and the African Governance Architecture (AGA).
The convergence seeks to raise awareness among the youth on the ongoing democratic reforms in the country leading to the general elections, and to strengthen the capacity of youths in promotion of dialogue on democratic reforms.
“Peace is expensive and we must never play it down. Tribalism is an obstacle to any meaningful national development and we must therefore eliminate it from within all of our social, economic, and political processes,” Mr Fatty said.
Mrs Vabah Gayflor, the Ecowas resident representative in The Gambia, said that there is a need for young people to be aware of their roles and responsibilities regarding democratic and reform processes as the country prepares to conduct presidential and legislative elections in 2021 and 2022, respectively.
“I think this initiative is a laudable one as it agrees with the priorities of the country’s National Development Plan, the AU agenda 2063, and the Ecowas Vision 2050,” she said, adding that there are conscious and deliberate efforts to promote the interest of the youth as they are the greatest assets of any nation.
She denounced the exploitation of young people “as tools” by “conflict entrepreneurs” to achieve their “selfish goals”.
She said: “You may agree with me that the youth are potential leaders and therefore every effort should be made to develop their potentials for national development. It is only through this means they can air their views of national issues which affect them and the rest of the population.”