By Alagie Manneh
The National Assembly Member for Jangjangbureh, Omar ‘Jatto’ Jammeh, has opined that the government of President Barrow may not be serious about addressing the issues affecting young people in The Gambia.
He was speaking in reference to the recently allocated budget for the Ministry of Youths in 2024 and the recent surge in irregular migration among Gambian youths.
Mr Jammeh pointed to issues he said are indicative of the government’s lack of foresight and disregard for the plight of young people.
“Look at the youth and sports budget, it tells you that there is nothing there for the young people. Again, there are very few opportunities for young people to grab in this country. If you do an analysis of the entire situation, it’s not only the area of youths or those unemployed, but even the employed, including nurses and security personnel are migrating. In our view, it is as a result of underpaying our human resources, including our civil service. For me, I think the president needs to go back to the drawing board with his entire Cabinet, and look especially at the salary structure. People are paid a pittance, far from enough to cater for an individual, talk less of a family with inflation everywhere,” Hon Jammeh said.
He argued that the lack of a proper communication channel between the youth ministry and youth organisations has led to a disconnect between young people and those in authority.
“For me, there is no proper coordination,” he added.
Jammeh also blamed the centralised system of The Gambia’s development as a contributing factor to the backway issue. “We in the rural areas are not only affected by the backway issue, but the rural-urban drift in search of jobs has affected us greatly.”
He called on journalists to remind President Barrow of his 150,000 jobs promised to the Gambian youth. “He [President Barrow] up till now is unable to tell us what strategies he is going to put in place to ensure that those jobs are ready and available. Otherwise, all those pledges are nothing but political statements,” he said.
To address the situation, the lawmaker stated: “We should look at the overall 2024 budget and at the sectors that caters for young people and create a central coordination point which will be the youth and sports ministry, and ensure all institutions or agencies who have funds for young people work with this ministry and map out the needs of young people. Let us invest in the productive sectors and get our young people participating meaningfully that they may self-actualise in dignity here in The Gambia.”