By Cherno Omar Bobb
Ousman Fatty, Chairman of the National Youth Council (NYC) has urged youths to be involved in politics of ideas and desist from politics of sentiments, adding that sentiments can never develop the country.
Mr Fatty made these remarks on Monday at Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara Conference Centre during the launch of a national peace campaign and dialogue on democratic reforms and youth participation in political processes in the Gambia.
The three-day dialogue is jointly organised by the National Youth Council in partnership with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the African Union (AU) and the African Governance Architecture (AGA). It brought together 70 participants from political parties, civil society organizations and other government Institutions to discuss, learn and share best practices.
The objectives of the dialogue are to raise awareness among the youth on the ongoing democratic reforms in the country leading to the general elections; strengthen the capacity of the youth in promoting dialogue on democratic reforms ahead of the elections; build the capacity of the youth in peace promotion in the Gambia in the context of the elections; enhance the capacity of the youth to contribute to peaceful, democratic and credible elections; and launch a national peace campaign.
Mr Fatty added that “as we prepare for the December polls, it is our responsibility to maintain decorum throughout the political process.”“The Gambia is going to shine and this is not going to happen without the involvement of the youth,” he stated.
The NYC Chairman noted that the country belongs to all of us and whatever we do will live after us.
“Peace is expensive and we must never play it down,” he went on, adding: “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.”
He further said that without any smidgeon of doubt, the participation of the youth in the national peace campaign and dialogue and democratic reforms as well as their participation in the political progresses of the Gambia is as important as participating in national development.
According to him, a meaningful national peace campaign and dialogue is the springboard to national development. He highlighted that the youth lack the capacity when it comes to interfacing with the political cycle, noting that it is based on this backdrop that the National Youth Council deemed it fitting to partner with the ECOWAS Secretariat to organize the training.
Mr Fatty also said that the youth have a critical role to play in the political progress of the country.
He went on to add that the training will arm the youth to confront our current realities.
He expressed the belief that after the training many of the youth will be able to participate in the political progress beyond voting to becoming candidates.
Vabah Gayflor, ECOWAS Resident Representative in The Gambia said in the past the youth have been used as tools and being manipulated by conflict entrepreneurs to achieve their selfish goals. However, she added that today it is gratifying to note that the youth are now engaged in decision-making processes that affect their lives.
She highlighted that now is the time to invest in people, particularly the youth which is the people-centered investment for development, so that they can become agents of political and social stability.
“The youth constitute the pillar of development as they act as a lever of change in any community,” she also said.
She further said that the youth are potential leaders and therefore every effort should be made to develop their potentials for national development. She reiterated ECOWAS’s commitment to the development of the youth to enhance and promote not only in The Gambia, but the entire West Africa region.