The Ministry of Youth Has No Authority to Dissolve the National Youth Council

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Building The New Gambia

By Madi Jobarteh

The Ministry of Youth and Sports must know that they do not carry any authority whatsoever to dissolve the National Youth Council. The dissolution of the Council lies with the President of the Republic as provided for by Section 10 sub-section 1 of the National Youth Council Act. In the event of such decision to dissolve the Council, the law provides that the reasons have to be based on two factors as stipulated in sub-sections 1(a) and 1(b) of Section 10. The first is, if an action by the Council is against national interest or violates a prescribed code of conduct of this Act or if the Council fails to comply with any provision of the Act. Hence the letter from the Ministry is not only illegal because the Minister carries no such powers to dissolve, but also the letter did not specify any reasons as per sub-sections 1(a) and 1(b).

In light of this illegal decision by the Ministry of Youth and Sports, the National Youth Council must therefore completely ignore and reject this letter. Furthermore the Chairperson of the National Youth Council must inform the Minister Henry Gomez that he is acting outside of his powers and to therefore demand that he withdraws his letter immediately. Failure to do so, the National Youth Council must take the matter to court to declare the letter null and void. Members of the Council must not under any circumstances, in light of this letter vacate their seats. They must remain in place as provided for by the law.

Gambians must be very alarmed and concerned that the Ministry of Youth and Sports would in the first place conceive of such an illegal idea and even go further to put it into writing. This is because their action is a clear and blatant abuse of power and if it is left unaddressed tantamount to impunity. This illegal action by the Ministry brings back Jammeh-era illegalities where public institutions and officers act illegally and in total contravention of the principles of good governance. It is these kinds of attitudes that, if left unchecked sow the seeds of dictatorships in any society. Hence this dastardly action by the Ministry must be totally and fully condemned by all Gambians immediately. We must all demand that Minster Gomez withdraws his letter.

The fact that the Ministry could issue such an illegal letter in clear violation of the law also speaks to the manner of governance of this Government. Has the Minister informed and sought the approval of the President and the Cabinet prior to taking his illegal decision? Has the Ministry ever engaged the youths of this country to assess and determine their state of affairs in order to chart a better way forward? What has the National Youth Council done as to warrant such a decision? In the absence of these actions, how therefore could the Minister think that he has the powers to take arbitrary decisions as if he owns the National Youth Council?

The Youth of the Gambia must wake up and stand their ground to ensure that never again will individuals use their office to abuse the young people of this country. The youth must not forget that they were one of the worst victims of bad governance since independence. Since independence, young people have been denied opportunities to develop their knowledge and skills in order to earn decent and dignified means of survival. Many young people have been forced to flee their country only to die in the wilderness. Many more have been shot dead, tortured and abused. Political parties and the government have used our youth as thugs and tools for the self-aggrandizement of politicians and parties.

Yet our young people have been in the forefront in the fight against and removal of dictatorship in this country. Therefore our young people must be alert and put a stop to such illegal decisions or actions that threaten their lives, their rights and their future. This action by the Ministry of Youth and Sports should therefore been seen from that perspective as another attempt to bamboozle and abuse them for nothing.

The Minister and the Ministry of Youth and Sports must be told that they cannot develop the youth of the Gambia without respecting and protecting the rights of the youth. The Ministry cannot develop our youth if they do not only fail to safeguard but also in fact seek to undermine and kill the independence and professionalism of the institutions created to promote youth development. No minister or ministry or government can develop a people when you refuse to engage with that population over their issues and concerns. No ministry can develop the youth when we limit the space for the empowerment and participation of young people in decisions that affect their lives. Hence the Ministry of Youth and Sports has taken a path that is a direct threat to the rights and welfare of the young people of the Gambia.

I hereby offer to the National Youth Council and all youths the offices and resources of TANGO as a platform to come together to discuss issues and plan actions for the betterment of the youth. TANGO will be more than willing to provide necessary guidance and support to ensure that the rights and welfare of the youth are not only protected but also enhanced.

God Bless The Gambia

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