Nayconf Returns to Banjul After Nearly two Decades

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Mayoress RM Lowe and President Barrow at the Nayconf Opening Ceremony in Banjul on Friday

By: Baboucarr Fallaboweh

Nayconf returned to Banjul for the first time since 2004 as youths across all regions gathered in the capital city for eight days of jammed activities. Themed “The role of young people in maintaining peace and security for socioeconomic development; challenges and opportunities.”

The Banjul Youth committee, headed by Essaha Sowe, and the Banjul Sports committee had a standoff threatening to boycott the event if their demands were not considered. Still, a timely intervention by Mayor Rohey Malick Lowe steadied the ship in the capital as delegates from all regions gathered to take stock of the future in the nation’s most prominent youth convention.

Dadou Janko, who serves on the Youth Committee as the current Banjul Sports Secretary General, said the consensus was mutual.

“It’s a collective decision; unfortunately, I have been misunderstood and misquoted. We agreed as a Sports committee that the Youth Committee should give every sporting discipline D20,000; else we won’t participate.”

“The sports and youth committees should be at the forefront coordinating and running things. Unfortunately, it’s a one-person show; he does things by himself. Every sporting discipline writes its budget and submits it; if they can’t give you the money, they are expected to provide training materials and transport refunds for your players.

‘There are a lot of sub-committees, and you are responsible for these committees. The council pledged 1 million dalasis but only delivered D700,000. Two years ago, when we wanted to host the NAYCONF, it was postponed due to Covid-19. Essaha and its members withdrew funds from the account as signatories. They said they had bought the materials, and I believe the D700,000 is misused and shouldn’t be exhausted like that”

The National Youth Council gave money to GNOC and some individuals. Hadim Gai 100,000, Ports D100,000, MPs and Councilors. With all these funds, you are still saying there is no money. Let the youth committee chairman produce documents, vouchers, and receipts because 700,000 is not D7,000.

The Banjul Sports committee will finance football; we have a budget to cater for; away matches cost us D20,000 while home matches D15,000 in this year’s zonal, we have limited support.”

The tug of words continued as TAT sports presented allegations of misappropriation to the chairman Essaha Sowe who dismissed them as unfounded.

“All that the Banjul sports committee said is an unfounded and mere allegation. We reported the D700,000 in congress, which was approved; the financial statement was issued; therefore, we are clean. The SG is behind all these; he is my vice chair, but his presence is limited, and neither does he call. He wants to create a rift in Banjul sports.”

A statement released by the Banjul Sports committee to temporarily end the standoff said:

“We had a consensus, and the Mayor resolved the issue partly. We followed her advice because she came to the committee’s aid with a package of D350,000.00 (Three Hundred and Fifty Thousand Dalasis) after the Nawettan was held at a standstill for two weeks due to the lack of a sponsor. Most importantly, the BSC is the sporting organ of the city council under the tutelage of whoever is the Mayor of Banjul. Therefore, our stance, position, and level of involvement as a sports committee where most executive members are way below 40 must be clarified, especially when money is involved. We live in a small but dangerous city, and our reputation & integrity as young people is something we will safeguard at all costs.”

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