By: Foday Manneh
The President of The Gambia, Adama Barrow, presided over the National Youth Conference and Festivals (NAYCONF) opening on Friday, November 16, 2022, at the Never Again Memorial Arch, formerly Arch 22 in Banjul.
The biennial event coordinated by the National Youth Council (NYC) under the auspices of the Ministry of Youth and Sports was last held in 2017 in Basse, Upper River Region. Unfortunately, since then, it has suffered several postponements due to the global Covid-19 pandemic.
However, the NAYCONF returned this year as host; Banjul welcomes over 2000 youth from across the country’s six regions and beyond to interact, share experiences, filter, and discuss issues affecting their lives and growth.
This year’s theme is “The Role of Young People in the Maintenance of Peace and Security for Socio-Economic Development — Opportunities and Challenges.”
In his opening statement, President Adama Barrow said his government is serious and passionate about youth matters and will continue to provide the enabling environment for Gambian youths to succeed in the country.
He also reaffirmed his government’s commitment to review all statutory documents of the Ministry of Youth and Sports and its satellite institutions to serve the needs of all Gambian youths.
“The reviews will put these institutions on a better footing to serve the needs of all Gambian youths. In addition, a five-year Strategic Plan, 2022-2026, for the Ministry has also been developed for a keener focus on youth matters,” the President said.
Barrow preached and emphasized the importance of young people in maintaining peace and security and advised them to remain peaceful and law-abiding citizens.
The Minister of Youth and Sports, who also doubles as the Chairman of the National Organizing Committee, Bakary Y. Badjie, described this year’s convergence as unique and different, citing the innovative approaches put in to make it a success. Still, he has this to advise the delegates.
“I know there is a competition in the NAYCONF, but I advise that you maintain absolute decorum throughout the process.”
Welcoming the delegates in the host region, Mayoress of Banjul, Rohey Malick Lowe, said that young people are critical constituents of the nation as they contribute to the country’s socio-economic development.
The activities of the weeklong event includes inter-generational dialogue, youth conferences, sports, cultural activities, academic competitions, awards, exhibitions, and creative arts, among others.