Tuesday, October 3

Chairman Darboe Weighs In On Youth Councillor Nomination Saga

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Yankuba Darboe, Chairman of Brikama Area Council (BAC)

By Buba Gagigo

Yankuba Darboe, Chairman of the Brikama Area Council (BAC), has clarified that he rejected Bubacarr Sambou’s nomination to be the West Coast Regional Youth Councillor because Mr. Sambou is over the age of thirty-five.

Chairman Darboe said that he made the decision in accordance with the National Youth Policy 2018–2029, which defines a youth in the Gambia as any person between the ages of 15 and 35. Mr. Sambou is therefore ineligible for the position as he is over the age limit.

“The man is over 40years old, and the law says from 15 to 35 years. And I told them before that we, the male councilors, are more than the female councilors, and we want to nominate more female councilors so that we can have a balance. I told them clearly that I would prefer that if they were going to propose a person to me for nomination, let that person be a female youth. They came with an over-age adult male, and I told them I am not accepting it, and if that is the best choice, I will choose someone who will represent, and it will be a female youth,” chairman Darboe said.

Darboe said that when they asked him if he had someone in mind for the position, he told them that he did and that he would choose that person if they did not bring a female youth representative.

“So now they want to politicize it to say that I want UDP. But the bottom line is that seventy-seven thousand (77,000) people voted for me because I am UDP, so why should I discriminate against anyone because they are UDP? The bottom line is that we want youth and the youth have to be female because we have many male candidates elected. If you look at our council, it is predominantly male. Their own youth secretary told me that it will be the first of its kind if we nominate a female youth in the country, and that’s what we want to do, and that’s exactly what we will do,” the chairman said.

Additionally, the chairman said that he would not nominate Bubacarr Sambou as the Youth Councillor because GALGA secretary Amadou Tambedou had written to him that GALGA would not allow anyone over the age limit to be part of their YELO association.

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A message from the GALGA secretary to the BAC Chairman, obtained by this medium, reminded BAC of the age limit for youth representatives. The message was intended to ensure that youth representatives are able to fulfill their roles effectively. It read, in part:

“This is a gentle reminder towards the nomination of youth councilors. According to the National Youth Policy 2018–2029, a youth in the Gambia is any person aged 15–35 years. Thus, please ensure that your nominated Youth councilors are not out of this age. Otherwise, it will not be a proper representation and can adversely affect their participation in both national and international events going forward. 

“All nominated youth councilors in The Gambia are expected to be members of the network of YELO. However, those outside the above age bracket will be ineligible to be members of the network. It will be awkward to have a nominated youth councillor who cannot be a member of YELO and cannot participate in functions of YELO both at national and international levels,” the message ends.

Kerr Fatou also contacted Bubacarr Sambou, who was nominated by the West Coast Regional Youth Committee to be their Youth Councillor. Mr. Sambou acknowledged that he is over 35 years old but said that the West Coast Regional Youth Committee told him that age was not an issue when he inquired about it before filing his application.

Mr. Sambou also said that it was the young people of the West Coast Region who called him to convince him to apply for the Youth representative position after applications opened. He said that he did apply for the position.

“Before I applied, I asked the people who were asking me to apply about that. I am beyond thirty-five. They told me that is not an issue because other councils have young people over thirty-five. That was what convinced me. According to the National Youth Policy, the age range is 15 to 35 years, but I asked, and the regional youth committee told me that was not an issue. 

“I am not fighting for it if the age issue is going to be a problem. I have already told the young people that I am ready to take a step back and support another person, but what I will not encourage is the chairman’s imposing. Young people should be allowed to choose their representatives on the council. Even if it is not me, let them be allowed to choose their representative,” he said.

Lamin Sanneh, speaking on behalf of the West Coast Regional Youth Committee, acknowledged that Chairman Yankuba Darboe informed them about Bubacarr Sambou being over-age. However, they have also put forth a proposal to the chairman, requesting permission to replace him with another person.

“Initially, we sent him a name we nominated, but as part of our engagement, they said he doesn’t accept that individual. So, we went further to engage him that, is a person who will serve his interests on council, but all our efforts went futile. Yesterday (Monday), we went there, and he proposed someone for us to accept as our nominated youth councilor. But when we vet the individual, we find it difficult to accept that person. Then he told us if we did not accept that he will go without a youth councilor for cost-effectiveness at the council because things are expensive,” he explained.

Lamin said that their last discussion with the chairman was not the end of the matter. They plan to have another conversation with the chairman to discuss how they will address the issue.

“Initially, that’s what he told us (about the age issue), but we told him we had five shortlisted candidates. We have been doing this. We are the people who nominated Jawara (former youth councilor). This is not the first time we have nominated youth councilors for the council. The act doesn’t specify anything about the age; usually, we don’t put focus on the age. It is the National Youth Act that says 15 to 35. The nomination of a Youth councilor is clearly spelled out in the Local Government Act. 

“That is what the interest group should nominate, and then the chairman made an appointment. But when he brought it, we said, that’s fine; we will not go against your wish. We have five shortlisted, and we will give you one who is within the age range. But now the interest is for someone to be there from his end,” he said.

Asked whether the chairman told them to nominate a woman, he replied, “Yes!” He told me in a conversation that he wants a female. For us, we open an application for people to apply, and those that we see among our shortlisted candidates and those with high marks are men. We also talked within ourselves about how the chairman cannot impose that this is what I want. We are also looking at the people we are representing,” he said.