Logo of the West Coast Regional Youth committee
By Buba Gagigo
The West Coast Region Youth Committee has accused Brikama Area Council Chairman Yankuba Darboe of making misleading statements about the nomination of a Youth Councilor to serve on the BAC.
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“The West Coast Regional Youth Committee wishes to clarify “the misleading statement” made by BAC Chairman Yankuba Darboe on the nomination of the Youth Councilor. It could be recalled that a month ago, the Regional Youth Committee, (RYC) being a branch of the National Youth Council (NYC) and comprised of legitimately elected executives, called for applications to fill the position of a Youth Representative or Councilor,” they said.
The West Coast Regional Youth Committee stated that after a widely published advertisement in various media, their committee shortlisted five candidates from 41 applicants. They said a thorough screening and competence test revealed that one Bubacarr Sambou, a ‘renowned’ Youth leader of the region, is the most qualified, and thus, they shortlisted him for the position.
“As a matter of formality and in the spirit of good governance, a letter was written to Chairman Darboe, informing him about the decision of the Regional Youth Committee to nominate Bubacarr Sambou and attached his curriculum vitae as a reference. Although the office of the BAC chairman is just a few meters from the Regional Youth Office, our letter was received and then a defeaning silence from the Chairman. He does not see the need to reply as a matter of respect and courtesy. Therefore, his position or opinion was never formally related to us (RYC),” they explained.
The West Coast Regional Youth Committee reported that, over time, amid a hushed atmosphere, they began to hear rumors from close associates of the Chairman, suggesting that their nominee, Baboucarr Sambou, had been rejected by the Chairman.
“It must be stated that during the process, the chairman has expressed his desire for a female representative (even though no law or policy requires so), which the Regional Youth Committee respects and unanimously agreed that if indeed any competent female applied and became the most qualified, she shall not be discriminated against; thus, gender will not be a barrier because it has never been so.”
“The RYC therefore stated without ambiguity that we will not select based on anything but on merit. After efforts to reach out to him at his office. The chairman clearly told our representatives that he had rejected the nomination of Bubacarr Sambou due to his age. Our representatives at that meeting didn’t waste time to suggest to the Chairman that they have four more candidates that were shortlisted, including a female, who are all within the age range of 35,” they said.
According to the youth committee’s account, the suggestion did not sit well with the chairman, who explicitly communicated to the committee that he already had a nominee in mind and expected them to accept his choice.
“We told him we cannot take that decision on the spot but have to meet over the matter because the RYC is a representative body. The regional Youth Committee Chairman pleaded with Chairman Darboe to still allow the committee to nominate the second person, which the chairman has rejected on the spot and said he will not accept,” they explained.
On July 25, 2023, the Regional Youth Committee (RYC) held a consultative meeting with other representatives. During the meeting, the RYC expressed their stance to Chairman Darboe, stating that they could not agree at their level to accept the individual he wanted to “impose.” Their reasoning was that his nominee lacked a fundamental understanding of youth structures and had no track record within the various affiliated youth groups in the West Coast region.
“This statement didn’t go down well with Chairman Darboe, and he said since “we are becoming too complicated with this issue”, he will prefer not to even have a Youth representative at the Council. He pointed out that one of his elected councilors is young and can play the role of a Youth representative to reduce the cost of Council expenses. We tried to get him very clear, thus we asked again whether he meant the young people will no longer be represented at the council. He said, “Yes!” I don’t need a youth rep anymore.”
“The Regional Youth Committee expressed disappointment with the way and manner in which Chairman Yankuba Darboe usually addresses them during meetings. We found his reactions and utterances very disturbing and not the way to establish a cordial relationship between his office and the Regional Youth Committee,” they concluded.