There is no misgiving that Ebola is a deadly virus which continues to wolf lives in affected West African states like a bush-fire in a windy summer day. The “Back Way” exodus to Europe via turbulent seas and grilling deserts is equally devouring lives of many Gambian youths. In the recent past, over 96 youthful lives perished in the Atlantic oceans when their boat was engulfed by a tempestuous storm wiping out their precious lives and dreams within the blind of an eye. The graphic images of their bodies washed ashore send volcanic shock waves down viewers’ spines.
Jammeh’s government approaches this national saga with the wrong foot. Firstly, the Libyan Head of Mission to the Gambia, Ibrahim Abusheriah lashes out at the West for their “unfair economic policies”. Very easy approach, passing the buck. What he and the Jammeh government failed to admit is they have not put in place realistic and just policies which will curb the wastage of Gambian youth resource. Instead of rushing into seminars with the rural youth telling them to “venture into the productive sectors of the country’s economy such as agriculture”, Jawara Cham-Personal Assistant to Commissioner on Irregular Migration, they should have researched and know the causes of the endemic to effect development, education and create a conducive and sustainable but realistic environment to avert the youths from daring this ominous venture into the unknown
The seminars should have engaged the youths by finding out what is actually driving them into such life wasting ventures and draw policies around their needs but no. What do we see in Basse and Farafenni? In Farafenni, the campaign was spearheaded by the Gambia Immigration Department. Just because it involves travelling, yes the immigration department should deal with it. This is what the Officer Commanding Farafenni Immigration Post, Kebba Jammeh said to the youth, “You can work and become successful here when you take ownership of the available resources in the country”. Nevertheless, OC Jammeh fails to tell the youth what those resources are and how to access them. In Basse, a group of 50 youth relived one Mori Conteh’ experience, “In 2001, I embarked on a terrible journey from The Gambia via Mali but was I forced to return to the country due to the hardship I faced on the way. I saw a mass grave of illegal migrants who died because of hunger. I urge other young people in the country to desist from the practice.” Experience helps us to make informed choices but one cannot make a choice without variables for goodness sake. Ig Jammeh’s government is really serious about averting Gambian youths from venturing the “back way” to Europe in search of greener pasture, it should embark on a serious consultation with youths in each of the administrative regions to find out exactly what is driving out of the once “smiling coast of Africa” in the merciless laws of the unknown and create realistic policies on their needs and aspirations.
A serious government of the people will be accountable and transparent. It will revisit it policies to ensure that reflect and meet the current realities of its people needs. Is the President Award Scheme or the National Youth Service Schemes is the answer to youth unemployment? Certainly not Mr President with many titles. The educational system should be such that it will not only teach students to pass exams but make them resourceful and equip to make the most out of their lives. How about the economic policies? What is it there for the youths in agriculture, fisheries and artisan trade? Stop chasing shadows with the youths and do the right thing, please.