By Mustapha Sesay
The Centre for Coordination of Youth Activities (CCYA) has engaged youth groups from the 14 districts across the country in a one-day dialogue forum aimed at contributing to the ongoing constitutional review process.
Ngolo Katta, Executive Director of CCYA, said at the conference held at the conference hall of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) that one of his organization`s critical objectives was to engage youth to be part of nation building.
“We have partners that are helping us to proffer young people interest in nation building, from Districts Youth Council, to other youth organization including disable youth groups to go through the processes that will help move the country forward.” Katta said.
He said it was clear that the youth wanted their interest protected in the constitution and that they wanted more investment in the area of education and to have good employment opportunities. He noted that as an organization they want to ensure that these desires were reflected in the ongoing constitutional review processes.
Katta said they were going to come out with a position paper and set up a committee that would liaise with the constitutional review committee (CRC) and that they were also going to ensure that whatever decision was made reflected the view of young people across the country and put them in an informed position so that when it came to referendum, “they would clearly speak in protecting their interest.”
“It is a golden opportunity. We are go to make use of it.” The CCYA boss said
Prince Ibrahim Tholley, Chairman National Youth Council (NYC) said the contributions made by youths in the area of volunteering and handling other responsibilities during the outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) proved wrong those who think youths were irresponsible and inexperienced. He said employers have been using “inexperience” as a formula not to give job to young people.
Tholley said youth unemployment remained a challenge and that it was making the youth vulnerable to terrorist organizations like Boko haram.
“What will happen to the young people in the coming years should be determined today in our constitution, and if this country needs to move forward we (youth) have to be in the driving seat of the affairs of the country,” Tholley said.
Aminata Lamin, Actionaid Sierra Leone governance advisor, pointed out that youths were left out in decision making and that they needed to be proactive in order to occupy their position in society.
Madam Lamin told the youths that constitutional review process was a unique time for them to take a holistic look at the constitution because every aspect of it in one way or other affect them.
“Make sure your voices are heard and ensure you do a thorough job. We will work with you to know the issues in the constitution that affect you,” she told the gathering.
The Actionaid governance advisor went on to say that the youth have enough power to put duty bearers on their toes to do the right things by being accountable and that the constitution was one way to engage in such activity.
“Your role is to ask and hold government responsible for its actions and continue to ensure that you follow the process. You need to match what is giving with what you have asked and you also need to look at the whole process with youthful lens,” she said.
Aminata Sillah, Deputy National Youth Commissioner, pointed at unemployment as one of the key issues that was affecting the youth sector. She said youths were again marginalized in the political climate in the country.
(C) Politico 01/09/15