By Mamour M. Mbenga
The youths of Njawara Village in Lower Baddibu District, on Thursday, 17 March, 2016 held a general meeting in which they called for a change in the leadership of the Village Development Committee (VDC).
But as the youth explained their point of view at the meeting, they were interrupted by VDC members and the meeting ended without resolution of their differences.
The meeting was held at the Village Bantaba and it brought together elders of the village, youth, children and women.
The President of the Njawara Youth Development Society, Mr. Modou Nying who led the organisation and mobilisation of the Njawara Youth Task Force Committee explained their point of view to Foroyaa. He said the meeting was called to get the current leadership of the VDC to step down; dissolve the Njawara Agricultural Training Centre (N.A.T.C.) Board and remove the N.A.T.C. director from office.
Mr. Nying argued that the VDC constitution states the term limit for VDC chairmanship is for a period of two years while the current VDC chairman has been in that position since 2005. He also accused the VDC leadership of mismanaging some of the village projects and failing to fulfill their promises to the villagers.
According to Nying, the NATC was established in 1990 by the youths of the village in order to promote development through training workshops and job creation.
“The youths of Njawara village are not benefiting from any of the village projects given to the village. Many projects were given to us but due to lack of good management they have failed,’’ he said.
Nying finally stated that their village needs a new VDC that will control and manage the village affairs especially the Njawara cultural camp, a tourist attraction which is no longer functioning; the Njawara Primary School and Njawara Agricultural Training Centre (NATC). The youth president also urges the authorities that are responsible for VDC affairs to intervene in the situation.
Mr. Ebou Njie, former VDC Chairman told Foroyaa that the current situation of Njawara village is getting worse and that most of Njawara’s youth have joined the illegal migration to Europe. He said Njawara is blessed with the best part of River Gambia called the Miniminiam Bolong which they can use for fishing and farming on the fertile river banks. According to Mr. Njie, there are many developments that the youth of Njawara can engage themselves in while staying in the village.
He opined that the NATC should not operate independently but under the control of the VDC. “The youth of Njawara are really disillusioned with the current situation,” Njie said. He finally urged the authorities to control the current situation in the village.
The current VDC chairman Mr. Abdoulie Barry, reacting to the claim made by the youth that the current VDC should be dissolved said, “I was elected as VDC chairman of Njawara village since 2005 by the council of elders and none of them was part of the youth task force who seek the dissolution of the current VDC. I was not elected by the youth but the village elders, I’m not unwilling to step down from chairmanship but there is a way to do it’’.
According to Barry, there are lots of social activities and projects organised and managed by the current VDC which the villagers have benefited from.
Chairman Barry acknowledged that he does not know how the NATC board controls and manages their projects.
Mr. Barry expressed his disappointment in the village youth for organising a task force that is asking them to step down. Barry finally concluded that the development of Njawara village is always the main concern of the current VDC.
Pa Panneh the acting village Alkalo, who is also part of the current VDC, at the meeting, advised the youth to work collectively with the current VDC in developing Njawara village and its people rather than organizing a youth task force which he considered to be promoting divide and rule.
“I am the current acting alkalo representing my mother’s seat, Aji Haddy Panneh who is currently in poor health. We the current VDC have worked hard in all aspects of village development activities, reforming a new VDC board is not the issue but how we can develop the village and its people,” said the Alkalo. He also urged the villagers to unite and support the best interest of the village.
The Imam of Njawara Village, Samba Jallow, also the treasurer of the VDC told villagers at the meeting to work collectively with the council of elders in promoting peace and unity.
One of the eldest men in the council of elders of the village, Papa Ablie Nying, urged the youth and the current VDC to unite and work collectively to solve the problems of the village and bring the people together for the development of the village and its people.
Another member of the council of elders who is one of the core founders of Njawara youth club in his late 80’s, Batch Samba Njie, also a retired agricultural extension worker briefly told Foroyaa the reason why the NATC was established.
He said it was established in 1990 and funded by a Swedish philanthropist in the sum of D73,000. This was given to the villagers for the construction of a local well for clean water supply, boreholes, solar electricity supply and food security through rice field rehabilitation, bee keeping, horticulture, amongst others.