By Landing Ceesay
The National Youth Council (NYC) has rejected the accusations made against them by the Board Chair of the Gambia Youth Chambers of Commerce (GYCC), calling them as “unfounded and untrue.”
“The claim of covering up corruption is unfounded and untrue. The audit exercise conducted never indicated any such allegation/claim. The Audit exercise is not complete, as the final report is yet to be submitted by the Auditor. The audit draft report was presented by the Auditor and the Secretariat has provided a Management Response. The final report is yet to be signed and submitted by the Audit Firm.
“We are willing to share the draft report of the Audit and the contact details of the Auditor to Media Houses upon request for further verification. The draft report never mentioned any mismanagement of any fund, as alleged by Mr Sambou, not to talk of the D4.4 million he highlighted. Therefore, Ismaila should therefore come and substantiate these claims in the Audit Report. The Audit exercise is accompanied by a Management letter which provides explanations of all queries on the management, and the alleged 4.4 million claimed was nowhere to be seen,” NYC said in a statement.
In a statement signed by its Executive Director, Mr. Alhaji Jarju, revealed that in collaboration with the National Enterprise Development Initiative (NEDI) and other stakeholders have consulted with partners of GYCC who provide funding for the management to implement project activities, and none of them complained of project failure, misuse of the fund, or default in the retirement.
NYC stated that in 2016, they took the lead alongside NEDI in establishing GYCC. They appointed Mr. Ismaila Sambou as the Board President and six (6) other members to form an Interim Board, responsible for overseeing the GYCC Secretariat.
The Council emphasized that a primary objective of the Interim Board was to formalize GYCC’s structure and organize an Annual General Meeting (AGM) to conduct an elective congress. This process aimed to establish a fully operational Board accountable to its members, with NYC and NEDI offering guidance in an advisory capacity.
“In December 2022, a member of the interim Board brought a case against Mr. Baboucarr Kebbeh (CEO) of GYCC, alleging misconduct and refusal to adhere to instructions, and brought it to the attention of Mr. Sambou. Mr. Sambou sermon the Board to an emergency meeting and both sides narrated their side of the story. After the said meeting, the majority of the Board members in attendance noted that the said allegations or claims against the CEO were found to be not worthy of suspension.
“Mr. Sambou was not happy with the outcome of the meeting and went ahead to dismiss the Board members that did not agree with the proposal to suspend the CEO and went ahead to do so. One might want to ask where does a Board President Single-handedly has the power to suspend other Board members just through an email. He eventually suspended the CEO without a Board Meeting. Another of his excesses is to write to the Vice president of the interim Board (Mr. Adama Beyai) and serve him a warning letter for requesting a copy of the GYCC constitution through the then legal adviser of the Board (Patience H. Foster),” NYC revealed in a statement.
The National Youth Council (NYC) has stated that Mr. Kebbeh brought the complaints against Ismaila Sambou to them, the National Economic Development Initiative (NEDI), and the Ministry of Trade Regional Integration and Employment (MOTIE). The NYC has also said that they have set up a normalization committee, which will consist of representatives from MOTIE, NEDI, NYSS, and the International Trade Center (ITC).
The Council stated that at their first meeting, they agreed that Mr. Sambou would write a letter to the CEO rescinding his decision to dissolve the Board. They also agreed that he would recall all the Board members to the Board. Additionally, they agreed to conduct regional congresses in all the existing structures (LRR, NBR, CRR, and URR regional chapters) of the Gambia Youth Council (GYCC). They also agreed to conduct an audit of the past six years and to hold a national annual general meeting and congress to elect a new Board.
“The decision to suspend the CEO was thus rescinded, the Regional Congresses were held, although with a late attempt by Mr. Sambou to cancel them unsuccessfully. An Audit Firm was also hired by the GYCC without any outside interference. Whilst all these processes are ongoing, to our dismay, Mr. Sambou went ahead and constituted a Board on his own instead to continuing with the existing Board,” NYC said.
The Council stated that Mr. Sambou was delaying the audit process by withholding the 2018 files containing financial documents. They said they had made several attempts to stop the illegal composition of the new board and to have the files returned, but Mr. Sambou had refused. As a result, the Council had no choice but to dissolve the GYCC board, as dictated by the NYC Act of 2000. The Council emphasized that this was within their mandate as the body mandated by law to register and coordinate all youth activities in the country.
“NYC and NEDI wishes to assure the general public and all stakeholders that we will never condone or cover-up any form of corruption or malpractice by any of our structures or organizations that we coordinate,” NYC said in a statement