Liberia: House of Reps. Demands Plan to Get Young People off the Streets; Summons Youth and Sports Minister
Capitol Hill, Monrovia – Youth and Sports Minister Zeogar Wilson has been summoned by the House of Representatives to apprise plenary with plans and programs the ministry has put in place to help get young people off the streets.
The House’s decision was triggered by a communication from Rep. Johnson N. Gwaikolo (District #9, Nimba County) drawing plenary’s attention to the ‘troubling condition’ of a large population of young people roaming the streets across the country and getting involved with harmful practices including substance abuse.
Rep. Gwaikolo said because Liberia is a youthful nation with a large number of young people, it was incumbent upon relevant stakeholders to adequately prepare the youth to take on the mantle of leadership for tomorrow. However, he lamented that it is not being the case.
“… unfortunately, there appears to be a disconnect between what is envisaged of youth preparation and practical steps to achieve such preparation,” he said.
“This is evidenced by large number of young people idling in the communities without engaging in purposeful activities. The incidence of the Coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated the situation that more young people are out doing illicit things, thus strengthening the adage an idle ‘mind is the devil’s workshop’.”
He concluded his communication by praying on his colleagues to grant his request to invite Minister Wilson, whose ministry is the lead agency of government in the endeavor to serve as a catalyst in promoting activities that filter to youth development.
Following a brief deliberations of Rep. Gwaikolo’s concerns, the plenary, voted in favor of Bong County’s Rep. Moima Briggs Mensah’s motion which called for the appearance of the Youth and Sports Minister on Thursday, September 17, 2020.
Meanwhile, in an interview with reporters at his Capitol building office after session, Rep. Gwaikolo said the spiraling number of disadvantaged youth in every major city and town in Liberia was troubling.
The country, he said, stands the risk if nothing is done to address the situation, and called for a collective effort in finding a control mechanism.
“You see street people just moving aimlessly, this create a situation where young people run the risk of inadequate preparation to take over the mantle of leadership in our society tomorrow.
“So, it is in this regard that we are calling on the Minister of Youth of Sports to come and discuss with us what his ministry has so as to intervene into the lives of the young people. It is disturbing, it is troubling and I believe that all of us, particularly the agency that is responsible to regulate the activities of the young people to come and have a discussion with us to see where they are in their intervention.”
When asked, what could be some concrete recommendations, Rep. Gwaikolo, who chairs the House Committee on Education called for an organized systematic approach in attending to disadvantaged youth by expanding the Ministry of Youth and Sports’ existing TVET program to benefit more disadvantaged young people, and instituting after-school programs such as recreational activities for young people.