Africa-Press – Gambia. Excellency, the Vice President, Your Excellencies, the First Lady, Fatou Bah-Barrow and Madam Sarjo Mballow-Barrow, Your Excellencies, Colleague Heads of State,
Former Vice Presidents present, Honourable Speaker of the National Assembly, My Lord, the Chief Justice, Honourable Members of Cabinet and the National Assembly,
Lord Mayors of Banjul and Kanifing Municipality, Members of the Diplomatic and Consular Corps, Representatives of International Organisations and Partners,
Political Party Leaders and Executive Members Government Officials and Service Chiefs, Regional Governors, Community and Venerable Religious Leaders, Civil Society Organisations, Distinguished Personalities, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Members of the MediaIn appreciation, My Lord, the Chief Justice of The Gambia, I thank you solemnly for administering the Oath of Office for the President of The Republic of The Gambia for the next five years.
Having been sworn in, I also thank the Almighty God, with due devotion, for His mercies and bounties, and I pray for His guidance, help and protection as we execute our various functions.
Today is a red-letter day in the annals of The Gambia, and this is a defining moment in the country’s evolution as a democratic nation. It is a moment of victory for the people of this blessed land, and there is every reason for us to celebrate.
Before proceeding, I recognise, with gratitude, the presence of Their Excellencies, Heads of State and Government from the ECOWAS Sub-region and the wider African continent. Also present, with deep appreciation, are leaders of friendly countries and development partner organisations and institutions.
Excellencies, on behalf of the entire Gambian nation, I welcome you most heartily and thank you profoundly for honouring our invitation to be with us today. It is a gesture we value and will always cherish in our hearts.
Excellencies, Distinguished Personalities, Ladies and Gentlemen, It is clear that without the massive voter turnout for the 4th December 2021 Presidential Election and the equally massive support for me, this occasion would not be what it is today.
Officially, The Gambia Independent Electoral Commission declared that there was a voter turnout of about 90%, while over one thousand, five hundred Independent Observers participated in the electoral process and declared the election free, fair, transparent, and credible.
I acknowledge, with great appreciation and humility, the strong confidence bestowed upon me, my party, the National People’s Party (NPP), and all the formidable coalition partners that worked with us.
Today, we can comfortably conclude that my re-election for another five years is a vote of confidence in my government, a vote of acknowledgement of my achievements, a vote of endorsement of the path we have undertaken to follow, and a vote of acceptance of the democratic principles and values we stand for.
It is also a vote of appreciation of who we are as a people and how we have branded ourselves, as well as a vote of willingness of the people to come together and work together to pursue our dreams and aspirations. In short, it is a vote of hope and reassurance, a rejection of division and oppression, and a new legitimate mandate for me as President and Head of State of the Republic of The Gambia.
Excellencies, Distinguished Personalities, Ladies and Gentlemen, Many friends of The Gambia, development partners and well-wishers, both within the country and outside, supported our development efforts over the years, particularly from 2017 to date.
The contributions of such goodwill partners, friends, neighbours, and collaborators during our transition period facilitated our political, social and economic development achievements. We remain grateful to every one of them, and reassure them of our commitment to strengthen the ties that bind us.
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, Despite the global COVID-19 pandemic and the socio-economic situation of the country in 2017, our achievements over the last five years make it abundantly clear that there is a lot more we can offer this blessed nation.
Proceeding from the transition phase, The Gambia will now need a new development model and new operational frameworks, with our development priorities set against suitable timelines for implementation. Vigorous resource mobilisation strategies have to be detailed out, and investments made strictly for desired results.
Excellencies, Distinguished Personalities, Ladies and Gentlemen, In outlining my government’s development priorities for the next five years, infrastructure, energy and technology have to be at the core of our development efforts, not as ends in themselves, but a means to attaining our development targets.
Over the past three years, we made remarkable achievements in infrastructure development. To cite examples, while most of the construction works of the targeted eight hundred-kilometre (800 km) Primary Road Network, on the North and South Banks, have been completed, work is progressing on the remaining lot.
My administration also constructed essential bridges, totalling 2.3 kilometres in various parts of the country. These include the famous Senegambia Bridge and the new ones in the Upper River Region.
Our development orientation will continue to be people-centred, people-driven, inclusive, and wisely targeted for progress, growth, and stability. As I promised, our target for the next five years is to construct one thousand, two hundred kilometres (1200 Km) of quality roads.
Similar to infrastructure development, within the last three years, my government implemented multiple life-changing energy projects, and now provide electricity to additional scores of communities in various regions.
With the Soma sub-station and other energyYour -generating points, we have the potential to attain universal access to electricity in the country during the next five years. This is our target, and nothing less.
As regards social service delivery, although we registered huge successes in the critical areas of Agriculture, Education and Health, we are aware that a lot more needs to be done.
We pride ourselves, nonetheless, for the bold steps taken to mechanize agriculture, leading to the distribution of farm inputs and labour-saving devices, such as tractors, heavy-duty machinery and equipment.
The target for the new government is rice self-sufficiency and food security for all. To maintain this, we will have to open up industries, upgrade the country’s technology status, and process our produce, while creating jobs in the country.
Relatedly, the number of people trained, facilities constructed and other significant achievements in the education sector are correspondingly matched by the tremendous strengthening of the health sector through record investments.
The community ambulances distributed recently were well received country-wide. In addition, the health centres upgraded and the new facilities provided in areas that, until now, were considered remote and deprived, have also gone down very well across the country. All these make us bolder to set much higher targets for the next five years.
Excellencies, Distinguished Personalities, Ladies and Gentlemen, The level of economic growth realised during these trying years and the economic measures adopted have helped to put the country in a viable position to generate national income to fund major projects without seeking support elsewhere.
It is obvious, however, that the economy, businesses, and livelihoods must be protected further and reinforced to result in better development trends and maintain a productive and peaceful population.
I am happy to report that by December 2021, sixty percent (60%) of the 2018-2021 National Development Plan (NDP) activities were either successfully conducted or on track for completion. Out of the pledges made in Brussels, 41.9 percent has been disbursed so far.
Following the expiry of Vision 2020, the development of a new long-term development plan, Vision 2050, is in progress. The new Vision will take on board the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, the Agenda 2063, and the country’s long-term climate change vision and strategy.
Our future plans include the formulation of a Green Recovery Focused NDP, 2023-2027 to succeed the 2018-2021 NDP. To boost the income generating sectors and institutions, such as tourism and fisheries, the potential for growth must be tapped optimally to support new development initiatives. I encourage the youths to take up the wide range of opportunities put at their disposal.
It is certain that efforts would be wasted in the absence of peace, security and stability. For this reason, the Ministry of Defence and The Gambia Armed Forces were restructured lately as part of the reforms to raise their efficiency levels.
As part of these ongoing security sector reforms, we now have a National Security Policy, National Security Strategy, Security Sector Reform Strategy and a Defence Policy. These policies and strategies are meant to consolidate the gains registered as a result of the Security Sector Reform. Excellencies, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
Good governance, transitional justice, rights, freedoms and the rule of law are matters of great importance to us. My government recognises justice as an essential component of good governance, since it fosters participation, transparency, and accountability, while preserving the rule of law. As such, the Law will continue to guide whatever we do.
As reported widely, The Gambia Truth Reconciliation and Reparation Commission completed its work and submitted its report last month. The report is being studied carefully for appropriate action.
To break the deadlock surrounding the draft Constitution, the new government will work towards building consensus for the establishment of a new Republican Constitution. We advise all stakeholders to be open-minded for this to succeed.
Excellencies, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, Our Foreign policy is now robust and fruitful enough to build on. The Gambia has regained her position in the international community, and we have successfully expanded friendship and cooperation around the world.
We will pursue this with vigour, beginning with our friends and neighbours in the sub-region and the African continent. In particular, ECOWAS provides a platform for dialogue, cooperation, joint ventures and collaboration on regional and global matters.
We are greatly indebted to ECOWAS for standing by us, providing the most needed support, most especially during and after the 2016 political impasse. Their guidance and support to establish and maintain peace and stability during our transition programme contributed to the successful conduct of the last Presidential Election.
The presence of ECOMIG signifies the relevance and competence of ECOWAS as a regional body. Therefore, we pay immense tribute to the leaders of this great Organisation, past and present, for their impressive contribution to the welfare of our peoples. Without the continuous backing of ECOWAS, the pace of our transition would have been hindered.
As party to the AfCFTA, The Gambia recently formulated a National Implementation Strategy to operationalise this regional Agreement in The Gambia. Beyond this, we look forward to the OIC Summit with enthusiasm and high hopes of success. All these commitments will help us to deepen our bilateral and multilateral relations across the globe.
With the facilities and infrastructure development in progress, the tourism sector stands to benefit hugely from such events. This notwithstanding, tourism will be diversified, with innovative options explored for expansion. Excellencies, Distinguished Personalities, Ladies and Gentlemen,
The 2019 fifty percent (50%) salary increment across the public service and one hundred percent (100%) increment for pensioners was based on sound economic analyses. The need to improve our remuneration packages still holds good, and this will be done by mid-2022.
The expected results are better service delivery, job satisfaction, staff retention, better conditions of service and a performing Civil Service of respectable professionals.
On service to the nation, strict emphasis will be put on merit, performance and results. These will be the underlying principles and values for the Civil Service.
Excellencies, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, In 2016, our objective was to liberate the people from oppression and injustice. It was a call for change, and, indeed, change has come about.
Today, The Gambia of the past has given way to a new democratic Gambia, where every citizen is equal before the law. The independence of the Judiciary is unquestionable, and Gambians have confidence in our judicial system. This is what the people fought for, and this is what they have chosen to sustain. Excellencies, Distinguished Personalities, Fellow Gambians and Friends of The Gambia,
The transition period, 2017 to 2021, has been a tremendous success, regardless of the shortfalls and obstacles encountered along the way. We have realised growth in our economy, increased infrastructural development, enhanced the policy environment, and evenly set the pace for our democratic institutions to be efficiently viable and effective.
2022 to 2027 is a period to press on for accelerated growth, expansion and advancement. The focus now centres on economic development and independence, social upliftment, service to nation, and the projection and protection of the Gambian identity and dignity.
Fellow Gambians, As we march on, our conscience, belief in God, sense of social justice and our characteristics and values as Gambians should define our relationships, devotion to duty and attachment to the nation.
I believe that human life and human dignity must come first. Thus, I see our electoral constituencies not as mere physical boundaries for election purposes, but as social constituencies composed of various categories of people. Key among them are the youths, the women, the elderly, and the vulnerable, including the mentally and physically challenged.
These categories of people received due attention in the past five years, and this will be stepped up. In this regard, the new Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Welfare will intensify efforts to complement other relevant programmes and interventions.
Focusing on the youths and women, I am proud to observe that, through the Tekki Fii Programme and the Youth Empowerment Project, and with support from the European Union, the Government successfully created more than five thousand (5,000) jobs and supported eight hundred (800) small businesses. We will increase such interventions.
Through the Ministry of Youth and Sports and the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Regional Integration and their satellite institutions and partners, we will create wider opportunities for more youths and women.
Youth unemployment, migration, women empowerment, inclusive education and training are major concerns for my government. Together with the private sector, we will scale up efforts to address them more effectively. Excellencies, Fellow Gambians and Friends of The Gambia,
Based on first-hand experience, I am fully aware that the tasks that lie ahead are many, complicated, and difficult to tackle. Each of our sectors has huge gaps to fill. We will harness our resources, build our knowledge and technology capabilities with the relevant skills and competencies to energise our development efforts.
I believe strongly that with better quality education, our institutions will impact the lives of the citizens more significantly, address the technology requirements for our agriculture sector, and will be more impactful in the fight to eradicate the poverty levels across the country.
Working together, we can foster understanding and attain our development goals in the mutual interest of the people. I am convinced that there is nothing a people cannot attain if they unite and have a common will to succeed. The potential that lies in our human resource is massive and offers a source of optimism, courage and determination to succeed.
Excellencies, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, As President of the Republic of The Gambia, I have committed myself, under oath, to honour, preserve and uphold the Constitution of the Republic and to serve The Gambia devotedly.
As we embark on the mission of achieving a more progressive Gambia in the next five years, I pledge to put more emphasis on uplifting the status of all Gambians, especially the under-privileged and vulnerable Gambians in underserved communities. Under my administration, we shall ensure that development is duly distributed within all the regions of the country.
It is misleading, however, to believe that the Government alone can ensure the rapid transformation of The Gambia. The tasks ahead require the collective, decisive and positive participation of all Gambians, irrespective of ethnic or political affiliation, gender, or religion. As Gambians, let us embrace the culture of peace and peaceful coexistence as one Gambian family for our betterment and for those unborn.
I must seize this opportunity to commend and pay tribute to all the other political contenders for their sense of patriotism and love for country. I call on them and their supporters to close ranks with us and work collectively with my administration for the progress and development of our beloved nation. No sector, institution or segment of our society will be left out of the development process.
To achieve this, I will lead as President of all Gambians and form a Cabinet that will work to heal the nation, create avenues for reconciliation, tap the talent and capacity of all Gambian nationals, and accommodate diversity for sustained peace and stability.
Excellencies, Distinguished Guests, Fellow Gambians and Friends of The Gambia, At this juncture, I convey gratitude and congratulations to the entire NPP membership and to the coalition party leaders and members for our hard-fought victory.
With profound humility too, I extend very special appreciation to the people, particularly the women and youths. Without their participation, our victory would have been very difficult to achieve.
By extension, I thank all partners, philanthropists, friends, supporters, well-wishers and the international community for their support, morally and financially. Together with my family, I thank you all from the depth of my heart, and pray that God bless us all. Long live The Gambia!
Long Live the ECOWAS Community and African Solidarity! Long live Global Peace and Cooperation!