Africa-Press – Gambia. President Adama Barrow delivered the 2023 legislative State of the Nation Address (SONA) at the National Assembly complex in the capital Banjul on June 8. He outlined major achievements, setbacks, plans and legislative matters of direct importance to the parliament.
Gambian President Adama Barrow has called for community cohesion and unity among government branches, highlighting that regardless of political views, faiths and other differences people “must unite as a nation to realize their national targets.”
“The core mandates of the executive, the legislature, and the judiciary are interlocked and require that we work together in harmony. No person is an island and no unit in an interlinked structure can function in isolation,” the president stressed during his SONA.
He further elaborated that once all the government branches have a common goal, which is the development and progress of the people they serve, there will always be the need to work as one mechanism and thus contribute to the nation’s prosperity.
In his address, Barrow touched upon various other topics to which his administration gives sustained attention and priority. Among them, he highlighted infrastructure development, digitization, food security, healthcare, employment, as well as empowerment of vulnerable groups, including women, and the youth.
While providing detailed information on the government’s policies and activities for the 2023 legislative year, he recalled that the National Employment Policy and Action Plan (NEAP) for 2022-2027 had been launched. Apart from that, the National Employment Technical Committee had been established. According to the president, these initiatives reflect his government’s aspirations aimed at addressing the plight of Gambian youths and eradicating poverty.
“These demonstrate commitment at the highest level of government to address unemployment and underemployment and, by extension, poverty. The policy targets creating at least 150,000 jobs in five years,” he said.
The president reflected on the past year’s incidents, noting that 2022 was “eventful, particularly for the legislature.” He recalled the most tragic events of the year, referring to “the loss of a Vice President, seventy innocent children, and other dear citizens.”
Barrow further stated that the nation managed to successfully address both national and international challenges, praising the parliament’s and his administration’s “remarkable achievements in various aspects of nation-building.” In particular, he pointed out that the government engaged in reforms, including enactment of new laws, such as the 2018 Central Bank Act, the Access to Information Law 2021, and the Public Procurement Act 2022.
He reiterated that the government’s “focus will strategically be on the people in order to build on our achievements.”
Besides the bills passed, the president mentioned those to be tabled in parliament by cabinet ministers, and bills, which are being reviewed. Some of the documents under review include the Terms and Conditions of Service for Officers and Soldiers, and the Gambia Armed Forces Bill.
Talking about the defense sector, Barrow noted that the government, with support from international partners, has received military vehicles and other specialized equipment necessary for peacekeeping and daily military operations, “especially along the border.”