President Barrow’s independence address to the nation

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Your Excellency, the First Lady, Fatou Bah-Barrow

Your Excellency, Madam Sarjo Mballow-Barrow

Your Excellency, the Vice President,

Madam Speaker,

My Lord, the Chief Justice,

Secretary General and Head of the Civil Service

Honourable Cabinet Members,

Honorable Members of the National Assembly,

Lord Mayor of Banjul,

Venerable Religious Leaders,

Service Chiefs,

Members of the Diplomatic and Consular Corps,

Voluntary Organizations, School children, Teachers and Parents,

Members of the Media,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Today marks the 54th Anniversary of the day that ushered our beloved motherland into the world community as a sovereign nation. While it is a day of celebration and jubilation, this auspicious occasion accords the nation the opportunity to take stock of our successes, challenges and progress since the attainment of nationhood. The National Day also provides an opportunity to hold the Government in office accountable to the people.

Independence carries multiple meanings and significance for us as a nation. It is not simply about self-rule and freedom from foreign domination; most importantly, it is about freedom of thought and action, leading to our growth and progress as individuals, families, communities, organisations and as a nation.

We have now come to realize and appreciate that true Independence means freedom to set up and work through strong and functional institutions run by competent, sincere and efficient personnel. Gambians have come to appreciate further that nationhood or sovereignty should be matched by economic independence and the capacity to generate resources and funds for investment and judicious spending. We have learnt also that Independence rests on working with responsible leadership that allows for diversity, choice and acting on correct decisions.

The underlying objective is for all citizens to engage in nation building as a united force. This is the environment that my government has now created for Gambians.

As patriots and good citizens, I urge you to build on these gains and allow the nation to develop.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Boys and Girls,

To be patriotic citizens contributing effectively to nation building, it is vital to undertake or engage in independent, critical and constructive thought and action, grounded in sincerity, honesty and the desire to improve living conditions in the country.

The reclamation of our freedom should equip us to redefine nationhood and patriotism as genuine Gambian nationals. We must love our nation, and sacrifice in times of need and distress. To this end, we must redefine and embrace nationalism to give it a humane character.

This means rejecting all forms of socio-political discrimination and extremism disguised as nationalism.  On the other hand, it is essential to develop a deep sense of belonging to our motherland, and commit ourselves to the ideals and values of the nation. We have proven that when we stand united in the cause of the nation, we can achieve a lot.

Fellow Gambians,

I advise that we continue to demonstrate patriotic citizenship through constructive action and service at all times. Let us express our political awareness and maturity by manifesting a high degree of civic responsibility, and by projecting the image and true value and honour of the typical Gambian through our shared values.

Guided by the principles of good governance and true democracy, it is our responsibility to unite and exploit our individual and collective potential and strengths.  In addition, let us harness all available resources for national development.

Fellow Gambians, my government is proud of the multitude of successes registered so far.  Together with all patriotic citizens, friends and partners, we are proud of developments in various areas. These include successes in the areas of legislation, infrastructure development, transitional justice, institutional reform, setting up structures and developing instruments, as evidenced by the National Development Plan (2018-2021) and the Constitutional review and development process.

The Gambian economy has been stabilized, and we are optimistic that it will continue to grow steadily.

Also, amongst the progress registered are the recently launched roads and bridges projects in the Upper River and North Bank Regions. Higher learning institutions, such as The Gambia College twin projects, and health infrastructures are being decentralised to promote inclusive development for all. Working with partners, the education sector is building modern classrooms in various parts of the country to make the learning environment more conducive and accessible. Inroads made within the water and energy sectors are also evident cases in point.

Fellow Gambians,

We are heartened by the headway made in policy formulation, especially as regards foreign policy. The world has opened up to us through mutually rewarding bilateral and multilateral relations and agreements.

To ensure that lives and livelihoods improve meaningfully for every citizen, my Government has been persistent in seeking means of reducing the cost of living. Efforts aimed at stabilizing prices, reducing taxes and stimulating investment are typical examples.

All Gambians can confirm that my Administration has succeeded in stabilizing the country politically, hence the vibrant political atmosphere in the country. The Commissions set up by Government are progressing smoothly to establish the truth, build trust, ensure social cohesion and forge cooperation across all segments of Gambian society.

This is a period of tactful fact-finding initiatives and engagement in national dialogue, reconciliation, reaching out, healing wounds and mending damages. It is a period of constructive planning and building a solid foundation to ensure durable interventions and results for a brighter future for all.

As an independent nation, our borders are safer than ever before, and personal safety is no longer the threat it was perceived to be. Gambians have a voice once again, as characteristic of all free and independent people. We must jealously guard this liberty.

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

Boys and Girls,

This year is a turning point for the better, and it requires that we further muster courage, confidence and hope. It is a moment of opportunity to harness the potential of our returnees and the Gambian Diaspora.

My Government is working hard to put in place strong and sustainable institutions and structures. Noting that all citizens have a collective duty to perform without hesitation and without any artificial hindrance, let us ensure popular participation in national development.

Amidst the optimism, it is necessary to continue to work hard to protect lives and property, strengthen our institutions, develop positive mindsets and establish frameworks and procedures for sustainable development. As the dictum goes, “Rome was not built in a day.” This applies to all nations, and The Gambia is no exception. Therefore, as Gambians, we have to learn to be patient, realistic and positive. There must be the required resolve, determination and commitment for us to succeed in bringing about the desired change in our welfare.

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

I have no exclusion strategy based on political, social or any other type of affiliation. As a government, we have demonstrated our willingness to consult, listen, involve everyone and act on correct advice and knowledge.

We have shown strong leadership by consulting where prudent; by making appropriate decisions in all relevant circumstances; and by taking necessary action where required.

I ask, therefore, that you evaluate Government’s performance in relation to the resources and circumstances that exist. We are committed to  implementing the National Development Plan in partnership with all sectors of society.

In earnest, my government, through its Ministries, Departments and Agencies, has already kick-started the procedural requirements to implement the NDP projects in the areas of agriculture, youth empowerment, institutional reforms, energy transmission and distribution, amongst others.

Furthermore, Government has created an enabling environment for public-private partnership, and is set on high gear to host the Organisation of Islamic Conference later this year.

I assure you all that we will never abandon any of our responsibilities. In consequence, be reassured of the political will, political commitment and political resolve of my Government to develop the nation.

With determination, we will succeed in bridging the economic, political and social gaps across all communities. The reality is that we have to act and spend within means, as determined by the resources available and their judicious allocation.

Unfortunately, sabotage and destruction of water equipment reveal the extent to which subversive elements and enemies of the nation can go to undermine efforts and discredit my government. This calls for vigilance to ensure that vandals and saboteurs do not succeed in any way.

In contrast, with much humility, I am touched by the immense support given to me and my government by individuals, organizations and friendly nations.

On behalf of all of us, therefore, I thank all friends and supporters for their contribution to the welfare of the people.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Boys and Girls,

I am impressed by the elegance and the splendid performance of the security forces, the school children, voluntary organizations, cultural groups, parents and all those who have turned out to participate in or attend this event.

In particular, I encourage you, the school children, to focus on your schoolwork, and work hard with discipline. Remember that someday you will be called upon to run the affairs of this nation.

I am grateful to all those serving, or have served, on any of the Commissions and other structures established by the Government. We appreciate your work most sincerely.

With similar sentiments, I thank all public servants, civil society organizations, the private sector, the international community and all non-Gambian nationals who continue to support or complement our develop efforts. Special recognition is accorded the Gambian Diaspora, for despite the distance, their hearts are with us. Indeed, I appreciate all acts of patriotism, and I pray that God continues to bless us.

I thank you all.

 

 

2019-02-18T14:59:26+00:00

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