President Adama Barrow of the Gambia has used his televised New Year’s address to appeal to Gambians to renew their commitment to working as a nation for accelerated development, using vigorous processes and procedures to ensure that there is justice for all.
The president said Gambian democracy is now vibrant, and all citizens are at liberty to express themselves freely within the framework of the law.
He added that there are no political prisoners in any Gambian prison, and no media house has closed down due to government interference.
Below we reproduced the full text of president’s speech.
Fellow Gambians, Residents and Friends of The Gambia,
Time certainly flies, especially when there are lots of urgent matters to handle. All so soon, 2021 will end shortly, leaving us with mixed feelings.
As we usher in 2022, it is proper that we give thanks and praise to the Lord for His grace and bounties and, by the same token, pray for the departed souls and ask for their deliverance.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Like 2016, 2021 will go down in the history of The Gambia as a dramatically significant year.
Looking back, the year began with the prolonged calamities of the Coronavirus, which affected all sectors and hindered the full implementation of our development programmes.
Although this is a global trend, we thankfully appreciate that The Gambia is not as badly hit as many other countries, including the most developed ones.
Our determination as a people and focus as a government fortified our resilience and helped us to live with the pandemic. We thank God for this.
Another incident of the year, worth mentioning, is the unfortunate July 7th windstorm that led to loss of lives and left many people devastated, most notably in the North Bank Region and the Kombos.
Obviously, therefore, 2021 was not all rosy. This notwithstanding, we registered remarkable achievements across all sectors.
Chiefly, the year provided opportunities to strengthen our bilateral and multilateral cooperation. The support and collaboration from our regional and international partners are significant and invaluable. Through such partnerships, we immensely strengthened our socio-economic and political advancement.
Generally, Government did exceedingly well during the year in the key areas of infrastructure development, energy generation, agriculture, governance, institutional strengthening and provision of cash and in-kind support.
In addition, we boosted the education and health sectors in an unprecedented fashion. On the other hand, the people stepped up political activity and participation, and manifested their civic responsibilities and civil rights with passion.
Our democracy is now vibrant, and all citizens are at liberty to express themselves freely within the framework of the law. The Government is proud to observe that there are no political prisoners in any Gambian prison, and no media house has closed down due to government interference.
That over one thousand Election Observers from different parts of the world, including former Heads of State and high-profile personalities, witnessed the last Presidential Election, attests to the high degree of transparency in the electoral process.
The Election Observer reports validate our democracy and transparency. They also confirm that, with the voter turnout of about 90%, the vast majority of Gambian voters have renewed their confidence in my government.
I remain indebted to all voters and stakeholders for the orderly conduct of the election. Together, we have made The Gambia a model of democracy in Africa and the world over. The task at hand is to sustain it for good.
Such successes should motivate us to aim higher. The days ahead provide opportunities for all of us to explore as a nation and as family units and individuals.
Officially, today marks the end of our three-year National Development Plan 2018-2021, and it signals the end of our five-year, 2017-2022, political transition phase; however, the hard work continues.
We look forward to 2022 with great optimism and zeal. During the last four years, various reforms, policies and strategies were successfully initiated.
A few others are nearing completion. I assure you that the Government is now better placed for bigger successes.
Forging ahead, we will intensively pursue an all-round national development drive, marked by massive infrastructure development. We have funding for this.
With it, we will address the key challenges undermining the provision of social services, and work towards easing life and securing livelihoods, especially for residents in the rural area.
With reference to our national calendar, we look forward to the 2022 OIC summit with great optimism, hopeful that the relevant development projects will be completed on time.
Among other events, the National Assembly Elections and the subsequent Local Government Elections, are not far off. We pray that they go well.
To adequately motivate public servants for improved performance and output, there is a new salary package proposed for implementation later in the year. All these make 2022 another crucial year.
Fellow Gambians, Residents and Friends of The Gambia,
Our achievements would not be possible without the support of my Cabinet and the partnerships with the other arms of government, the Legislature and the Judiciary. I thank them and all public institutions, Government Ministries, Departments, Agencies and the Private Sector for their service and contribution to the nation. On a similar note, I applaud the international community and our partners for their cooperation and support to the nation.
I recognise the role of the Media and Civil Society Organisations in guiding the Government. We acknowledge that constructive criticism is essential in maintaining a democracy, once the intention is honest.
We equally appreciate our religious and community leaders for their untiring efforts to bring our communities together.
To all political leaders and supporters, I reiterate the point that, despite the divergent routes we opt to follow, we are bound by the common desire for national development, peace and prosperity. Let us unite the people, and avoid tearing the nation apart.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The high voter turnout in the December 4th Election is not without high expectations from the electorate. Peace, stability, reconciliation, justice, and socio-economic and political development are particularly of general concern. As a result, we must work together to fulfil these expectations.
I plead that we renew our commitment to working as a nation for accelerated development, using vigorous processes and procedures to ensure that there is justice for all.
Together, we can make 2022 a fulfilling year of progress, love and reconciliation by embracing our cultural differences, celebrating our citizenship as Gambians and making the most of our resources.
I reassure everyone that my government will remain nationally inclusive, purely democratic and practically development-oriented, but realistic. With the resources put at our disposal, the concerns, needs, aspirations, and welfare of the people will dictate our agenda. We will not fail the people, and we ask that you remain by our side, trusting that, working collectively, we will succeed way beyond expectations.
With this reassurance, I wish you all a very Happy and Prosperous Year.
Long live The Republic of The Gambia!
God bless us all!