Adama Barrow in launching the national development plan at the State House
yesterday has renewed calls for national unity.
“During the difficult days [last year], we were stronger as a nation because we were united… we were stronger because the people were behind the coalition; the European Union, ECOWAS, United Nations and African Union were behind the coalition. That unity must be maintained if we are to make a headway as a nation,” President Barrow said.
The President reminded the gathering that his government inherited serious challenges, the most urgent of which was the frustrations and lack of opportunities for young people.
“This has driven thousands of our young people to undertake the risky journey, across the Mediterranean Sea in search of a better future. Similarly, many of our able and distinguished sons and daughters, in the Diaspora, were forced to live in exile due to the repressive environment that prevailed thus, depriving the country of vital human capital and resources needed to fuel the growth for economic and social transformation of our society,” he said.
Since coming to power, Mr. Barrow said his government has undertaken many measures to address these challenges. Among these measures include stabilising the economy, restoring public confidence in Government, strengthening democratic institutions and addressing the energy crisis.
“However, I am aware that more must be done, and urgently. That is why I tasked my government to draw up a new National Development Plan (NDP) to provide greater clarity and focus for government action, citizens’ engagement and also for our development partners who are eager and stand ready to assist us,” he stated.
His speech came after the master of the launching ceremony, permanent secretary of the Ministry of Finance, recounted some events around the presidential elections last year, especially when ex- President Jammeh refused to step down and the country went into chaos.
The strategic orientation and framework for the development plan draws upon several elements, the key ones being the Manifesto of the Coalition of the political parties that defeated the previous regime and the Government Compact agreed during a retreat of the Cabinet 5-7 May 2017, he stated.
“The development partners will support us but the ultimate work to develop The Gambia depends on the citizens of the country,” Barrow said.
He added that launch of the National Development Plan 2018 – 2021 signifies his government’s commitment to implement projects and programmes that will contribute to transforming the Gambia into a more progressive, vibrant and all-inclusive society.
According to President Barrow, successful implementation of this blue print will ensure achievement of government’s medium-term development aspirations. It will also contribute to realisation of their global and regional commitments such as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and African Union (AU) Agenda 2063.
European Union Ambassador to The Gambia, Attila Lajos said less than one year ago, President Barrow took oath, officially and solemnly marking the passage to the “New Gambia”.
“And today, 6 February, is literally the anniversary of the day EU Commissioner Mimica arrived in The Gambia to affirm and re-affirm EU strong support to your democratic transition as well as to the development of your country,” Ambassador Lajos said.
“So much has happened since then. Democracy is deepening its roots. Parliamentary elections were successfully held…. The country has remained stable and secure; despite isolated incidents, there was no outbreak of violence or unrest. This is due to the wise-ness of the Gambian people but also to the efforts of the government in strongly harnessing the much-needed Security Sector Reform. Vigilance is needed, however, and efforts will definitely need to be pursued with determination,” he stated.
Notwithstanding all other gains made in the economy, national reconciliation, freedom of expression, Ambassador Lajos said people now want the “dividends” of peace”, they want to benefit from what democracy can bring them in their daily life.
“We should not disappoint them. It is the government’s responsibility, and we the partners can –and will – humbly accompany,” he added.
Madam Vabah Vayflor, ECOWAS ambassador to The Gambia, said the launching of the National Development Plan has a direct link with the ongoing security reform agenda and by extension, the ECOWAS sub region.
“At ECOWAS family, we are passionate about the Gambian story… if and when Gambia gets it right, the whole ECOWAS gets it right. The ECOWAS Mission has followed with keen interest happenings within The Gambia in the last one year and must say that despite the twist and turns that would normally characterise such transformative environments, the Gambia must be applauded for moving in the right direction with regard to stability, peace, security and development. Nevertheless, we equally acknowledge that there is a lot more work to still do; this the reason for which we are here today,” Ambassador Vayflor stated.