GOOD MORNING MR PRESIDENT: Recollections, one year after Barrow takes office

Monday, January 22, 2018

You took oath on 19 January 2017 at The Gambian Embassy, Dakar in Senegal administered by the then president of The Gambia Bar Association, Sherrif Tambedou. You came back to The Gambia on January 26, 2017 after spending 11 days in Dakar due to security reasons during the political impasse. You started the Presidential Mission on 30 January 2017 and announced your Cabinet on the 1 February 2017.

Mr. President, we would like to congratulate you and your government for your one year in power with lot of challenges, most of which were inherited from the past government. The state coffers were all looted and left to zero by the ex-president Jammeh. Thanks to EU, World Bank and IMF who came in the right time to rescue your government in the budget deficit. The World Bank, however, again helped in the energy crisis by providing 20kwat generator.

Mr. President, you deserve commendation for your efforts in making The Gambia rejoin the Commonwealth and restored cordial relations with the international community and our next door neighbour, Senegal.

Mr. President, in as much as there were lots of challenges inherited by your government, during your one year tenure in office, your government managed to register some developments and improvements especially in the areas of human rights, press freedom, freedom of expression, democracy and rule of law.

Your granting of amnesty to 308 prisoners was very welcoming as the state of the prisons was deemed unfitting for human beings and needs refurbishment.

Mr. President, in the judiciary, we noted the appointments of a Gambian chief Justice Hassan B. Jallow, several Gambian judges in the Supreme Court, and the Court of Appeal presided by a Gambian woman, Ms. Awa Bah. These appointments are a big boost for the Gambian Judiciary that has long been dominated by Nigerian judges.

Mr. President, electricity and water supply still remain to be problem. Although there are numerous improvements in the electricity and water supply, more efforts need to be done to avoid over loading and interrupted power supply in our areas. The deadline of solving the electricity and water supply is February and it’s fast approaching.

Mr. President, sports in general are dormant. It’s been a long time since the country had glory in sports especially football. The Sports Ministry should organise a national conference, which will enable partners and stakeholders to discuss and make recommendations for the way forward.

Mr. President, as your government strives to maintain and promote democracy, good governance and human rights, we are still appealing to your government to consider abolishing the draconian media laws and reduce the taxes which is a big challenge for the media fraternity in the country. Your government should consider giving subventions to media houses to help them meet their challenges as most African countries are doing now.

Mr. President, travelling documents are very important for everybody to have. The ministry of interior should make efforts to solve this problem once and for all so that every Gambian will acquire their national ID cards, passports and driving licences whenever the need arises. The security of the country should not also be compromised and anyone found wanting by the law should face full force of the law. Efforts should also be done to bring to justice those who committed crimes and are living in neighbouring countries.

Mr. President, the transport system in the country still remains one of the biggest problems faced by workers and students. Your government should look into getting more buses for students and workers plying the Banjul-Brikama to ease the problem. More ferries for the Banjul-Barra crossing are also needed.

Airlines companies should be encouraged to invest in The Gambia with reasonable fares for air tickets especially Banjul-Dakar.

The rainy season is barely five months to go. It’s the best time for your government to look into the rehabilitation and construction of markets, roads, internal roads, feeder roads, more health centres, schools in Banjul, KMC, West Coast Regional etc.

Mr. President, your government should always fight corruption, tribalism, ethnicity and nepotism. Development should be diverse.

The importation tax of certain food commodities in the country that has been reduced is encouraging.

Finally, Mr. President, we would like to thank our neighbouring country, the people of Senegal, President Macky Sall and his government, ECOWAS and the international community that helped The Gambia during the political impasse and made sure that Jammeh’s oppressive rule ended peacefully without bloodshed and democracy finally restored in the country.

Good day