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2020 NEW YEAR MESSAGE By His Excellency, Mr. Adama Barrow, President of the Republic of The Gambia

Jan 2, 2020, 2:53 PM

Broadcast Date: 31st December 2019

Fellow Gambians,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Tomorrow marks the beginning of the year, 2020, and the end of 2019. As we reflect on the events of 2019, we pride ourselves on the catalogue of projects, events and successes registered during the year, for which we thank the Almighty Allah. These were clearly outlined in my address to the National Assembly, and require no elaboration.

My government’s policies are geared towards establishing strong institutions and the right legal frameworks for nation building.  It is within this context that structures are established, and we have started to realise their impact in the current year.

First, the implementation of the recommendations in the “Janneh Commission” report has marked a sharp turning point for the entire country in respect of the former President’s financial dealings and his close associates.

Second, the TRRC revelations have opened a new chapter in the history of The Gambia and world politics.  This Commission has exposed numerous hideous crimes committed under the watch of the former President, instilling a reign of terror in the populace, which resulted in the clamour for change. That change is now embraced by Gambians, and its impact is a source of solace and optimism for all of us.

Third, the submission of a draft Constitution to usher in the Third Republic marks another significant and progressive turning point in the annals of this nation.

My Government has reviewed, approved and presented nine Bills to the National Assembly for consideration.  Amongst these are the Access to Information Bill, the Media Services Bill, Public Order Bill and Anti-Corruption Bill. 

We have also proposed to remove all gender discriminatory provisions from our laws.  These, among others, together with the National Development Plan (NDP) projects, programmes and the continuous institutional reforms have yielded positive outcomes. While we expect to reap the actual fruits of my Government’s strategies in the long term, Gambians will soon enjoy in prosperity and development that encompass the entire nation. It is obvious that the Government has taken the right steps, and we are heading in the right direction.

As such, we welcome the New Year with optimism, confident that greater successes lie ahead.  I must observe, importantly, that attaining greater successes require bigger efforts, bigger investments in real terms and bigger sacrifices from every citizen.

It also calls for the fullest exploitation of the energies, competencies and endowments reposed in our human resource for maximum utilisation of the resources at our disposal. This realisation should fortify us in the year ahead; but, our strategies now need to include moderating our differences and refocusing our vision.

Fellow Gambians,

2020 is a popular target year for key global development goals, many of which will not be attained. Although this is not an excuse for failure anywhere, it is a reminder that unforeseen circumstances and external factors can affect any national plan or target.

So far, my Government is in the pursuance of Projects that would touch the lives of rural and urban dwellers as designed in the NDP, and we are poised to do better.

Thus far, the legislative frameworks, structural arrangements and institutional reforms executed manifest how genuine and how organised, realistic and consistent we have been in the pursuit of our national development objectives.

From 2020 onward, sharper focus will be cast on human resource and infrastructure development, the economy, the social services, institutional strengthening and performance. 

Our achievements and endorsements, nationally and internationally, have encouraged us to remain at the helm of the affairs of the nation. Today, we are more determined, more focused and much more devoted to the cause of the people.

We have learnt lessons and are better prepared to tackle the challenges that confront us as a nation within the context of a world marked by unexpected developments.

We will continue to galvanise support from the international community through convincing evidence of the vigour, seriousness and sincerity that underline our approach to governance.

We will translate all these into honest, transparent and accountable processes, and will intensify the fight against corruption in public institutions. Succeeding in this venture calls for public support and cooperation.   

Let me add that it is the people who develop a country, but it is the people themselves who stall the progress of their nations.

To avoid this, we must not violate the legal frameworks, ethical values and codes of ethics that govern the discharge of our responsibilities and duties.

Fellow Gambians,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The year 2019 has witnessed many attempts for citizens to exercise their democratic rights.  Unfortunately, in the processes, some lives have been lost.  I pray that their souls rest in eternal peace, and give the families respite.

Fellow Gambians,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I swore twice by the Holy Qur’an, in Dakar and in The Gambia, to defend and act according to the national Constitution. Under these circumstances, I cannot accord the Coalition Agreement preference over the Constitution.

The desire to dislodge dictatorship by all democratic means guided us in the development of the Coalition Agreement.

After I took up office, the gravity of the institutional failures, abuse of office, human rights and bad governance became more apparent.  Thus, the need to weigh fulfilling the Coalition Agreement and acting on the Constitution I swore to uphold. The confidence and mandate entrusted upon me have subsequently guided my decision to respect the voice and will of the people, by maintaining to serve the full Constitutional mandate of five years. 

It is in the same spirit that both the Legislative and Local Government Elections occurred.

The circumstances now dictate that national development and the national interest take precedence over partisan or sectional interests.

While tendering my resignation is not unconstitutional, as some people argue, it is irresponsible and imprudent to do so if it is not prompted and justified by principles linked to statehood and the people. To resign after three years in office implies betraying the people, multitudes of whom continue to pledge support for my Government and our development agenda.

I have judiciously counselled myself to bow to the will of the people, and I refuse to yield to the sentiments and ambitions of a minority group. For this reason, my decision is to complete the five-year mandate stipulated in the Constitution for a sitting President. I am not ill disposed in any way to warrant my resignation as President.

In consequence, the next Presidential Election will be held according to schedule in 2021. For this purpose, the electoral reform process is in progress to ensure that all national elections are free and fair.

The greatest threat to the nation is disorder and instability. Lawlessness will undermine the peace and tranquility we now enjoy.

While all citizens should remain vigilant, the security services have to be alert and well-disposed to maintain law and order, defend our sovereignty and secure our territorial integrity.

I pray that the Almighty Allah bless our motherland, protect and preserve the dignity and honour of the people and grant us the wisdom, fortitude and means to attain all our noble goals as a government and a people.

I urge all citizen to resolve to become better democratic and productive citizens in the year ahead. Let us attune our thoughts and actions with the New Year resolution of creating a sustained climate of inclusive and nationalistic participation for unity, peace, progress and stability forever.

I wish you all a very Happy and Prosperous New Year. God bless The Gambia, and bless us all.

Thank you for your attention.