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OJ hails Gambia's independent architects

Feb 25, 2010, 2:40 PM | Article By: Alieu Jabang

Mr Omar Jallow, leader of the opposition Peoples Progressive Party, a former Parliamentarian and Minister of Agriculture in the first Republic has hailed the country's independent architects for their contribution in fighting for the country's nationhood.

PPP Leader made these remarks in respect of the 45th independence anniversary of The Gambia. Below is the full text of his speech:

"I will like to seize this opportunity to congratulate all Gambians on this auspicious occasion when we celebrate our 45th year of nationhood in peace progress and prosperity."

I will like to say that all sceptics are proven wrong, because when the PPP among many parties decided The Gambia should be independent, some other parties in The Gambia were convinced by colonialist that because of our size, our economy and the resources available to us, Gambia will be unable to stand on its own as an independent sovereign state.

But fortunately for the leadership of the PPP, they thought differently and were convinced that Gambia can stand on its own feet and pursue its future programmes and projects of its people as sovereign independent state.

And in 1965, The Gambia was proclaimed an independent sovereign state and we have survived happily and peacefully for 45 years.  And we have seen development strides that really surpassed the over 300 years or so of colonialism thanks to the people who in their wisdom led this country into independence.

So I will use this occasion to salute and honour those founding fathers of The Gambia's independence. Commencing from Edward Francis Small, I.M. Garba Jahumpa, Rev. JC Faye, PS Njie, Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara, Sir Farimang Singhateh and all those who sacrificed their lives, their resources and the convenience of their families to made Gambia what it is today for us the younger generation to realise and enjoy the era of freedom, liberty and progress.

When independence was earned in 1965, most of all the African countries were living under dictatorship except The Gambia. That is why when Sir Dawda pushed a resolution in the AU then the OAU for the establishment of a Human Right Commission, only Gambia had the environment acceptable for the establishment of the headquarters of this institution. That is why we have the Human and Peoples Rights Commission headquarters in The Gambia.

 It was also Sir Dawda who pushed a resolution in Kampala in 1975 for the Commonwealth to establish a Commonwealth Human Right Commission. It was also the same Sir Dawda in 1979 who pushed a resolution in the UN and I was then privileged to put this resolution before the UN as Parliamentary Secretary External Affairs for the observant of Steve Biko day as an international acceptable day of reflection.

We lived in a very democratic society in The Gambia, a country that respects democracy, rule of law and human rights. Gambian people were free and had their freedom of speech, movement, association and worship. That is why as small as we are, as much as Gambia is not endowed with mineral resources, you find a lot of refugees and political migrants from all the countries around us because here was the save heaven for dignity and upliftment of the human rights and freedoms of the Black peoples in this sub-region.

Therefore, for The Gambia to progress, the foundation must be based on the freedom and the rights of the Gambian people. Irrespect of these, Gambia will be failing history and will be living on the wrong side of history. And in this occasion of our 45 years of independence, I pray to the authorities to extend the hand of mercy and free all the prisoners who have served for over ten years in our different prisons.

I will also on this occasion request government to lead and revisit the agricultural policies in this country. Over 80% of the population live from subsistence agriculture. Because of this occasion, I will particularly called on the Minister responsible for agriculture to re-introduce the Co-operative Union. This was the only institution responsible for the marketing and finance of agricultural produce and the only institution responsible for the financial and input loans to the farming communities for the betterment and improvement of their farming activities. .

"I will again also call on the government to please accept that the opposition are not enemies of the government but partners in development."