Dec 16, 2016, 12:16 PM
STATEMENT BY H.E. SHEIKH PROFESSOR ALHAJI DR. YAHYA A.J.J. JAMMEH, PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE GAMBIA ON THE OCCASION OF THE 50th ANNIVERSARY OF THE GAMBIA’S INDEPENDENCE, ON THE THEME “FROM THE LEAST DEVELOPED TO AN ECONOMIC SUPER POWER”, 18th FEBRUARY 2015
Officer’s men and women of the Gallant Gambian Armed and Security Services,
Friends of The Gambia, my Compatriots, Distinguished ladies and Gentlemen, boys and girls, all other protocols observed.
Today marks the fiftieth independence anniversary and I ask you to join us to thank Allah the Almighty for having brought us this far.
On behalf of every Gambian, my family and on my own behalf, I take this opportunity to thank all our distinguished guests for coming to join us to celebrate this important day in the annals of our country’s history. The Government and people of The Gambia appreciate the fact that all of you have been able to make the time out of your very busy schedules to accept our invitation to grace this important occasion.
As history is at times written in terms of decades, the accomplishment of five decades of self-rule is indeed worth celebrating as a collective polity. Generally termed ‘Golden Jubilee’, we thank Allah (SWT) that we have some golden social-economic achievements to showcase and the commitment to reflect on the significance of the event. We do so with the objective to consolidate our achievements and to transform our constraints and challenges into advantages and opportunities to accelerate the pace of development.
Thus, the theme of this address is a discourse on my Government’s path to transform The Gambia into an economic super power.
Your Excellencies, distinguished guests, fellow Gambians,
Colonialism was an attempt to halt the internal development process of the peoples of the colonies. It was an exploitive system interest in securing monopoly on raw materials and markets, established through violence, coercion and the usurpation of political power. We however, recall with pride and dignity that the colonized people in general and Africans in particular were determined to stop Colonization through civil resistance and even armed confrontation.
Therefore, on this historic day we will pay tribute to the leaders of African Independence movement and the masses that served as their support base. In spite of the fact that most of them are to blessed memory, their sacrifice, valor and patriotism are still sources of inspiration for us to continue, redirect and refocus the struggle for total political and socio-economic emancipation. We salute them not only for their triumphant stewardship of the independence movement, but for their search and rediscovery of our common African identity that colonialism sought to destroy through balkanization of the continent.
Your Excellencies, distinguished guests, fellow Gambians,
In this regard, I must pay homage to Edward Francis Small whose pioneering efforts my government has recognized and immortalized by renaming the then RVTH after him. We also pay tribute to his other colleagues of blessed memory namely: Rev. John Colley Faye of the Democratic Party, I.M. Garba Jahumpa of Muslim Congress Party, and Pierre S. Njie of the United Party, all of whom in one way or the other struggled to end colonial exploitation. Our homage also goes to the first Prime Minister and later became the first President of the Republic of the Gambia, Alh. Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara, and his colleges of the Peoples Progressive Party for their decisive role in The Gambia’s independence. We also pay tribute to Public Servants down the years who with admirable competence replaced the departing British administrators and groomed their juniors to successively rise to the challenge of running a Civil Service.
Your Excellencies, distinguished guests, fellow Gambians, although independence brought forth significant elements of political freedom, not much success was registered in economic emancipation. This was particularly critical for our Dear motherland that is disadvantaged by her reduced size and her then total dependence on monoculture agriculture, which casted grave doubts about the country’s viability as an independence state.
However, undeterred and inspired by the need to improve the lot of Gambians immediately after independence, the Government of the First Republic through two successive five year development plans implemented projects in roads construction, education and health as well as in manufacturing, agriculture and tourism development. Progress in this respect was constrained by a number of factors including the recurrent Sahelian drought; dependence on development assistance and huge public sector deflects. This resulted in the implementation of a structural adjustment plan with severe social consequences after which attempts were made for gradual sustained recovery.
Your Excellencies, distinguished guests, fellow Gambian, the prelude to the Second Republic was both necessitated and challenged by these inadequacies and limitations in the socio-economic circumstances of Gambians. We thank Allah for the guidance, support and protection amidst pressures from external sources including the travel ban by the British Government that sought to coerce us to surrender power by attempting to cripple the tourism industry. In spite of such external hostilities, which caused occasional internal turbulence, the AFPRC Government launched, and successfully implemented a transition program that ushered in a new sense of optimism and development that eradicates the regional and social inequalities inherited.
These concrete measures built trust, confidence and hope in the rule of the then AFPRC and led to the people of the Gambia legitimizing it to assume leadership of the Second Republic.
Your Excellencies, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, the advent of the Second Republic marked the graduation from an ad hoc, piecemeal and myopic approach to development to a strategic visionary and proactive approach. Since the launching of the Vision 2020 blue print in 1996, sector and thematic strategic plans have been the framework for development action. Their formulation has been, as a matter of principle, influenced by and harmonized with mission statement of the national vision, geared towards the attainment of a middles income status.
You Excellencies, distinguished guests, fellow Gambian, the various projects that have been inaugurated as highlights of the 20th anniversary of the July 22nd Revolution in almost all sectors are clear indications that we have continual been able to plan and implement strategic projects to increase the country’s national social-economic development in both quantitative and qualitative terms. New projects such as the Trans-Gambia bridge project amongst many others to be launched soon, and the Gambia telecommunication gateway and international network management Centre as well as other strategic road projects will be inaugurated as part of the 5oth independence anniversary celebrations.
Successful implementation of these and additional and bigger projects in the very near future are geared towards the rapid attainment of the Economic Super Power status within the next ten years i.e. by 2015 ALLAH THE ALMIGHTY WILLING. As from today, we intend to launch a new mega project every six months and other medium scale project every three months.
Therefore we should all endeavor to shun those cultural beliefs and practices which will hinder our rapid socio-economic development, such as having to depend entirely on a brother, niece or cousin, uncle sister etc. for ones livelihood. Instead we should imbibe the virtues of self-reliance. This calls for all Gambians heeding My Governments ‘Back to The Land’ call and our admonition ‘to grow what we eat and eat what we grow’. Our appeals are specific guides to the indispensable actions to be taken to achieve the goal of food self sufficiency that is Vision 2016 and Vision 2020 and 2020 propelling us towards the target of Economic superpower status by 2025.
Your Excellencies, distinguished guests, fellow Gambians, friends of the Gambia, from the foregoing reflection on the direct phases the Gambia’s development has undergone, it could be deducted that the First Republic employed efforts, as it were, to resuscitate the national economy that was comatose during the colonial period. This process of revival lifted the Gambia from its slumber but not with adequate strength and energy to let her stand on her feet. The continuation of the Heavy dependency syndrome on external assistance remained unabated.
The coming of the Second Republic rescued the national economy from this rudimentary stage of development to a near mature economy able to stand on its own feet and that can thrive on its resources, bolstered by the strong commitment and determination of its leadership which is anchored on the unshakable faith in ALLAH and the full support of all patriotic Gambians. This is the stage that the Second Republic has elevated Gambia to. We need not recount the many development achievements we have registered as these speak for themselves and have been the subject of review and presentation just recently in the celebrations of the 20th anniversary of the July 22nd Revolution. At this critical point in our national development efforts, we should endeavor to match the level of economic development we have achieved with appropriate level of attitudinal and behavioral change and to allow our sense of patriotism, loyalty to the nation and commitment to our divine responsibility to be the drivers of more rapid socio-economic progress, counting entirely on the ALMIGHTY ALLAH ALONE for our success.
In this connection my appeal as an ALLAH FEARING AND PATRIOTIC INDEPENDENT national leader is to urge all Gambians to cultivate the virtue and noble obligation of contributing to national development. Without contributing to National Development, we have no moral right to benefit from it. Thus the ideological shift I am proclaiming at this crucial junction in our struggle for complete national emancipation after 50 years of self-rule entails an unflinching adherence to the principle of “benefit from what you contribute and contribute to what you benefit from”. The morale behind this adage leads naturally to the righteousness principle of spending what one earns and earning what one spends.
I hereby call on all of you Gambians and non-Gambians alike to come and join us in our March towards our inevitable Glorious Destination. This emphasis on contribution towards the national cake and legitimacy of ones’ earning guarantees economic growth and equitable income distribution, which in turn assures dignity, independence peace and economic prosperity for all. I call on all of you once again, to come and join us in our glorious march to the Economic Super Power status by 2025. We hereby invite genuine partnership with all countries of the world in our journey towards the promise land. The Gambia will be the only lasting Economic and social super power NATION in the near future.
What this means in practical terms is that, we will not compete to build the highest sky scrapers, but we will be contented with iconic physical infrastructure that will massively benefit all Gambian. We will massively benefit all Gambians. We will ensure the highest quality in the provision and delivery of public services. We will further build more Universities in addition to the UTG to include specialized institutions in medicine, agriculture, science, technology, engineering and others. We will also build beyond 20 minutes to receive the highest quality Health care. We will also build world-class colleges and other vocational training centers.
These are some of the characteristics of the economic superpower status that we envisage to build on from the level of achievements we have so far registered.
At this junction I wish to express gratitude to our development partners and friends of the Gambia for the mutually beneficial partnership we have built over the years. These partnerships have also been a source of moral support.
My government is highly appreciated of the myriads of solidarity messages from all corners of the world condemning the heinous and suicidal terrorist attack on the State House and commending our valiant and gallant security forces for their instance neutralization of those Foreign based Terrorists.
Let me also assure you that we will never tolerate or comprise with terrorists. By the GRACE of ALLAH, WE WILL ALWAYS WIPE them out with what ever means necessary without hesitation, terrorism, Hate and hegemony have no place in this 21st Century Global Village. All Allah Fearing and worshiping people of all faiths and races must stand united against this global menace.
Your Excellencies, fellow Gambian, whilst independence is imperative for the restoration of the right to sovereign self-determination and to architect one’s socio economic, cultural and spiritual destiny, independent is not synonymous with isolationism. We live in an interdependent world, which calls for mutual support, respect and the elimination of hegemony, exploitation and paternalism in the relationship between nation states. Adherence to such principles guarantees socio political stability and international peace and harmony. The track record of my government has not been wanting in this respect. We have brokered peace through mediation of conflicts and disputes in the sub region and beyond. The performance of our security forces in peace keeping missions sanctioned by the UN and other regional and sub-regional bodies have also been regularly commended.
My government will ensure continuity in these attributes of our foreign policy based on reciprocal observance of the principles of good neighborliness, respect for the sovereignty of states and non-interference in their internal affairs. Whilst assuring the world at large that The Gambia will; not falter in this pledge, let it also be known that The Gambia expects all nations of the world to reciprocate this principle and we will not tolerate any breach of our sovereignty, independence, peace and stability without such country paying a very high price Insha-Allah.
Your Excellencies. Friends of the Gambia fellow Gambians, boys and girls, I wish to reiterate once more on behalf of the government and people of the Gambia and on my own behalf, sincere appreciation and profound gratitude to our distinguished guests for taking time to share this historic moments with us and to wish them in advance, safe return to their various destinations.
On this note, I wish you all a very happy and successful 50th Independence Anniversary celebration and pray to Allah SWT for continued peace, rapid progress and prosperity for our Dear motherland and by extension to the world at large.
This great country of ours will become the yardstick by which human socioeconomic achievement will be measured worldwide; Allah Subhanahu Wa T’ala Willing
MAY THE ALMIGHY ALLAH CONTINUE TO GUIDE, GUARD, BLESS AND PROTECT THE GAMBIA AND ALL COUNTRIES FRIENDLY TO THE GAMBIA.