Nov 13, 2008, 4:03 AM
Senegalese prime minister Souleymane Ndene Ndiaye Wednesday met President Yahya Jammeh in his home village of Kanilai, a move analyst said will strengthen the already existing bilateral relationships between the two countries.
Prime Minister Ndiaye, who was in Banjul on a day's working visit, held talks with the Gambian leader shortly after arriving at Banjul International Airport where he was received by the Vice President, Aja Dr Isatou Njie-Saidy, cabinet ministers and service chiefs.
The two sides discussed key issues of relevance to the two countries in a closed-door meeting.
The Gambian leader told journalists shortly after the meeting with the Senegalese Prime minister that the people of The Gambia and Senegal are one people living in two countries, and thus underscored the importance of dialogue and consultation on a regular basis between the two governments.
According to President Jammeh, there is no one in The Gambia who does not have a relative in Senegal and there is no Senegalese who does not have a relative in The Gambia.
"Any tribe you see in The Gambia is in Senegal, so we are one but two countries. Of recent, we have seen the transport unions of both countries having problems, but we (the Gambia government) have consulted the government of Senegal to solve the issue, and the efforts and consultations made by us in solving that problem is clear to the Senegalese government," he said.
While reiterating the fact that the two countries have agreed on establishing the Senegalo-Gambia Permanent Secretariat, with a view to easing a lot of issues between them, President Jammeh also underscored the need for peace and unity between the two countries to be strengthened.
"I have no problem with President Wade. In fact, I have never had any problem with any Senegalese. You know, you journalists will just jump and say things that do not happen yet. But I have no problems with anyone. Sometimes, when I read newspapers, I see them writing about serious issues which you don't even know where they come from," he said, when asked if he has any problem with Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade.
"Sometimes journalists write terrible stories which one cannot imagine. But life is like that - you don't expect everybody to like you, and you don't expect everyone to hate you as well. The Almighty Allah is seeing and hearing us, which alone is enough.
"If anyone thinks that I have problems with Abdoulaye Wade, then you are the one who knows that, because I don't have any problem with Abdoulaye Wade or any Senegalese," the Gambian leader said, noting that even the teeth and the tongue which are in the same mouth do crush on each other sometimes.
Also speaking to journalists was prime minister Souleymane Ndene Ndiaye, who emphasized that the two peoples are one nation living in two countries, and that it was the colonial masters who divided them.
According to him, the relationship between The Gambia and Senegal should not be spoiled by mere talk.
"The ties between the two countries is much more important to us than press freedom and democracy," Ndiaye said.
An envoy of President Wade, prime minister Ndiaye reaffirmed what he said was President Wade's commitment in strengthening the already existing relationship between Banjul and Dakar.
He commended President Jammeh for his efforts in promoting peace between the two countries, and for his contributions in resolving the recent border impasse between the transport unions of the two countries.
Meanwhile, in a separate development, President Jammeh on the same day received, at his Kanilai residence, the vice president of the Kirloskar Brothers Limited, an Indian-based corporate international institutional business.
LH Dabi told journalists shortly after his audience with the Gambian leader that his firm plans to invest in The Gambia's agricultural sector, especially in the area of irrigation, with a view to boosting agricultural production and ensuring that the country attains food self-sufficiency within 24 months.
"If everything goes well, The Gambia will be food sufficient and export surplus within the next 24 months," Dabi said.
According to him, the first phase of the project will be an irrigation project, noting that they are working on the modalities of how many hectares. This, he added, will be completed within the next two months.
He told journalists that his discussion with President Jammeh also centered on how Africa could put priority on irrigated agriculture than what it is today.
"This is significant considering the fact that each of the 54 countries in the continent is importing food and thus does not have its own food to feed its people," he said, and described this state of affairs as something "rather sad".