Friends of The Gambia,
Distinguished Listener and Viewers,
The wheel of another year has come full cycle, as today marks the end of 2018. In view of all the successes registered in the year, it is with pride, satisfaction and appreciation that I dedicate this message to all of you.
Reflecting on the past, 2017 was a historic year in the annals of this country. It marked the crucial turning point in the history of The Gambia and a welcome change of government. It was the year that, together, we won the battle against dictatorship, tyranny and fear. Furthermore, it was the year we laid the foundation for a truly democratic government.
Unfortunately, 2017 had bleak undertones. We came face-to-face with the realities of the economy; uncovered how the national wealth was plundered; and, sadly, discovered the nature and extent of the horrible crimes that were committed against the citizens of this country. The revelations and facts were terrible.
With much relief, 2018 will be remembered in the years ahead as the year we broke down barriers and unlocked the doors to success, progress and development. It has been a year of success, inspiration, renewed optimism and hope. The result is that we have been inspired to believe in ourselves and build confidence to run the affairs of this nation. We are convinced that, acting together, we can achieve whatever tasks and targets we set ourselves.
The whole world has opened up to The Gambia, and we have been re-admitted as respectable and dignified members of the comity of nations. The diplomatic relations and renewed friendships established, or mutually deepened with other countries and organisations, such as the European Union and the Commonwealth, are clear examples.
With consolation, the economy that made us nervous, has now been revived – thanks, most especially, to the European Union for spearheading the Brussels meeting in May of this year. Of course, we will ever remain grateful to all other international organisations and friends who have stood by us.
Distinguished Listeners and viewers,
It is obvious that realistic plans with clear goals, targets, indicators and strategies are essential for national development. In this light, the launch of the 2018 – 2021 National Development Plan was another key achievement of the year. To cite a few more examples, other achievements registered during the year include the Legislative and Local Government Elections; the setting up of three important commissions; namely: the Constitution Review Commission, the Truth Reconciliation and Reparation Commission and the Commission on the activities of the former President.
I am proud to mention, briefly, the successful reforms also initiated by my government. These embrace the security sector, the civil service and the law reforms. The list goes on and on. Based on tangible evidence that cannot be contested, it is conclusive that 2018 has been a year of tremendous success for the Government and People of The Gambia. I congratulate all citizens and our friends on these accomplishments.
Distinguished listeners and Viewers,
Life cannot be rosy all the time. Quite naturally, therefore, 2018 had its dark side. The Faraba Bantang and Busumbala incidents, as well as the standoff at the Social Security, Housing and Finance Corporation, are regrettable examples. In spite of the complexity of the challenges that emerged during the year, the right approach was adopted and appropriate action taken in each case.
I hope that the lessons learnt in the process will prevent the occurrence of such events.
The change of government last year sparked off a lot of political agitation and activity, which continue to gain momentum in the country. This is part of democracy. Nevertheless, the debates and discourses that underlie political activities should be decent, constructive, positively productive and unifying. This cannot be attained in the absence of discipline, proper education and orientation, maintaining the rule of law and respect for one another.
In a young democracy, such as ours, politics should be handled with tack and caution. In these circumstances, there is need for national unity to ensure that there are no cracks that enemies of the state can exploit.
Distinguished Listeners and Viewers,
The end of any year serves as a reminder of the importance of time in relation to how it drifts away unnoticed; how we grow older; yet, how more mature and wise we become. It reminds us of the urgency to attend to unfinished business and to rededicate ourselves to our duties and responsibilities.
Time and tide wait for no one. As a result, we must not fail to shoulder our responsibilities promptly. It is particularly unrealistic if we fail due to negligence, laziness, indifference, passivity or any other vice that deters progress. Let us be forward-looking, innovative, genuine and steadfast in order to realise greater achievements.
This is the right moment to make resolutions for the coming year so that we can be more productive as a nation. Accordingly, I propose that we resolve that each passing minute, hour, day, week and month of the year will be spent most usefully, most wisely and most productively so that we can accomplish as much as feasible.
I advise all institutions to update their Action Plans, and devise ways of addressing the bottlenecks encountered during the year. Success begins with proper planning.
There has been a lot of talk about citizenship, rights and entitlements. This is lawful; but, citizenship is not only about fighting for rights and a share of the national cake.
More importantly, citizenship is about belonging to a nation and contributing to the creation, development and expansion of the national cake. In real terms, the national cake is the national wealth, with everything that goes with it.
Like democracy, the national wealth is the creation of all citizens, out of the contributions of all citizens and for all citizens to enjoy. As it is a responsibility to defend one’s rights, so is it a responsibility to build and protect the national wealth. Successful nations have demonstrated this quite amply. Their human resource base has been at the core of their development. Where natural resources did not exist, they used their brains to fetch them from wherever they could. As the human resource of this country, our collective challenge is to develop the country through our natural and acquired endowments. Ultimately, instead of struggling to search for greener pastures elsewhere, other nationals should struggle to come and live in The Gambia.
The youth, in particular, have a future here, and we invite and urge them to stay put and work with us.
On the issue of crime and security, let us support the Security Services, and provide community support systems for them. This can be done if all citizens stand firm against crime, especially against illegal drugs, robbery, murder and corruption. Our development and happiness depend on the degree of our freedom, peace, stability and ability to attain our noble goals. The more we are committed to these noble values, the more we succeed. Let the security, peace and unity of the people come first before any other considerations. This is what good citizenship and selflessness entail.
Our successes in 2017 and 2018 provide sufficient evidence and assurances of better days to come. At the current rate of development, every Gambian should be encouraged to stand by my government, be sincere to the nation and do the utmost to repel all agents of disunity, evil and backwardness.
Friends of The Gambia,
Distinguished listeners and viewers,
It is evident that we must have lost dear ones during the year – be they family, friends, neighbours, colleagues or other close associates. Some of us may have had bitter experiences or encountered difficulties. Therefore, I extend my condolences and prayers to all bereaved families. For all those in difficulty, I pray that ease comes your way. May 2019 be much better, much more peaceful and much more fulfilling than 2018 for every one of us.
Wishing all of us, together, brighter days and a more productive and prosperous year ahead, I pray that the Almighty God continues to bless the nation, bless our efforts and grant us perpetual success through His divine help.