I address this national congress today mindful of the huge task before us as a party and as a nation, deeply humbled by the trust you have bestowed on me and cognizant of the need to continue to work together to solidify our young democracy and to ensure that all decisions made by our elected officials and all policies initiated are for the good of the nation rather than the interest of a few.
The message from the Gambian people has been clear and unambiguous when on the 1st of December 2016, 60% of those who cast their ballots voted for change. It Was a message to those who seek to steer the affairs of our nation that they needed to be serious about empowering the masses, that they needed to take the concerns of the citizens seriously and to strengthen the institutions that will promote good governance and stem the tide of corruption. It was a clarion call by the masses for those wielding power on their behalf to intensify efforts to create jobs for the alarming number of unemployed youths some of whom have resorted to desperate measures such as irregular migration and other forms of criminal activities.
The Gambia is still a young nation but we have gotten to a stage where we can no longer tolerate mediocrity, tribal bigotry, wanton misuse of public resources and absolute control of the majority by a few for selfish ends. The time has come for the people of this great nation of ours to take their destiny in their own hands and to clearly manifest that indeed we have the capacity to build a better and more prosperous country for this and other generations to come. It does not require magic for this to happen, but it requires profound commitment, honesty, sincerity, and tenacity on the part of those bestowed with the responsibility to move this country forward. In achieving that, every Gambian will also need to reaffirm our enduring spirit to construct a better future based on the principles of patriotism, selflessness, respect, discipline and hard work.
The Gambia Democratic Congress was founded on the above principles. The unshakeable believe that with these principles, we can change the narrative in the conduct of our national politics. Many Gambians tend to hold the view that politics is dirty and that it is about lying ones way to political dominance. We clearly understand such a harsh argument as politics in this country has been transformed into a business where elected officials see it as an opportunity to enrich and immortalize themselves at the expense of the people that put them in power in the first place. It has become a tool to settle scores and to make appointments into public office based on who supports the ruling party and who does not rather who has the core competences to effectively serve the Gambian people. The GDC however, has a different view of politics. We have always believed and continue to believe that politics is a mission to utilize public resources to transform the lives of the masses and to build a lasting legacy.
We establish this party with the profound belief that politics is clean and honourable. That we can conduct our politics without resorting to character assassination, sectionalism, tribal bigotry, hatred and without making utterances that can only divide our people and sow the seeds of discord. I therefore call on every GDC supporter to continue to conduct our politics on the high planes of dignity and respect and not to be drawn into politics of fist fights and polarization. This form of politics has no place in this country and should be condemned by all well-meaning Gambians as it is hardly what this country needs at this material time. The Gambian people yearn for a new kind of politics. The kind of politics based on the contest of ideas and the understanding that we are all interconnected. That we all rise and fall together as a nation.
We hold the profound believe that the Gambia can develop into a culturally and economically strong country under a GDC led government. We hold true our commitment once elected into the presidency, to eradicate poverty, create jobs for our youth, and reform our health, agriculture, and education and fisheries sectors, care for the sick and elderly and to put in place mechanisms that would root out corruption in our public sector. As a party in opposition, the GDC will continue to actively hold the coalition government accountable to the people and to contribute in our own way to the socio-economic emancipation of our country and to promote the building of a country where nobody is left behind.
It is time to chat a new beginning. It is time to take nation building seriously. It is time to realize that mediocrity, self-glorification, rampant corruption, wanton wastage of our national resources and the urge to continue to live in the past won’t deliver the kind of change that the Gambian people envisage. So it is time to apply the reverse gear and open a new page.
In conclusion, I wish to thank every one of you for the orderly manner in which you conducted yourselves. The maturity, discipline, mutual respect and patience you have demonstrated here is a clear testimony that the GDC is indeed a party of peace and unity. I wish to sincerely thank all those who are in one way or the other involved in making this day possible. My special thanks go to the people of the URR for hosting us despite all the challenges that come with hosting events of this magnitude. We also wish to recognize the presence of our special guests who against all odds have decided to join us today. Their presence here today is a demonstration that we are all in the crusade of nation building together.