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INAUGURAL STATEMENT

BY

H.E. SHEIKH PROFESSOR ALHAJI DR. YAHYA A.J.J. JAMMEH
PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE GAMBIA

ON THE SWEARING-IN CEREMONY
FOR HIS FOURTH TERM IN OFFICE

THE INDEPENDENCE STADIUM

THURSDAY 19TH JANUARY 2012

 

 

My Colleague Heads of State and Government

Your Excellency the First Lady – Madam Zineb Yahya Jammeh

Your Excellency the Vice President and Minister of Women's Affairs – Aja Dr. Isatou Njie-Saidy

Honourable Speaker of the National Assembly

My Lord the Chief Justice

Prime Ministers and other representatives of Heads of State and Government

Honourable Ministers

Secretary General and Head of The Civil Service

Honourable National Assembly Members

Members of the Diplomatic and Consular Corps

Lord Mayors and Regional Governors

Senior Government Officials

Service Chiefs

Seyfolu, Alkalolu and Community Elders

Heads of Parastatals and Public Enterprises

Venerable Religious Leaders

Distinguished Guests

Ladies and Gentlemen

Boys and Girls

 

I thank the Almighty Alllah and praise Him for all the favours and blessings bestowed upon us, particularly for the peace, tranquility and progress that we so gratefully enjoy and jealously guard in our beloved motherland. I am grateful to the Almighty Allah for making it possible for all of us to witness this momentous occasion, giving me a fourth term of office as President and Commander-In-Chief of The Gambia Armed Forces of this great nation. Admittedly, therefore, it is with much pride, gratitude and humility that I deliver this inaugural address whose theme is "Gambians United to Build an Economic Superpower".

Before anything else, let me take this singular privilege and profound pleasure, on behalf of The Government and people of The Gambia, my Family and my humble self of welcoming and paying special tribute to the distinguished Heads of State and other international guests who have travelled from far and wide to grace this solemn event. In particular, I feel honoured to acknowledge the presence of my dear brothers and friends, the Heads of State and Government from the sub-region.

Their participation in this solemn ceremony reflects the depth of the special and enduring relationship as well as the solidarity and Friendship that exist between their beloved countries and our Dear Motherland. We welcome all of you to your second home - The Gambia. Your Excellencies, your are at Home. We count on your continued friendship, solidarity and cooperation for the mutual benefit of our respective countries and peoples.


Fellow Gambians

Your Excellencies

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen

 

Overwhelmed by the intensity of the solidarity, confidence and trust you unprecedentedly demonstrated at the recent Presidential Election, I convey to you, without reservation, my infinite appreciation and sincere gratitude for electing me for a fourth term of office as Head of State of this great country. You have not only spoken through the ballot box, but have also projected your resolve, will and conviction to channel the progress and development of our motherland through me and, by extension, my Government.

The 72% votes cast for me out of a monumental voter turnout of 90% under a free, fair and transparent electoral process, is a decisive and convincing victory by all standards. Never before had Gambians turned out in such record numbers to freely, peacefully and orderly exercise their franchise to elect a President. In view of this, allow me to record special thanks to my dear mother, wife and family, my Government and the massive APRC stalwarts and supporters as well as all the Gambians who contributed to making this joyous moment a reality. To our true friends and brothers and sisters in the international community who have sent messages of solidarity, support and prayers before, during and after the elections, I say a big thank you. May the Almighty Allah guide, protect and reward you.

A re-examination of the voting patterns of the last election clearly reveals that the mandate you have accorded me cuts across regions, districts, constituencies, ethnicity, gender, age and all other forms of divides, whether these are artificial or natural. That there is no single group that constitutes over seventy percent of the population corroborates this. Thus, this is not a victory for me or the APRC alone, but victory for the patriotic, progressive, development-oriented good people of this country. It is a victory for solidarity, peace, security, progress and socio-economic development. In consequence, my tenure of office will continue to eclipse and neutralise all forms of sectarianism and will be marked by the full participation of all of us patriotic and progressive Gambians for the attainment of our sacred aspirations as a nation under my leadership. This is the source of my courage for focusing this address on the theme "Gambians United to Build an Economic Superpower".

One may be tempted to ask whether this is a realistic goal. If yes, what does it take to achieve it; or, what type of society need we cultivate for its realization? What strengths must we harness, and what threats should we counteract? Let us all attempt to answer these questions in our various ways for appropriate action as we strive and match on during these five years.

 

Fellow Gambians

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen

It must be appreciated that in our context, being an economic superpower connotes being a great nation of dignified and self-dependent people guided by sublime values; people who are proud of being what they are – that is, Gambians. This implies further being Gambians that are politically, socially, morally, psychologically and, above all, economically independent and able to live by our principles, sustained by our resources and setting our own standards and looking up to only the Almighty Allah in whose Benevolent Hands we place our Collective Destiny. Ours has to be a common destiny that is determined, defined and directed by us, and not dictated from outside our shores.

The achievements of the past seventeen years convince us sufficiently that we can attain a lot more if we unite under one supreme umbrella our mother, and work together diligently, honestly and in the best interest of everyone of us. I will not bore you with a string of achievements made over these years. There are lots of publications that have done this. What such material has not done is to project the impact of these achievements on the lives of the people or on their standard of living. However, I believe Gambians have done this; hence, they know where lies their salvation or emancipation from poverty, waywardness, disease, ignorance, underdevelopment, disunity and all the elements that have kept African nations stagnant and backward for centuries. For the massive support and love you have for me, I hereby pledge to take you to the promised land of an undisputed Economic SuperPower INSHALLAH in the not too distant future.

Africans, including Gambians, have been known to be resilient in naturally resisting hardship and diseases. With the breakthroughs in the sciences and traditional medicine, we will now have to transform that resilience into positive energy, redirect it for positive change and embed our sense of patriotism in a new form of citizenship: pragmatic, patriotic citizenship for rapid and sustainable development; patriotic citizenship for independence, progress, peaceful coexistence, national security, social cohesion, dignity and global recognition. Let this be patriotic citizenship with the resolve to march in unison to the envisioned status of a global economic giant.

 

Distinguished Guests

Fellow Gambians

Discernibly, our notion of building an economic superpower is not epitomized by a keen competition for lethal weapons of mass destruction and incitation of enmity among nations so that such weapons can be tested or sold to boost our economic prowess at the expense of innocent lives, but a notion marked by the creation of a secure environment by the state for the preservation of peace, social justice, human dignity and highest quality of life for all and sundry. Indeed, attaining all these objectives requires the utilisation of human ingenuity in search of greater peace, love and prosperity for humankind.

 

It is against these precepts and perspectives that I will make reference to the recently launched National Programmed for Accelerated Growth and Employment (PAGE) to briefly outline some of my key priorities, policies, and programmes for the coming years.

 

Your Excellencies

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen

Fellow Gambians

The beginning of my term of office for the next five years coincides strategically with the commencement of the implementation of Phase One of the Programme for Accelerated Growth and Employment (PAGE),which spells out Government's strategic priorities and activities for the period, 2012-2015. The successor programme will follow to guide us through to the year 2020, which is the target year for the realization of Vision 2020.

The hallmark of the PAGE is that it is dynamic and transformative and therefore, has the propensity to transition The Gambia into a highly developed country, with highest living standards for the citizenry.

The key components of this comprehensive national programme are designed to accelerate and sustain economic growth; eliminate poverty; build ultra modern infrastructure for a safer and better transportation system; guarantee universal access to affordable energy; and enhance a modern information and communications technology network for efficient utilisation.

To attain and sustain all the envisioned outcomes, the PAGE also focuses prominently on intense human capital development for employability, with corresponding and carefully targeted health service interventions crafted to nurture a healthy populace. All these will be interfaced with strengthening and reinforcing the existing governance systems, structures and procedures, whilst stamping out corruption and other evil practices that undermine development endeavours.

 

Fellow Gambians

Cognisant of their significant contribution to the economy, the Growth sectors will be subjected to significant reforms during these five years. The Agriculture sector, for instance, will have to exploit the advantages that go with existing technologies to transform its characteristically traditional modes of production and align their interventions with modern developments and predetermined outputs. By necessity, such transformation will permeate the entire Gambian community in order to render my 'back-to-the-land call' optimally productive.

 

Vigorous efforts will be made too to revolutionise the Tourism sector with a view to making The Gambia a world-class tourist destination. The promotion of eco-tourism will be intensified without compromising on our cultural values and heritage. Also, we will diversify our products, intensify our partnerships internationally and improve on our facilities and hospitality industries and services through training provided in collaboration with the University of The Gambia and other reputable institutions of higher learning.

 

Distinguished Guests

Ladies and Gentlemen

 

In the years ahead, the Gambian people will only have to catch-up with the advance countries but also strive to overtake them. Global trends dictate that to achieve this, Education, Training, Science and Technology as well as innovation must serve as the axis for scaling up the development progress in the country. In this direction, the full and sustainable electrification of all our communities is indispensable. As we require digital communities capable of contributing to a knowledge-based economy and society; Science and Technology will dictate our pace of development. Let me seize this opportunity, therefore, to declare 2012 the Year of Science and Technology and Innovation.

 

To commemorate this declaration, I ask all sectors, institutions, municipalities and Regional Governors to work in collaboration with the Higher Education Ministry to implement the programme proposed in this regard. A national committee comprising the Ministry of Higher Education, Basic and Secondary Education, Finance and Economic Development, Information and Communication Technology, Energy and the University of The Gambia will lead this commemoration under the chairmanship of the Minister of Higher Education to be assisted by the Vice Chancellor of the University of The Gambia as Vice Chairman.

 

To complement this, we will engage ourselves more vigorously in wealth creation through innovative entrepreneurship, skills acquisition, development and application as well as knowledge generation and innovation. The education system will be made more responsive to these challenges and will design forward-looking programmes that anticipate challenges and produce quality scholars, graduates and leaders that are critical enough to search for and proffer solutions; not students who create problems and challenges that deter development. In a nut-shell, we don't need anti-social, anti progress egocentric graduates and leaders who think of nothing but themselves.

My Government will ensure that quality, relevant and robust curricula are developed and grounded deep into the realities of the Gambian people and the global socio-economic milieu. These educational programmes will be made effective in tapping positively the valour, energy and potential that repose in the youth. The scope, depth and degree of participation in national development by the youth and women, in particular, will be amplified to accommodate their effective contribution to the constructions of the economic superpower we all yearn for. Essentially, therefore, new thinking and new ways of doing things should guide not only our educational institutions but also how we operate in the work place, the home and in the wider community.

To put it bluntly; only great personal sacrifice by all of us Gambians can quickly bring about the economic superpower status.

The completion of the University of The Gambia Campus in Faraba Bantang and the operations of both the Kanilai Institute of Science and Technology and the Ultra-modern Ndemban Skills Training Centre during these five years will bolster efforts geared towards the attainment of our vision and lofty ideals.

 

Your Excellencies

Distinguished Guests

Ladies and Gentlemen

Boys and Girls

The current illiteracy rates are admissibly unacceptable, and have to be lowered to the barest minimum until illiteracy is totally eliminated. Our definition of literacy will from now on transcend the ability to read and write only. It will encompass functionality characterised by general awareness of contemporary issues and ability to make informed choices, as demonstrated during the last Presidential Election.

The revision of the current Education Policy (2004-2015) will be complete in 2012, and decentralised teacher training approaches will be introduced at strategic centres in the country and intensified progressively to ensure that adequate quality teachers are provided at various levels of the Basic and Secondary Education sector. While we continue to take pride in the enrolment and parity rates registered at the basic education level, efforts will have to be stepped up in order that no child is deprived of the right to quality education and, therefore, the right to equal opportunity to compete in the world of work and to lead a useful and comfortable life.

 

Excellencies

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen

To translate Vision 2020 into the reality of The Gambia becoming an Economic Superpower, we must ensure that all our development efforts are firmly underpinned by a sound, efficient and effective justice delivery system. Thus, our laws in the areas of public finance, development, trade and commerce need to be continually fine-tuned to reflect the realities of international trade and investments of the 21st Century. To this end, my Government has, in recent times, enacted laws aimed at not only boosting investor confidence but also creating a level playing field for development.

 

However, the mere promulgation of appropriate laws does not necessarily create the environment conducive to the transformation of The Gambia into an economic superpower. Investors, both Gambians and non-Gambians, need to be assured that our laws are adhered to and implemented, with easy recourse to the courts for speedy dispensation of justice being assured.

 

Your Excellencies

Distinguished Guests

Ladies and Gentlemen

Boys and Girls

We should endeavour to protect the nation as we make progress. Therefore, the security services will be boosted and will have to work with the citizenry to secure our borders and all within.

 

Fellow Gambians

We are all aware of some of the attendant vices of economic growth, such as money laundering, environmental degradation, forced labour and trafficking in persons and drugs, to name a few. These are inimical to sustained economic development, and will never be tolerated by my Government. We have promulgated the necessary legislation and established the relevant institutions, but a characteristic common to all laws is that their effective enforcement depends on everyone of us. We must unite as patriotic Gambian citizens and work with our law enforcement institutions and agencies to cleanse all potential breeding grounds for crime once and for all.

The Gambia belongs to all of us, irrespective of our political or other affiliations. Accordingly, all Gambians, young and old alike, owe the solemn duty to the nation of making The Gambia a shining example to the world of how a small country, through the hard work, honesty, patriotism and the determination of its people, can be transformed into an economic superpower. All that is needed is the collective will to act and more importantly the Blessings of the Almighty Allah. As the saying goes, "where there is a will, there is always a way".

 

Excellencies

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen

Let me reiterate my commitment to universal access to uninterrupted supply of electricity and water in the country. In this direction, the initial electricity projects, such as the additional power generation capacity Brikama Phase One, the West Coast Region Electrification Project, The Gambia-Venezuela Project, the Rural Electrification Improvement and Extension Project as well as the ongoing water projects will be expanded systematically during these five years for complete national coverage. By Allah's grace every corner of this country will eventually be lined up with street lights and all communities will be provided with clean drinking water. We will settle for nothing less.

 

Fellow Gambians

Distinguished Guests

Ladies and Gentlemen

 

Our foreign policy will continue to be distilled and guided by the principle of mutual respect, peaceful coexistence, dialogue and mutually beneficial relations with our friends, neighbours and the global community. Added to this, our quest for peace and love for humanity hinges on respect for the rule of law, upholding our cherished democratic principles linked to natural and social justice, political prudence and respect for the sanctity of human life, and the right to legitimate freedom, happiness and self-fulfillment for all.

 

We will continue to deplore and condemn all forms of terrorist and racist acts, whether these are committed by individuals or organised groups, or any nation or nations but shamefully disguised as humanitarian interventions. Crucially, in striving to become an economic success, we will not entertain selfish pursuits of economic gain devoid of any ethical undertones; hence, my Government will never subscribe to economic advantages from expansionist motives or suppression and domination of other nations.

At this juncture, I thank all the friends of The Gambia who subscribe to such ideals, and continue to stand by us. We look forward to a renewed commitment to the fraternal ties that bind us.

 

Your Excellencies

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen

Fellow Gambians

The stage is set for the realisation of our development objectives, and I say this with utmost sincerity. This is not the time for mere rhetoric or empty propaganda. For this reason, in implementing the programmes outlined, all sectors will review their policies to reflect these pronouncements. All of us must also endeavour to revolutionise our implementation strategies, sharpen our organizational skills, raise our sense of discipline and work tirelessly and much harder.

Let it be made clear that the implementation of these national programmes will be subject to continual monitoring, evaluation and review, and there will be zero tolerance for anyone who tries to stall this process. A National Planning Commission will be re-established to work very closely with all sectors for policy and programme implementation, including continuous monitoring and evaluation of each sector's performance. The institutionalised tri-annual Cabinet Retreats and the Permanent Secretaries Forum will also serve as national review, evaluation and planning platforms. All these should provide a web of systems and structures for effective implementation of our development agenda.

 

Your Excellencies

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen

Before concluding, let me implore all Gambians to demonstrate a keen sense of political maturity during the forthcoming National Assembly Elections. We must continue to demonstrate to the whole world how The Gambia has come of age and is poised to stand tall in both national and global matters.

 

 

Excellencies

Distinguished Guests

Fellow Gambians

Boys and Girls

 

In conclusion, let it be reiterated that the fundamentals of making this great nation an economic superpower have been clearly spelt out and created. The most vital building block to achieving this esteemed socio-economic status is the human resource base (that is, we the Gambian people), and this includes all Gambians both within the country and outside. We are the greatest and the most invaluable asset that can make all the difference in our development process. Together, we can overcome the obstacles and challenges ahead, but this requires unity, discipline, courage, dedication, resolve and steadfastness from everyone of us.

The road to making The Gambia an economic superpower is very clear and the objective is within sight, and there is no turning back. Let us unite for progress, dignity and freedom from poverty and destitution.

I wish you all a very peaceful and prosperous New Year and and pray that, together, we can attain all our development aspirations within the letter and spirit of one people, one nation, one voice and one destiny. May the Almighty Allah be with us at all times.

 

Long Live the Great Gambian nation!

Long Live the APRC!

Long Live African Solidarity!

Long Live the Friends of The Gambia!

Long Live the Progressive and Peace-loving people of nations!

 

I thank you for your kind attention

 

 

-End-

 

 

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