As The Gambia commemorates 55 years of independence from British colonial rule on Tuesday, the West African country’s leader reiterated his call for unity. President Adama Barrow rejected the idea that the country belongs to a political party or a political ideology, insisting that Gambia belongs to all.
“Politics is not about the language we speak or the ethnic group we identify with. It is about the nation and its development and future,” President Adama Barrow told a mammoth crowd that stormed McCarthy Square in Banjul to witness celebrations marking 55 years of nationhood.
Three years back, Gambians voted out ex-President Yahya Jammeh, putting an end to lismore than two-decade long regime. As the new democratic dispensation is taking shape, authorities are confronted with mounting challenges. A polarised political spectrum continues to raise concerns about the country’s ability to preserve peace while achieving the promises of a better future.
But President Barrow reminded Gambians that they are all tasked with the moral and civic obligation of safeguarding the future of this country. “[A]nd remember, in the process, that history will judge us, sooner or later,” President Barrow said.
Re-echoing his commitment to democracy and rule of law, Mr. Barrow said this should compel everyone to maintain peace and stability by allowing justice to take its course.
“Today, we can all look back and, with relief, celebrate and embrace democracy, good governance and the rule of law,” he added.
As massive consultations were initiated on issues affecting the nation, Gambian leader assured that the policies and instruments will continue to broaden the horizon.
“Never have Gambians been given the space to participate so genuinely and passionately as witnessed recently on the draft Constitution, the Commissions, the Presidency, the economy and various other aspects of governance,” he said.
Authorities have embarked on a number of constitutional and institutional reforms. Through a consultative process, Gambians have been provided with the opportunity to make their voices heard.
“As free citizens in an Independent state,” Barrow went on, “information is accessed readily on radio, television and other media outlets without censure. “Indeed, Gambians are truly enjoying political independence!” he exclaimed with a tone of satisfaction.
Towards Economic Independence?
While acknowledging that economic freedom is ideal, Barrow emphasized the need for Gambians to understand that we are tied to an “interdependent world where nations and organisations must depend on one another.”
But he was quick to add: “However, it is incumbent upon us to exploit our talents and abilities to be innovative and productive, and to initiate or contribute to value addition processes.”
The Gambian leader called for an introspection that would allow every Gambian weigh in on his/her shortcomings and challenges.
“The responsibility is collective for us to create jobs, create opportunities, create income for economic development and generate capacity to develop holistically,” he pointed out.
Far from losing faith in the country’s ability to overcome the hurdles that are laying ahead, President Barrow seized the opportunity to draw the attention of Gambians to the key challenges they are confronted with. He then expressed hope that this can be solved if Gambians are able to “reconcile their differences, maintain peace and stability, law and order, progress and development.”
“Fundamentally, we must avoid acting against the national interest,” he remarked.