Fellow Gambians, the year 2021 was a very eventful period in our history. Significant milestones have been achieved, notably the completion of the consultations and submission of a draft constitution that for all intents and purposes reflects the sovereign will and aspirations of the Gambian people, as well as the completion and submission of the highly acclaimed report of the TRRC. These two achievements were the central pillars of the Gambia’s much heralded transitional justice programme. We all know that the draft constitution on which no less than D110 million was spent to make it has been jettisoned to the waste bin. It is very likely that the TRRC report may suffer a similar fate , if the recent political maneuvers reveal the political leanings of the executive.
However, we have just concluded a very peaceful and orderly presidential election. I congratulate all the candidates and indeed the entire people of The Gambia for their tolerance, patience, maturity and indulgence in ensuring that the process was enviable and admirable in many respects. More significantly however, our democracy has been strengthened and the value of respect for and resort to the law as the arbiter of societal disputes equally reinforced. In essence, while our democracy is not perfect, it works. As such, we have become a shining example of a tolerant, peaceful and law abiding country.
Unfortunately however, all is not well. The ugly face of tribalism has reared it’s head during and the post electioneering period. If this is not tamed, shackled and buried it could upset the peace and democracy dividends our country currently enjoys. Additionally, the propensity of the executive to sacrifice our highly important and very expensive transitional justice programme at the altar of political expediency is quite worrisome. These critical issues together with the unbridled prices of basic commodities, massive youth unemployment, lack of opportunities for the youth, women and other vulnerable groups as well as the poor infrastructure and non-existent healthcare system set a very daunting agenda for our country in the not too distant future.
Fellow Gambians, while this litany of imperatives may appear daunting, they are not insurmountable. We have unyielding faith in the ability of Gambians to achieve durable solutions to difficult problems even against the odds. The responsibility belongs to all of us (whether we are in government or not), to work arduously for the alleviation of the plight of our people. With greater unity and patriotism, less corruption and more rule of law and good governance and a healthy dose of meritocracy, we would be able to achieve the development goals of our people.
As we welcome and celebrate the new year, we should recognize that the elections are essentially over and that the dust has basically settled, even if not completely. And so should the petty bickering, unhelpful political noise, tribal tantrums from all and every quarter as well as the divisive rhetoric. We should all, as patriotic citizens, (be we in government or in opposition or as private citizens) re-channel our energies towards working for the betterment of our country and uplifting the lives of our people. Irrespective of our political differences (perceived or otherwise), we must all be united with the goals of strengthening the unity and cohesion of the entire Gambian people and improving their living conditions and economic well-being.
While wishing all Gambians a very joyous and prosperous 2022, I challenge our government to honour its promise to our people by delivering on their wishes and aspirations . For those of us on the other side of the aisle, we must also remain steadfast in our obligation to drive the people’s’ agenda and to hold the government accountable for its actions.
As we embrace 2022, we pray and look forward to a better and accessible health care for all, greater opportunities for the women, youth and other vulnerable groups and livable wages and better living conditions for the people.
#Long live the people of The Gambia
#More Unity and No more tribalism
#Better GAMBIA for all
Essa Mbye Faal