Fellow Gambians and Residents of The Gambia,
With humility and joy, I thank the Almighty God for the blessing of witnessing this joyful moment, marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan. As we look forward to celebrating the feast of Eid-el-Fitr, locally referred to as Koriteh, I congratulate all Muslims on the occasion. Generally, Ramadan is regarded as a blessed period associated with repentance, piety and abstinence from wrongdoing. It is a month in which acts of charity, good neighbourliness and discipline in both spiritual and worldly life are encouraged and practised. Having sought forgiveness, mercy and blessings during the holy month, we should be guided by the same spirit, and continue to promote togetherness, peace and stability.
Fellow Gambians, I cannot fail to seize this opportunity to address some pressing national issues of security and public safety. As we all know, peace and stability form the bedrock for development. It is regretted, therefore, that there have been disturbing reports of domestic violence in our communities and criminal acts of drug abuse, theft, destruction of property and other forms of crimes. These crimes pose a threat to peace and stability, and can hamper our development efforts.
The incident reported in Sanyang is a case in point. It is alarming that Gambian youths can take the law into their own hands to the extent of destroying a police station, looting businesses and displacing law-abiding persons who had amicably integrated themselves into the Gambian community.
The impact of that incident affected the lives of a whole community. It dislodged people who had investments in the country and were peacefully earning their livelihoods in the area. I am also aware of cases of domestic violence, leading to the death of two young persons in one instance. Crimes that were unknown in the country, such as kidnapping and daylight robbery, are gradually becoming common news headlines. Yet, the TRRC has been set up for reparation and reconciliation, as reflected in their “never again” slogan.
There are legal ways of expressing our views or taking action against any offence or perceived injustice, and they are meant to be followed. Despite the dark period of our history, The Gambia is known for peace and stability. Gambians are recognised as peace-loving, tolerant and accommodating people who coexist peacefully. This is why the country earned the accolade “the smiling coast.”
In the past four years, my government has consistently promoted freedom and other democratic values that would bring back our smiles in a peaceful and stable environment. Unfortunately, some people are taking these values for granted, and are conducting themselves in ways that undermine our security. Disregard for the rule of law is disruptive. As a result, I ask all citizens and residents of the country to act responsibly in order to advance peace and development.
The Government is determined to fight crime in accordance with the law. To succeed, everyone has to support the Gambia Police Force to accomplish their Operation Zero Crime campaign. Let us provide any useful information on criminals and criminal tendencies, and cooperate as a united force.
Fellow Gambians and Residents of The Gambia, In observing Eid-el-Fitr, let us reflect on our performance in our various areas of engagement, and adopt innovative ways and means of advancing the socio-economic development of the country. In this way, Ramadan would have a positive impact on life in the country. With reference to Government, in 2019, my Administration increased the salaries of civil servants by 50% and pensioners by 100%, in a bid to further improve the living conditions of workers. However, the impact of COVID-19 on livelihoods has been severe.
In view of this, my government will never cease to explore all feasible avenues to make work conditions more conducive. To reflect briefly on Government performance, it is assuring to note that the implementation status of the infrastructure projects in the country is quite satisfactory.
The construction works of the roads, bridges, stadiums and markets are advancing very well. The achievements made so far are a result of our strong determination to pursue an all-inclusive approach to development. The light up Kiang project, which is part of the National Road Map to create reliable, accessible and affordable electricity countrywide, attests to this.
The inputs and equipment provided in the Agriculture sector also confirm our commitment to development. Our objective is to support the farming community so that agriculture is transformed from subsistence farming to agric-business. This is an effective way to address the price hikes of essential commodities and avert food insufficiency.
To achieve our goals, I reiterate my call for every citizen to support the Government’s development efforts by engaging in productive ventures. The responsibility rests on all Gambians to participate actively in improving their lives and overcoming the unnecessary reliance on food importation.
At this juncture, I must acknowledge the important role of the business community and the entire private sector in national development. We assure you all that the Government will always provide the policy environment for businesses to thrive, and ease the cost burden on families.
In this regard, all those who can, should explore the business opportunities in the country. Fellow Gambians and Residents of The Gambia, This year is significant on our political calendar, as it marks the processes towards the Presidential election in December. Let me emphasise that there are laws governing these processes, which have to be respected.
These include the requirements for voter registration and voting. Therefore, I call on all citizens to abide by the lawfully. For its part, Government will ensure a peaceful end of the current democratic transitory period. As individuals, we will always have differences, but we must safeguard the common purpose of maintaining a peaceful and progressive Gambia. To maintain peace and stability in the country, and in the spirit of reconciliation, I urge you all to redouble your efforts to put heads together and join hands for the betterment of the country.
Fellow Gambians and Residents of The Gambia, As we celebrate the Eid, let us be mindful that the Coronavirus is still real, and act with caution. The progress made in developing and administering vaccines is commendable. Nevertheless, the world remains threatened by new waves of the Coronavirus pandemic, which is disrupting socioeconomic activities further. Therefore, continue to follow the advice of the health experts, and take your COVID-19 vaccine. Together, let us pray for peace, and in remembering the sick, the less fortunate and the departed souls, let us pray for them also.
I wish you all a blessed Koriteh.