Muhammed S. Bah Reporting
On 31 March 2016, President Jammeh addressed the National Assembly. Section 77 subsection (1) of the Constitution requires the president at least once every year to attend a sitting of the National Assembly and address a session on the condition of The Gambia, the policies of the Government and the administration of the State. It is important that every citizen digests how the Government has performed in the past year and what they have in stock this year and the years to come. We have been publishing the full text of the statement. We continue from where we stopped.
WORKS, INFRASTRUCTURE AND NATIONAL ASSEMBLY MATTERS
Mr. Speaker, My Government will continue to invest in public infrastructure which is a sine qua non for rapid socio economic development. We have made significant progress in this regard by ensuring that most major settlements and growth centres are connected by a paved road network system complemented by electric power and potable water systems.
In 2016, construction of the long awaited Laminkoto – Passimas road will begin and if completed, the whole country on either side of the river Gambia would be connected by a paved road network.
The second phase of the Banjul International Airport Improvement Project would be complete. Through this project the apron and taxi .way are being upgraded and expanded i n order to accommodate more and bigger aircraft. A new air navigation instrument landing system will be installed and the on-going new fire and rescue station will be completed and fully equipped. At the end of this project, the airport will be more competitive and would have attained the highest standards both in terms of infrastructure and safety.
Mr. Speaker, with regard to the sea port in Banjul, the Gambia Ports Authority will in 2016 intensify efforts to seek partners within the framework of Government’s Public Private Partnership, to develop and expand the seaport. The Gambia Ports Authority will in 2016 commence the construction of a new Kanilai type ferry at Damen Shipyard in Holland. The ferry is designed to have separate decks for passengers and vehicles. We are also working on building a Deep Sea Port by 2021 inshallah.
INFORMATION, COMMUNICATION INFRASTRUCTURE
The objective of my Government is to transform the Gambia into a digital economy where trade and commerce will be conducted using information and communication technology supported by the ACE submarines cable system. My government acknowledges that for our economy to be more competitive, the ICT infrastructure must be enhanced hence our decision to be part of the ACE consortium.
As we pursue the transformation to a digital economy, the Ministry of Communication and Communication Infrastructure is drafting a National ICT Agency Bill which will be tabled before the National Assembly in 2016 for enactment. The National ICT Agency will be responsible for the coordination, establishment and sustainable execution of national ICT programmes. Its setting up will help create a highly qualified and competent technical team to effectively manage national ICT systems and networks that are becoming more and more sophisticated and complex.
Mr. Speaker, My government will continue to upgrade the capacity and provide equipment for the men and women of our national security outfits to strengthen the security of our dear country. Despite this effort, security agents cannot be present everywhere and every time. Therefore, I enjoin all Gambians to be security conscious and report violations of the law and any suspicious activity to the nearest security outfit be it the Police, Immigration, or Drug Law Enforcement agents.
Mr. Speaker peace and Security looms large in the minds of politicians and policymakers especially in recent times when the world situation is more volatile and major threats compounded by civil strife in the Middle East, Africa and Eastern Europe cause major insecurity and displacement of people in many parts of the world.
For Africa and our West Africa region in particular, the Gambia continues to participate in all of the African Union and ECOWAS in the process of peaceful negotiation and mediation in conflicts. Also our efforts take into consideration the potential threat of terrorism and other destabilizing crimes such a trafficking and banditry that make populations vulnerable and bring about socio economic problems for regional governments.
In the search for peace and in the monitoring of conflicts, our Government will continue to participate in peacekeeping operations and all productive interventions that could bring about regional stability.
This policy will always be complemented by strict monitoring of the security environment so as to ward off any potential threats to national security within our borders and beyond.
Let me reiterate that Africa must have a concerted effort in resolving ‘conflicts and monitoring activities in hot spots but we must be in charge of our security apparatus and not to leave it to the control of outside forces whose interests might be detrimental to the African interest and economic progress.
Mr. Speaker, in the area of foreign policy and international relations, my government remains relentless in its subscription to the principles of good-neighborliness, non-interference in the internal affairs of nations and the legal equality of nations irrespective of demographic and economic size. Our upholding of these principles relates to our firm and unshakable commitment to the values of justice, fair play, peace and security as well as mutual respect for the identity, dignity and sovereignty of nations regardless of racial and religious affiliation. In this respect, my Government will not hesitate to stand up against injustice, racism, terrorism and crimes against humanity.
In promoting these objectives, I wish to inform this assembly that my government will table a UN General Assembly Resolution on Slavery and Colonialism to declare these barbaric chapters in human history as crimes against humanity and for the nations that perpetrated these crimes to be obligated to reparations and unconditional apologies. I am also delighted to inform this august assembly that my Government has secured the endorsement of both the African Union and the Organisation of the Islamic Cooperation. And because of the common experience between African and Caribbean countries, we are quite hopeful of the support of Caribbean Governments. Meanwhile, however, as part of the intensive sensitization and awareness creation activities, my government will organize an international colloquium on the themes of the resolution along with the Roots Homecoming Festival in May, 2016.
Mr. Speaker, before concluding, I wish to reiterate my congratulations to you and through you to all national assembly members for carrying out your responsibility to enact the laws that govern this country effectively and to the satisfaction of the citizenry. I also commend you for effectively following through your prerogative of appropriating the scarce financial resources to operate the executive, judicial and the legislative branches of Government through your PAC/PEC sessions that scrutinize expenditure to ensure that it is done in accordance with laid down financial and procurement procedures. This institutionalisation of transparency and accountability by the PAC/PEC mechanism has strengthened and improved financial and economic governance in this country.
Mr. Speaker, this has clearly indicated that the relationship between the Executive and the legislative branches of Government in the Second Republic does not mirror a fusion of powers as was the practice in the First Republic. While Governmental powers and responsibilities are too complex and interrelated to be neatly compartmentalized, it is very clear that we have been able to define our responsibilities distinctly without any attempt to usurp each other’s core functions.
Yet, Mr. Speaker, we have also been successful in forging harmony between the Executive and the legislative branches of Government. We thank Allah SWT for the continued blessings and guidance that have enabled us to respond to the challenges of national socio-economic development within the context of a multiparty system and representative branches of government with complementary responsibilities and with effective use of the principles of discretion and prerogative in the interest of all Gambians. This is a contribution of the Second Republic to the history of constitutionalism and governance in the Gambia and we should all guard and further develop this legacy to ensure that it is not compromised or tarnished.
I also thank very sincerely, the Gambian women and youths who have turned out in their large numbers today as usual to convey their love, loyalty and support to me and their Dear Motherland. May the ALMIGHTY ALLAH BLESS US all abundantly so that we can vanquish all the evil forces of this World
On this note Mr. Speaker, distinguished audience and Patriotic and ALLAH Fearing Good people of this great country, I thank you all for your attention.
AS SALAMU ALAIKUM WARAH MATULLAHIWABARAKATUH