5th gov’t retreat begins
Wednesday, July 11, 2012
The fifth government retreat marking the first in 2012 began yesterday morning in Kanilai. The convergence presided over by the president of the Republic, His Excellency Sheikh Professor Alhaji Dr Yahya Jammeh, brings together the top echelon of the government machinery, notably Cabinet ministers, permanent secretaries among other technocrats, to look at the achievements registered in various sectors, and to chart out ways of addressing the existing gaps in meeting the set goals and targets.
inception, the retreat has become a vital part of the government’s development
strategies that intend to provide interaction at policy level, for the
technicians and the cabinet over key national development issues.
Declaring the synergy opened, the Gambian leader gave a brief account of the developments registered in his government ranging from Infrastructure to Health, Education, and Agriculture. The forum also availed President Jammeh the opportunity to express optimism for a better crop season in 2012.
“I had all
the optimism that we are going to have bumper harvest in 2012 because of two
unprecedented events. For the first time in the history of the country, we
issued a huge number of tractors to the best farmers [Women] of this country.
When we went around, we saw a huge space of lands being cleared to the extent
that I was also worried that our forest may go. Everybody was in high gear with
high expectations of a bumper harvest but the Almighty Allah decided that you are
not going to have it.
We have come a long way in the goals of national
development and objectives that we set for ourselves, but are we half way no?
Because we have not even traveled 25 percent of the journey, so we have a long
way to go despite our achievements for which we should all be grateful to
Almighty Allah. I want something better than that and I see no reason why we
can’t do it.
Very soon we will be celebrating the 18th years of the July 22nd Revolution and we have a lot to celebrate but we also have a lot to buckle ourselves and now the question is 18th years, couldn’t we have done better? Is it the fault of anybody that is why the Almighty Allah said we are going to get it within 18 years, shouldn’t we be proud of it? We should because if you compare 18 years to 30 years, the story is different but better still compare 18 years to 400 years you will realise that Gambians have lot to be grateful to the Almighty Allah,” he said.
continued: “ 18 years of my government, we have uncountable schools, and
400years, two missionary schools and two so-called hospitals and not a single
Gambian trained by the colonial government to be a doctor. Thirty years, we
didn’t have Gambian doctors trained by the Gambia government and 18 years we
have almost ninety doctors home grown and home trained.
For four hundred and
thirty years, we had a poultry house turned into a so-called teacher training
college that is all and the highest accolade you can get was HTC or be a
qualified teacher. Eighteen years, we have a world-renowned university. For
four hundred years, Gambians couldn’t obtain a diploma in their own country and
for four hundred and thirty years, you cannot have a bachelor’s degree in your
own country but in 18 years our brothers and sisters are obtaining masters
degrees in our own country. Shouldn’t we be proud of it?”
He further went on to state that over four hundred years ago, there was only one road from Banjul to Basse and in 18 years we have up to four hundred kilometers of high standard quality roads one of the best in West Africa. He added that for now, the North Bank Region has one of the best roads, therefore people have a cause to celebrate the 22nd July Revolution.
leader stressed that these are achievements that are unprecedented in the whole
of West Africa including mineral and oil rich countries in which Gambians can
raise their hands anywhere saying “We have a reason to celebrate the Revolution
but what is more important in our celebration is that we must always be
grateful to the Almighty Allah.
Though we have problems to solve, but we can still develop faster than the rate we are. Thirty years of independence was not able to brighten our way from Banjul down to where we are but 18 years of Revolution had earned us more than just that. So, we have a course to celebrate our 18 years of Revolution”.
He described best and good governance as providing and serving ones people by alleviating and moving them from stone age to the 21st Century and that is exactly what the APRC government is doing and that is where democracy stops.
“We have a long way to go and we need to buckle ourselves and a little bit of sacrifice. Those who made Japan what it is today, work for longer hours to get it to where it is today. We have gone 18 years, we need half of 50years to become world economic super power and by the grace of Almighty Allah we will be there,” he said.
years of the so-called democratic government, according to President Jammeh
brought nothing to the Gambia but tribalism, misery and division and more
backwardness. “What they
called dictatorship today with violations of human rights made Gambians proud
people in 18 years and in 400 years, those same people who branded us dictators
never allowed Gambian people to vote in their own country.
The worst thing at that time was that Gambians were only trained to be clerks and even the secretary to the colonial governor was brought from UK and now they are telling us democracy. For four hundred years of democracy, we were going backwards, but in 18 years we have four presidential elections that are more democratic than when they were here. Then where is the democracy?
earlier, the secretary general and head of the Civil Service, Dr Njogu Bah in
his welcome remarks, thanked the entire gathering for what he called an
impressive response to the call to national duty at a very short notice. This,
according to him, is an indication of the commitment on the side of the entire
government machinery towards national development.
retreat is historic by all accounts taking place virtually right on the eve of
not only a watershed moment but also an epoch effort making experience which
has positively and profoundly transformed the socio-economic life of the great
people of this country. Arguably the most significant single event that has
indisputably touched the life of all Gambians and provides hope and aspiration
for all is no other than the July 22nd Revolution of 1994. It is clear that the
Revolution and its achievements are not handed over on silver platoon.
peaceful and popular take over was greeted with disquiet by elements within the
international community followed by crippling unjustifiable sanctions against
our people. The skeptics, detractors, and pundits alike provided various
conflicting scenarios on the future of the Revolution but all agreed on one
thing that the government of the former AFPRC under the leadership of then
Lieutenant Yahya Jammeh will collapse under the weight of the sanctions within
at most, three months,” he said.
to him, the country thanks to the visionary leadership of the His Excellency
Sheikh Professor Alhaji Dr Yahya Jammeh has not only defied the cynics but has
triumphantly weathered the storm and the country in fact is now on a threshold
of achieving a middle income status enunciated in our development blueprint,
especially the PAGE. This, he went on, is achieved thanks to the dynamic
leadership and foresight of President Jammeh.
SG Bah further stated that anyone who knows President Jammeh knows that giving up in the face of difficulties is not at all in his DNA as he [Jammeh] knows well that balancing optimism and realism intuition and planning faith and fact can be very difficult but that is what he believes and takes to being an effective leader. He then called for a standing ovation and congratulated President Jammeh warmly on the advent of the 18th anniversary of the July 22nd anniversary.
In the spirit of the July 22nd anniversary, SG Bah used the forum on behalf of President Jammeh to pay tribute to all well meaning Gambians and non-Gambians alike who had contributed in any form towards the accomplishment of the leadership’s noble vision for the country.
“There are lot of challenges and quite a number of development targets remain unaccomplished. Therefore, I have no doubt that we will remain diligently dutiful and engage rather than rest on our laurels on the accounts of what we have accomplished so far,” he concluded.
For her part, the vice president and minister of Women’s Affairs, Aja Dr Isatou Njie, began her remarks by thanking the people of Kanilai for the continuous hospitality accorded to them.
Shetalked about the various policies put
in place by the government and their importance. She also thanked the permanent
secretaries for their report on their just concluded retreat. This report
according to her, was comprehensive and has updated them on various issues of
concern that had made them better prepared today to enable them discuss all
these gamut of issues before them.
VP Njie-Saidy used the opportunity to challenge her colleagues to continue to tighten their belts and plan better despite the limited resources at their disposal. “Because if you have limited resources, it means that you have to prioritise areas but that has already been done in the past retreats,” she added.
While calling on the private sector and the civil society to also emulate other donor partners, Madam Njie-Saidy urged development partners to come in and collaborate with them. She then joined the SG in thanking President Jammeh for the developments registered within the 18th years of his leadership and congratulated him in advance on the July 22nd anniversary.
Cole-Ceesay, secretary to Cabinet who chaired the opening ceremony said the
convergence demonstrates the importance government attaches to the relevance of
and quality envisaged in the output of the retreat with a view to accelerating
the attainment of the Vision 2020, through the PAGE and related national endeavours.
The opening ceremony was characterised by a well-cheering standing ovation to President Jammeh for all the awards he won from July 22nd 1994 to date.
Author: Musa Ndow