richness of leadership is the ability to accommodate, listen and provide advice
and guidance to the people who entrust you with the leadership. While Sulayman Bah UK would like to present
Honourable Halifa Sallah’s speech to his audience in UK as incredible, it is
important to move beyond political canvassing and polemics to provide facts on
the realities of the country we all love.
allow me to shed light on the issues Sulayman Bah UK attributed to Honourable
Sallah regarding the situation since December 2016.
is no secret that in December 2016, over 200,000 Gambians, took practical steps
to vote in Adama Barrow as leader of the Coalition. Hundreds of thousands more
invested their energy, time and financial resources to ensure we give The
Gambia a new beginning. These are people
committed to uplift the lives of Gambians with dignity and respect. While the levels of sacrifices differ from
one person or group to the other, all the sacrifices must be commended and
respected. As a reminder, in case some
forgot, the Coalition government until the time of this publication is made of
Democratic Party for Independent and Socialism
People Progressive party
People Democratic Party
Isatou Touray -Independent Presidential Aspirant
all those who were committed to the change, should continue to guard, guide and
requires teamwork where no one person alone can make a difference but a
combination of efforts to change a system.
The fact that it was reported in FOROYAA that Honourable Halifa stated
that “…Despite defeating Jammeh after 22 years of self-perpetuation …from the
Coalition government, nothing seems to have improved the living standard of
ordinary Gambians…” needs reflection.
remark by Hon. Halifa Sallah insinuating that nothing has changed to improve
the lives of the people and comparing this government to the former dictatorial
regime is a distortion of facts. This is unfair given the efforts that are
already in place by this government with the support of Gambians to move away
from the difficult era of the former regime.
is therefore important to take a good lens to capture those efforts and what
has changed since “The Gambia is in the hands of its citizens” to see how the
Coalition government is not “reminiscent of the APRC government days”.
first expression of change that is not “reminiscent of the APRC government
days” is that citizens found their voice.
They are now free to express their opinion without fear or favour and
can go home and not fear that at 3:00 a.m, someone in the name of the
government would drag them out of their house and deny their family the right
to even know why they are being taken away.
the Coalition Government took over, the vehicular traffic at the Gambia Ports
Authority bringing basic commodities among others has exceeded the current
capacity of the Ports to handle. This increase in economic activity is a result
of the conducive business environment created by this government leading to the
stability of prices of basic commodities which are in fact generally going
down. It is also important to know that government has already taken the
decision for the port to operate 24 hours creating more employment and
improving timely service delivery.
Barrow government has reduced the price of fuel three times in less than a year
with its positive rippling effects on commodity prices and availability across
Gambia has moved from regional and global isolation to a state of recognition
and respect; and a new dawn of hope for its citizens. Traditional partners have regained confidence
to engage the Barrow government in mutual respect and support to garner the
desires and hopes of the citizens. This
is not symptomatic of “poor policies and poor leadership.”
now live in a connected and interdependent world where governments/countries
collaborate and work in partnership to support each other in the interest of
mutual sustainable development. As part
of international cooperation, countries acquire grants, loans and other forms
of support including foreign direct investment to help grow their
economies. No country relies solely on
taxation to move its development agenda and to put it bluntly no nation is
self-sufficient. The Gambia is no
exception and does not accrue enough tax to be able to execute all its
its policies to partners both within and outside for support as well as fiscal
discipline have improved the foreign exchange reserve from its precarious state
of less than one month import cover with a debt burden of 120% beyond the
recommended 70% debt of any country to 4 months. It is unfortunate that this is interpreted as
a nation relying on “charity” for its development.
performances of some State Owned Enterprises –such as NAWEC, GNPC and
GAMTEL/GAMCEL, were low and government had to step in to settle their external
obligations, thus putting undue pressure on the Gambian Dalasi and the reserve
is clear that there needs to be a structural change to the budget and
prioritization of growth enhancing expenditure such as development projects.
Without these measures increasing salaries will be extremely unwise at this
order to improve the economic environment, the Coalition government is engaged
in initiating difficult measures to deal with the numerous challenges resulting
from poor economic governance of the former regime. These include but are not limited to Public
sector restructuring and rationalization plan, implementation of a government
vehicle policy and business travel policies.
change of government has boosted youth confidence and self esteem. The new
administration’s policy on youth is to enlighten them on their rights and
empower youths to take responsibility to initiate, innovate and contribute to
nation building and most are not relying on government to build their lives. The
first project signed by the new Government is centered around youth empowerment
through funding from the European Union (EU). The 11million Euro Project focuses
on youth employment creation in the areas of agribusiness, ICT and Tourism
aiming to provide high quality skills training for potential youth
entrepreneurs and startups. This project includes a mini grant and loan scheme
for youth Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). To effectively respond to the
needs of young people not just as a cross cutting issue in our development
frameworks as it used to exist in the Gambia, a whole component on youth
empowerment and development has been incorporated in the National Development
Plan (NDP). Similarly, a specific pillar on youth has also been incorporated in
the ongoing development of The Gambia National Agriculture Investment Plan
(GNAIP) 2 to comprehensively address the issues of youth in The Gambia.
has also been an increased space for youth political participation in the new
dispensation. The Gambia can today be proud of the democratic space that
guarantees freedom of expression. During the last National Assembly Election
young people of The Gambia worked with all stakeholders to improve awareness on
youth engagement and to increase their number in the political space through
the #NotTooYoungToRun campaign. The Gambia is today hailed as having one of the
youngest elected members in the National Assembly in the sub region.
cannot be “reminiscent of APRC government days” when every youth’s desire was
to leave the country. Gambians in exile
are returning home to contribute to nation building and to nurture the
agriculture, the Coalition government encourages and empowers farmers to work
on their own farms to “reap what they sow” and ordinary citizens are not forced
to spend valuable time on the President’s farm. It has provided farmers $25 million
worth of fertilizer and seeds. This definitely
is not “reminiscent of APRC government days”.
waste management, the new government encourages people to use their conscience
and commitment to environment sanitation to clean the environment and manage
the domestic waste it produces and not force people and businesses to stop all
activities to clean their environment and at the end of the day does not have
the mechanism to collect and dispose the waste.
The Coalition government has improved daily management of waste at the
dump site at Bakoteh and has further committed to waste management through a
Public Private Partnership which seeks to provide a comprehensive solution to
waste management in The Gambia.
Coalition government inherited bad institutional policies and practices. To
change such a system will require having knowledge of the depth of destruction
in our institutions, policies to institutionalize best practices and committed
citizens to execute the plan to implement the policies. It requires re-orientation of the workforce
and commitment to the nation and not an individual. It is misplaced to state a
comparison and conclude that the new regime is “reminiscent of APRC government
APRC Government had the opportunity to amend the Constitution removing the
barriers to enable eligible Gambians in the Diaspora to vote or be voted for.
Did they do it? Of course no. It is not the new government that deprived the
Diaspora from voting and contesting to be President, National Assembly Member or
Councilor. In fact the new government is
in the process of drafting a new Constitution that will accommodate all
Gambians to take part in the political, economic and social life of the
country. The new government recorded the
highest number of contestants in the National Assembly election, a
demonstration of a vibrant democracy where people feel that they own the
nation. This cannot be “reminiscent of
APRC government days”, when if it was known that citizens aspired for political
positions, their lives were in danger and could result to torture, maiming and
even death of citizens.
judiciary has been “Gambianised” by encouraging our legal luminaries to serve the
country with dedication to justice with the appointment of a Gambian as Chief
Justice. Gender representation was also given consideration with the
appointment of numerous female Judges at the superior courts.
Coalition government is working to ensure that citizens recognize the damage
that has been done to the nation and its organs of management and
governance. No sincere person will
expect the new government to increase government pay. Instead the government has to further cut on
its expenditure. For instance the office
of the President had cut expenditure by 75% since the new administration came
Coalition government under the leadership of President Adama Barrow empowers
all citizens to work together to build a country we can all be proud of. That is why Halifa Sallah was offered the opportunity
to bring in his “policies” that will not subject the government to rely on
others to develop the country. He
rejected to take a position that would give him the responsibility to get the
nation out of the situation in which it relies on others to give it
charity. It is easier for Hon. Sallah to
criticize than take responsibility where he can be accountable to the people.