The Gambia needs a development blueprint from the government

 

Mr. President, it is more than 100 days since we, the sovereign citizens entrusted you with the mantle of leadership of our beloved country. Our expectations as a people and a country are high. We are with the hope that your leadership will bring us the most needed change we have been yearning for in decades. We are with the hope that, our education system, a rotten one for that matter, will be properly looked into to address our development needs as a people. We are with the hope that, our crippled economy will be brought into life through rapid promotion of both foreign and local investments couple with diversifying the sector to boost growth and productivity in order to meet the economic challenges of the 21st century and provide a good living for our people.

Mr. President, we are with the hope that, our deteriorating health care system will be fixed to significantly reduce deaths in both infant and maternal mortality, improve or increase our life expectancy rate and more importantly, build and sustain a healthy nation. We are with the hope that, our agricultural sector which has failed in the previous regime, considering the level of investment in the sector, yet yielded nothing but low productivity, poor management of projects and more disheartening, hunger among our people. We are with the hope that, our energy sector will equally be fixed to meet the demand of electricity supply across the country; in addition, providing clean drinking water to our people.

Mr. President, we are with the hope that, one of our most pressing issues, unemployment among our young people will be addressed so as to keep the human resource base of our country; indeed the most energetic ones and avoid brain drain which serves as a key challenge for our governments on the continent today. We are with the hope that, our workers will not be exploited to the profit need of the exploiters, rampant in both the public and private sectors, especially in the latter; but concomitantly and more importantly for that matter, we are with the hope that, our government will review the working conditions of Gambian workers and ensure that each and every worker lives a better life and die in dignity. We are with the hope that, our people living with disabilities will be fully integrated into society and be given the required training and position in life so as to become active players in national development endeavour.

Mr. President, we are with the hope that, our foreign policy will be directed towards countries that will first and foremost recognize and respect the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of our country and ensure that mutual interest is the ‘social contract’ or cornerstone of our relations. We are with the hope that, our various other sectors will undergo serious reforms to ensure that, over 50 years of underdevelopment in both human and other areas do not repeat itself. Mr. President, our country needs to move with minimum delay. We are very much cognizant of the fact that our transition has not been smooth and that the system inherited was a total bad one which we fully recognize and understand; but we must equally bear in mind that our development under no given circumstance can be adjourned. No one expects all these range of issues to be addressed anytime soon, but the surest way to address these challenges in short, medium and long-terms, is to have a proactive government with active citizens.

Today, no nation can be proud of its development gains without creating an aware citizenry through massive education which will inculcate the spirits of civic consciousness, patriotism, and service to the nation and humankind. No nation can equally be proud of its development gains, inclusively democracy, without building a robust and a sustainable economic base. It is for this reason that Afrifa Gitonga taught us that, ‘democracy works on full bellies and peaceful minds’.

In addition, no nation can be proud of its development gains without building the capacity of its people through training, the young ones for that matter, and additionally providing employment opportunities to in return boost the economy. No nation can as well be proud of its development gains without having a healthy population. Unfortunately Mr. President, Africa, especially the Gambia has a sick population.

From energy to Agriculture, trade and commerce etc, our government, the government you are leading must come up with a development blueprint that will guide its operation within the given mandate. This blueprint should serve as your action plan for the coming years in addressing these problems. In your statement on the 18th February, 2017, you briefly made mention of some of these sectors but did not tell us how you will fix them. Yes, we did not even expect you to tell us how to fix them in that statement, rather we expect these problems and their solutions to be documented in a clear blueprint in the form of an action plan that will guide our development under your leadership. Over 100 days in office without a development blueprint only sends a message of ‘no clear direction’. Aid in the forms of loans and grants are flowing from left right and center, but are their plans in place as to how these loans and grants will be utilized to address our problems? This is the fundamental question we are to ask ourselves? From 1994 to 2016, millions and billions of dollars and euros and pounds were pumped in. But with no clear direction, policy slippage and financial embezzlement brought us to this stage of underdevelopment. To avoid a replica of this, not only must the government under your leadership come up with a clear blueprint soonest, but a workable and an attainable (realistic one) to address the needs and aspirations of Gambians.

Yours in the service of the nation
Essa Njie

A sovereign and a concern Gambian citizen

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