URR celebrates Gambia’s 47th Independence anniversary
The Gambia’s 47 years of nationhood was Saturday celebrated in grand style by the people of the Upper River Region at the Mini-Stadium in Basse, Upper River Region.
This year’s independence celebration, with the theme, ‘All hands on deck as we march towards the attainment of economic superpower status’, was decentralised, thus giving opportunity to the regional governors to preside over the celebrations and deliver the independence statement of the president of the Republic, His Excellency Sheikh Professor Alhaji Dr Yahya Jammeh.
The celebration in URR was presided over by the governor Alhaji Omar Khan, who dressed in an immaculate traditional white gown. As usual, thousands of people from all walks of life converged on the Basse Mini-Stadium as early as 8:00am to observe the country’s Independence.
The governor of the region arrived at the mini-stadium with a rousing welcome being escorted in his motorcade. The celebrations began with the inspection of a guard of honour mounted by the personnel of the armed and security services of the country, as well as a march past by school children from various schools within the region, voluntary organisations, cultural troupes, amongst others. They marched past the governor who stood on the podium for nearly 15 minutes.
The celebration at the Basse Mini-Stadium was historic and symbolic, in view of the fact that it was the administrative headquarters of the region. In a statement read on behalf of the Gambian leader by governor Alhaji Omar Khan, President Jammeh said in the wake of the recent inaugural ceremony and the appointment of a new cabinet for his fourth consecutive five-year term, the independence celebration presents another opportunity to renew the pledges to redouble efforts for greater achievements in accordance with the determination to transmute The Gambia into an economic superpower.
The Gambian leader said his decisions; including the recent appointment of the new cabinet demonstrate his commitment to giving every genuine and patriotic Gambian a chance to serve the nation irrespective of affiliations. In his words: “Therefore, the call for all hands on deck is addressed to all and sundry; to all Gambians I say, come and join us so that we work together for good of every Gambian. I have pronounced that the current blueprint – Programme for Accelerated Growth and Employment (PAGE) sets out a clear path for us.
However, the pronouncements therein will never come to fruition without the requisite degree of commitment, determination and support from all Gambians. Going by the results of the last presidential election as an indicator, I am optimistic, though, that my government’s programmes will be supported wholesomely by the greater majority of the people. In consequence, my government will provide the political will, and we expect that the people will reciprocally defend and support my government in its drive for a new Gambia.”
In the march towards becoming an economic superpower, the Gambian leader stressed that it is crucial for every citizen to contribute in some way in filling the existing capacity and intervention gaps. “For instance, it is critical to enhance the growth of the industrial sector, which has an enormous potential for expansion. Strengthening entrepreneurship and skills development aimed at dented dependence on foreign expertise remains a huge challenge.
Training and retaining such highly qualified personnel as professionals, managers, administrators and strategists, amid innovative investment initiatives and strategic appropriation of funds, similarly linger on as relevant areas of attention. We must not waver in the quest for excellence, nor must we turn back from this march to superpower status,” he remarked.
He further asserted that for The Gambia to become an economic superpower, it would require a new breed of patriots who appreciate their heritage, cooperate for the welfare of all and provide support in the interest of the nation, and are uncompromisingly determined and committed to the nation.“A new global status calls for a new culture of doing things, while maintaining our identity and dignity. As a pre-condition, let us believe in our vision we proclaim, commit ourselves to it and work steadily towards its realisation.
Therefore, let there be a sharp and undivided focus and on the people and their communities aimed at transforming the negative subcultures that hamper progress. All of us need to be conscious of our various roles as leaders, youths, elders, professionals, public servants, partners and friends and play those roles with unshakable sincerity. I have entered into socio-political contract of developing the nation as enunciated in my inaugural address.
Nonetheless, you the citizens of this nation must also enter an explicitly irreversible contract with government to play your role to the fullest. The space to do this has been created and would be widened to as a far as you need within the precincts of the law. No Gambian will be overburden, restrained or constrained by any form of bureaucratic procedures and legislative barriers to participate legally in national development,” he stated.
While applauding students, pupils, and all other organisations, the president also paid tribute to the parents and urged the students and pupils to work hard with utmost seriousness. “The future is yours, but this is so only if you realize it and prepare yourselves sufficiently to take charge when the time ripens,” he said, while calling on them to pay heed to their teachers, and arm themselves with applicable knowledge and skills, be guided by values and the moral character needed for useful citizenship.
Among the thousands of celebrants included Alhaji Ganyie Touray, governor of the Central River Region; Alhaji Momodou Sanyang, director general of the Gambia Radio and Television Services; Yankuba Colley, mayor of KMC; deputy governor of URR, Momodou S. Jallow; heads of various security units in the region; heads of institutions and departments; councilors, senior government officials, National Assembly members, members of the Judiciary, school children, cultural activists, amongst a host of others.
The ceremony was co-chaired by Lieutenant Paul Gomez, commander of Basse Barracks and Momodou G. Jallow, Principal Education officer at the Regional Education Directorate of Region 6.