PRESIDENT BARROW’S KORITEH MESSAGE 2024

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Fellow Gambians, at home and abroad,

Friends and Residents of The Gambia,

Once again, we devote thanks and praise to Allah for living to witness another Eid-ul-Fitr.  With this gift of life and other Divine mercies in mind, the moment should encourage us to remember and pray for the sick and seek Allah’s forgiveness and mercy for those we lost during the year.

Because Eid-ul-Fitr brings joy and renewed faith, it is an occasion to express gratitude for completing the spiritual duty of fasting during the Holy month of Ramadan.

In various ways, Ramadan comes with spiritual and moral lessons for our general wellbeing. It is a period that reminds us of our duty to support the less privileged, while legally enjoying the bounties bestowed upon us.

This includes those struck by calamities, such as hunger, unrest, and natural disasters.

Fellow Citizens,

As we prepare to feast tomorrow, we must not forget that there are many ongoing conflicts and wars in various parts of the world, leading to widespread loss of live and huge destruction of infrastructure and property. Innocent children, women, and men are unjustly killed by the day due to intolerance and mere hatred.

The Israeli war on Palestine provides typical examples of such grave crimes. It is sad that while we were fasting during the Holy month, Palestinian Muslims could not do so in peace. Sadly, in addition to all the sufferings associated with war, displacement, and hunger, they will not enjoy the blessings Eid brings.  

Within the ECOWAS sub-region, the adverse economic realities resulting from the global crises and the internal political tensions in our nations still remain  relentless. Undue hostilities and social divisions characterise the sub-region because of the urge for personal gain. People fight for political advantage,  not to build better communities and nations but for personal interests. The outcome is the existing state of instability and insecurity that threatens us all.

Notwithstanding the threats, it is comforting that democracy continues to thrive. We have demonstrated it here in The Gambia, and the sister Republic of Senegal has remarkably preserved its political image as a democratic model on the African continent.  

It is manifestly clear that despite the different political approaches and beliefs people may hold, with strong institutions and respect for all the basic principles of democracy, constitutionality, peace, and stability would reign in every nation.

I seize this opportunity to congratulate the new President, Government, and People of Senegal on their peaceful Presidential election and transfer of power.   

This development highlights the importance of the successful National Dialogue we held recently. It is obvious that, through dialogue, we can always build consensus to sustain peace, security, and stability. My appeal to the nation, therefore, is that no matter what the circumstances are, let us keep the peace.

In this regard, as a follow-up to the National Dialogue and the proposed regional forums, my government will study the recommendations to incorporate them into the National Yiriwa programme.  

Fellow Gambians,

I congratulate the Muslim community on the occasion of the feast of Eid-ul-Fitr and thank everyone for the peace, stability, and progress we continue to enjoy. In the same way, I pay tribute to the Christian community for peacefully observing Lent and Easter.   

Despite the rising cost of living worldwide, my government ensured that there were enough stocks of basic food commodities during both fasting periods of the two religious denominations.

I must observe briefly in the interest of our farmers that the Food Security and Safety Council, formerly GGC, bought 36,000 tonnes of groundnuts, worth about 1.5 billion  Dalasis this season.

I am happy to say further that, in the face of a few challenges, after guided consultations, the Government met its pledge to buy groundnuts without undue prolonged payment delays.

Fellow Citizens,

The current world order and lessons learnt around the globe illustrate that development does not take place in a vacuum, nor is there a magic formula to develop a nation. Apart from other material resources, countries develop through their citizens. Further, it depends on their degree of love for country, commitment to deliver, hard work, and determination to overcome hardship and challenges. The strength of our nation thus lies in you, the people.

Fellow Citizens,  

To achieve the Government’s commitment to the national development agenda, we must maintain good road networks and easy access to electricity,  clean  water, and other amenities. All these require continual flow of financial resources. Unfortunately, the country is not generously endowed with natural resources.

Besides the alternative of diversifying revenue sources, taxes remain the lifeline of our development programmes. Although Government does not intend to overburden you with tax increases or tax payments, we urge all tax payers to pay tax dutifully and promptly.

We promise to use the revenue wisely to build more roads, provide electricity, clean water sources and fulfil our obligations towards enhancing lives and livelihoods.

A solid revenue base is the surest guarantee to viably put our development agenda on track. Once again, I urge all of you to pay your taxes for the betterment of the country. This is the time to work harder and do better for our dear Gambia.    

Fellow Gambians and Friends,

I believe everyone here now knows that The Gambia will host the 15th edition of the Organisation of the Islamic Cooperation Summit next month, May 2024. Following several postponements of hosting the event, we are grateful that it is now on the horizon. By God’s grace, we shall welcome the Muslim Ummah to the Smiling Coast of Africa.

I ask that you prepare to put up your best show for the occasion. It is an opportunity to show the world who we really are and what we can offer to humanity. Singly and collectively in our places of worship, both during and after the Eid, let us pray for a successful and peaceful Summit.  

As we celebrate Eid-ul Fitr with joy, let us remember that it is also a period for caring, sharing, and maintaining the good values that Ramadan and fasting promote.  

I wish you all a happy and joyous Eid-ul-Fitr and pray that we live to celebrate the day many times over.  

I thank you for your attention.