President Barrow’s New Year Message


Fellow Gambians,

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

After months of uncertainty, fears and havoc to human lives and the world economies, finally, 2020 ends today. Notwithstanding widespread suffering globally, as we welcome 2021, there is a lot to be thankful for, knowing that God’s favours and blessings upon humankind are countless and ceaseless. With this realisation, we look forward to 2021 with gratitude, and with much optimism and hope for a year of greater achievements for all of us, as individuals and as a nation.

2020 was not, by any means, a normal productive year. Government performance was not optimal in relation to revenue generation and economic growth. Earnings for the business community across the country were equally below average.

The bright side of all these is that our development path has not been blocked, thus we will continue to work with hope, zeal and confidence.

Fellow Gambians,

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

Government projects, programmes and sector reforms are on course, as we continue to monitor and keep them on track. In particular, the Civil Service reform is in progress to yield a motivated and dedicated workforce which is sincere to the nation, committed and guided by the regulations that govern service delivery.

The recent salary increments and the new pension scheme in place have been made attractive to align them with the realities of daily life and the cost of living in the country. These positive developments should result in boosting output, work ethics, discipline and professionalism.

Our vision is that all civil and public servants work with dignity, and are respected at home and honoured by the people while in active service and after official retirement. This is the type of quality workforce that The Gambia deserves. The Civil and Public Service will no longer be disrespected, disregarded and used as tools to be hired and fired for no just cause.    

Due to the virus, our institutions had to work on rotated shifts and reduced capacity, which impacted negatively on performance, and lowered the national productivity rate. The makeshift arrangements also retarded the attainment of key policy and programme targets. In the year ahead, therefore, all civil and public servants are urged to redouble their efforts and output in order to compensate for lost time and revenue, as the education sector is already doing. We encourage the sectors to emulate the strategies they have employed in the interest of their students and stakeholders.

Let all Heads of the various Ministries, Departments and Agencies begin to pride themselves not only on the policies and strategic plans they have developed, but also on the programme targets and tangible results achieved as the days ahead roll by.

The time has come to transit from mere planning and restructuring to hard work and output. This is not an attempt to downplay the role that civil servants have been playing, but a matter of stepping up performance, and warding off unfair criticism.

As we enter 2021, I propose that Work for Quality Performance and Quality Results be adopted as the resolution of the workforce across all sectors, institutions and disciplines.

Fellow Gambians,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Our National Development Plan was designed for a three-year period, ending December, 2021. We now have to begin a stocktaking process to assess and evaluate our performance so far. This is necessary to inform the next steps, especially for designing a longer-term successor plan. The process calls for the participation of all categories of citizens, both within and out of Government circles.

The need for transparency and accountability should compel us to create an inclusive and participatory climate, with the required public space, open and wide enough to accommodate all shades of ideas, expertise and skills.   

Collectively, peace, progress and national unity should remain our ultimate target. Given the communal nature of our communities, it should be easy for us to come together, bound by the values that cut across our families, clans, districts, regions and the communities within them. This is a country where peace and unity can easily bind us in a flourishing society.

Fellow Gambians,

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

Although 2020 was clouded by the pandemic, it was a year of politics, debate and dialogue, as we ventured into crafting a new Constitution for the Third Republic. All is not lost, since we still have the opportunity to produce another draft Constitution at the appropriate time.          

2021 is expected to be a year of more vigorous political activities, as potential candidates prepare to contest for the highest office of the land. No matter what our dreams, wishes and hopes may be, let us all play by the rule and the law. Let the law and our noble values and conscience define our thoughts, decisions and actions. I address this plea to all political parties, surrogates and citizens alike. In particular, let us not allow any external interference in our national affairs and interpersonal relationships.

In The Gambia, rightly or wrongly, we tend to associate whatever happens with God, but we must admit that, individually and collectively, we are responsible for our actions and, therefore, their consequences. To a great extent, people determine the course of their lives and, thereby, the nature of their communities and the pace and level of their progress and development.

In view of this, it is obvious that the number and magnitude of our successes depend on the way we utilise the potential that resides in us and the resources put at our disposal. These include the land, water, fauna and flora, which have to be utilised wisely and usefully.

Individual differences within our families, communities and institutions do not allow us to think and act in the same way. These differences, however, like our cultural diversity, can foster mutual cooperation, specialisation and division of work for the development of a healthy and productive society that can address challenges amicably and carve out avenues to attain set goals. I ask that we bear this in mind, and work in harmony to redeem the nation permanently from injustice, poverty and underdevelopment.

In the process, we must trust the Security Services, and support them to secure the land and the people, and to maintain order and stability.

I pledge to stand for the cause of the nation and the wishes of the people. For now, the health of every citizen and the resilience of the economy are of special interest to my government. Accordingly, health matters and economic recovery strategies and programmes will continue to be accorded special focus. We hope to make the economy robust enough to withstand unforeseen circumstances, such as pandemics and other types of calamities. As we crave your indulgence, given the difficult circumstances in which we find ourselves, we are encouraged by the volume of rainfall recorded this year and the reduction of coronavirus infections.

Fellow Gambians,

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

As always, I must express appreciation to all those who contributed to the successes registered in the year. This cuts across all sectors and all types of contributions made either through Government or other avenues for the welfare of the people. We thank everyone, with special recognition given to our close friends, partners and the international community.

Trusting that 2021 will be a year of peace and success, I wish every citizen and resident of the country a very peaceful, blessed, prosperous and happy year ahead. In our prayers, let us remember the departed souls, the sick and the vulnerable groups in our midst, the nation and the world at large.  

Once again, Happy 2021 to you all.