By Momodou Jarju
President Adama Barrow has assured Gambians that his-led administration is committed to the conducting of the 2021 general elections.
He said this while speaking on Thursday at the State of the Nation Address (SONA) 2020 at the national assembly in Banjul.
“I assure all Gambians that my government is determined that the general elections will be conducted in 2021, as scheduled. My conviction is that, whatever our position or belief may be, we should always concede to the national interest, and forego selfishness,” President Barrow told parliamentarians in his concluding remarks.
President Barrow said the pandemic has taught Gambians the need to cultivate a new culture of cleanliness, a new social order of living in harmony as human beings, a new political vision of working together and a new way of embracing solidarity.
He said for the collective safety and survival “let us redefine our roles and development paths against the realities of the times.”
Barrow said despite this dim picture, they will not be distracted, nor shall they relent, while adding that the pandemic will neither undermine their vision nor bar them from directing their energies and resources for the development and welfare of the Gambian citizens.
“For us, lives, rights and happiness for every human being matter above any other agenda,” he said.
President Barrow further said they cannot allow their attention and energy to be diverted to issues that have no cultural or religious value, nor any significance to contribute to the advancement of our nation as they paddle on.
“I would like to draw the curtain on recent debates about the rights of people with different sexual orientations. Let me emphasise that our partnership with our development partners is based purely on mutual respect for the advancement of our people,” he said.
Barrow said though they cannot predict how the pandemic will evolve, they hope for revival after this bitter experience. He said the lessons to learn from the pandemic are clear, saying it has brought about a new social order that calls for discipline, collective action, determination and accepting reality as it is.
“The indication is that we are in a health, economic and social crisis that will linger on into the future, and a situation that we may have to live with. It poses challenges to contend with not only with resources, but also with all the courage and energy we can muster. In the face of all these, my government maintains that survival, lives and livelihoods come first. In other words, we rank the people higher than anything else,” he said.
Barrow also encouraged Gambians to remain calm, focused and dedicated to making a positive difference in the welfare of the nation, adding “these are moments to build on our resilience in order to achieve our noble aspirations.”
Speaking further, barrow said the current situation calls for transforming “our fears and faith into strength, protecting ourselves with all the precautionary measures and resolutions, while hoping for better days ahead.”
Meanwhile, President Barrow reiterated his appreciation and gratitude to the CRC for submitting the draft Constitution within the specified timeframe.
“The draft copy has gone through the required processes, and was tabled recently by this August Assembly to allow for the remaining phases of finalising and adopting the new Constitution,” he said.