Foreword by His Excellency Adama Barrow, President of the Republic of The Gambia
On 2nd December 2016, Gambians with great courage, determination and dignity decided to take back their country following 22 years of dictatorship. During this period, the abuse of power and total disregard for our constitution, the rule of law and respect for fundamental human rights of citizens reigned supreme. This historic decision that ushered in the “new Gambia” has created a seismic shift in our country’s trajectory since gaining independence in 1965. It heralds a new chapter in our history and offers a renewed opportunity to build a modern accountable state based on the foundations of democracy, good governance, respect for human rights and security and prosperity for all. However, it also presents new challenges that need to be urgently addressed.
My government inherited an extremely challenging legacy manifested in a broken economy, gross abuse and plunder of our meagre state resources, social regression, poor and dilapidated infrastructure, and wide-ranging societal challenges, among the most urgent of which is the frustrations and lack of opportunities for our young people. The latter has propelled thousands of our young people to undertake the risky journey, often with tragic consequences, across the Mediterranean Sea in search of a better future. Similarly, many of our able and distinguished sons and daughters in the Diaspora, were forced to live in exile due to the repressive environment that prevailed thus, depriving the country of vital human capital and resources needed to fuel the growth and economic and social transformation of our society.
Since coming to power, we have undertaken many measures to stabilize the economy, restore public confidence and strengthen democratic institutions. However, we are also aware that more must be done, and urgently. That is why I tasked government to draw up a new National Development Plan (NDP) to provide greater clarity and focus for government action, citizens’ engagement and also for our development partners who are eager and stand ready to assist us.
The National Development Plan 2018-2021 presented in this document is the fruit of these endeavours. Through its eight strategic priorities and their critical enablers, my government aspires not only to lay the foundations for a modern democratic state, but also to address the most pressing economic and social ills besetting our society. The plan through its robust accountability framework, responds to my concern to ensure a strong focus on results, sound monitoring and evaluation processes, as well as strengthened engagement between government and the country’s citizens, including those in the Diaspora. As you will see, the plan also provides for the setting up of a Presidential Monitoring and Evaluation (PM&E) system that will allow me to personally follow plan implementation in certain critical areas. This will complement and enhance the sector level Monitoring and Evaluation processes provided for in the plan.
If we are to realize the vision and goal of this plan, creating a secure and stable environment, nurturing strong social cohesion and safety and peace are critical. My government, with the assistance of the UN, EU, ECOWAS and other partners has therefore also embarked upon a robust security sector reform process, aimed at bringing the security services fully under civilian democratic control, ensuring that the force’s structures and manpower are appropriate for our national security needs, and that the men and women in our armed and uniformed services can play a meaningful and positive role in national development.
I call upon all Gambians to make this NDP their plan, to seriously interrogate themselves on how best they might contribute to its realization and most importantly to hold us to account when we fall short, in a constructive and positive spirit of nation building. I am convinced that the courage and determination shown by Gambians in defeating tyranny and oppression can be successfully harnessed to also help us overcome our challenges and ensure that together we fully realize the vision and goal of this National Development Plan.
Finally, I want to take this opportunity to thank all friends of The Gambia – bilateral friendly governments and multilateral institutions, who have stood by us during trying times, and continue to do so. I look forward to strengthened collaboration and partnership as we move from plan formulation to full implementation.
His Excellency Adama Barrow
President of the Republic of The Gambia