READ BY FABAKARY TOMBONG JATTA-PARTY LEADER AT A PRESS CONFERENCE.
18th July, 2017
This year marks twenty-three years since the advent of the July 22nd Revolution, two years later, ushered in the glorious Alliance for Patriotic Re-Orientation and Constructing (APRC) Party. The APRC government brought about unprecedented development to the door steps of all Gambians irrespective of party or ethnic identities. Our government transformed the country from a stone age to a rapid developing nation; as such, it is only fitting for any well-meaning Gambian to solemnly reflect on its achievement. In view of this, the executive committee applied for a police permit to the Inspector General of Police. Every Gambian knew the APRC came in to being as a result of the July 22nd Revolution. The program of events was proposed as thus: Press Conference, Recitation of the Holy Quran and a Mega Musical Jamboree and Rally. However, the party has been denied its constitutional rights under section 25 of the 1997 constitution. Nonetheless, the party being an opposition party with a difference, will in no circumstances compromise the peace and stability of our great nation and the unprecedented development registered over the last two decades. It should further be noted that, the great APRC party has always been poised to deliver services to the citizenry, to protect the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of our dear nation as well as protect the lives and properties of every citizen. The party ensured a peaceful and prosperous Gambia. To this end, former president Sheik Prof. Alh Dr. Yahya A.J.J Jammeh left the shores of The Gambia just to ensure that, no life is lost, not a single developmental relic registered by his party destroyed.
The APRC government has done the unthinkable in 1994, when many pundits’ casted doubt and elusion about the viability of the government intra alia, ability to pay salaries and deliver services to Gambians. We can all remember when our detractors claimed that, President Jammeh’s government would not be able to pay salaries after three months in to office.
Fellow Gambians, the APRC government brought about the necessary development in all spheres, including infrastructure, and social services including health, education, housing, agriculture, protection of life and properties, youth and women empowerment, etc. that transformed the socio-economic wellbeing of all Gambians.
Ab initio, the APRC government introduced and established the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), to conduct and supervise all elections and referenda which hitherto were under the ministry of local government during the first republic. Our government established the office of the Ombudsman under section 163 of the constitution responsible to look in to issues of employment, employer employee relationship and employment maladministration in ensuring social justice. The introduction of separation of powers within the three arms of government: the executive, legislature and the Judiciary ensured effective oversight over governance. Gone are the days when a Member of Parliament will also serve as minister or parliamentary secretary at the same time. The APRC ensured transparency and accountability in the operations of government with an oversight on government ministries and department by an independent National Assembly devoid of the executives. The establishment of the Public Accounts Committee by the National Assembly to look in to the annual audited accounts , financial statements and activities of government and public enterprises and agencies stood the test of time and is a catalyst and reference of best parliamentary practices within the sub region. The construction of a multimillion dollar state of art National Assembly complex for the first time in the history of The Gambia is a testimony of the desire of the government’s quest to ensuring robust legislative branch. The edifice comes with its state of the art equipment and facilities to enable deputies effectively exercise their constitutional mandate of oversight, scrutiny and representation for the common good of all and sundry.
The APRC made a solemn promise to Gambians during its infancy, to build the infrastructure of the country beyond imagination of ordinary Gambians. Today, this assertion is dreams come true. The government of president Yahya Jammeh constructed thousands of kilometers of macadamize roads across the length and breadth of the country. It should be noted that, for the first time in the history of the Gambia, the northern part of the country from Barra-Amdalai, Barra to Laminkoto via Farafenni enjoys first class roads infrastructure with streets lights by any government since immemorial brought about by the APRC government. The magnificent kombo coastal road network, refered to as ring road connecting the capital Banjul runs through Bakau, Serrekunda, Sukuta,Bijilo-Tujereng- Karton, Gunjur- Kartong, Sifoe to Brikama as well as Sanyang, Jambajelly to Brikama ,Brikama, Busumbala, Lamin, Mamadi Manjang highway and again to Banjul and the Senegambia-Brusubi, Salaji-Old Yundum(airport junction) to Brikama-Marakissa-Dasilami-Dimbaya-Busura and Brikama=ring road boosted tourism, created employment and self-employment, boosted security and ease the life of the inhabitants .It should be further noted however, that the Laminkoto-Passamas road is under construction since 2016, fully funded by funds secured from five multilateral partners. The road is expected to be a first class that runs through Sami, Sandu, Wuli west and Wuli east constituencies.
The APRC government continued to invest heavily in road network and river transport to ensure economic activities thus empowering people. The purchasing of fleets of ferries by the APRC government, latest being Kunta Kinteh speaks volumes of the party’s policies of providing social services.
The unprecedented construction of Kerewan and Sankulay Kunda bridges which hitherto had been unthinkable, because it was believed to have been possessed by devils renewed people’s confidence in our government. The constructions of these bridges brought about socio-economic development to the people of the area. It is as a result these and many bridges constructed that earned our party leader the name: Babili Mansa as the amount of lives and properties lost in these areas since time immemorial has been finally put to an end. Today the APRC is on record for constructing hundreds of bridges and culverts across rivers, tributaries and swamps making movement of people, animals, goods and services easier, cheaper and access to rice fields and farms land as well and connected communities.
It should be noted however, that one of the reasons for the advent of the revolution was the lack of educational institutions, carrying of desk and local chairs to school by school children daily and sale of water from public standpipes. In the circumstances, following the birth of the APRC, its policy programme on education was focus on accessibility, affordability and relevance for all citizens irrespective of political, religious, ethnic or regional affiliation.
The Alliance for Patriotic Re-Orientation and Construction –APRC government gave Gambians and young people in particular the biggest and greatest gift of life by establishing the University of the Gambia which was unthinkable and was projected to be unviable for the Gambia by prophets of doom and doubting Thomas. Today, we are proud to say, that, the university continues to graduate thousands of Gambians annually most of whom are on government scholarship and studied in various fields especially medicine and allied health sciences producing our own doctors in home soil. That is a mammoth achievement. In addition, hundreds of Gambians were awarded scholarship tenable in universities abroad in special disciplines, regardless of ethnic, political, religious and social background.
The construction and proliferation of hundreds of primary, middle and high schools across the length and breadth of the country by the APRC government saw a dramatic surge in enrolment ratio and access to basic education. The free basic and secondary education introduced by the government sought to achieve the MDGs and SDGs on universal access to education by all. This policy ensured an enlightened and informed citizenry. It should further be noted that, the APRC government pledged and promised to introduce university education come January 2018.
Fellow Gambians, since the breakdown of the GUC generator sometime around 1977, electricity provision has been a nightmare to the people of the Gambia. The provision of electricity was mainly centered around Banjul and some parts of the greater Banjul area .Following the advent of the APRC government under the leadership of former president His Excellency Sheikh Prof, Alh. Dr, Yahya A.J.J Jammeh, new generators were purchased and power generation plants constructed to provide electricity across the length and breadth of the Gambia.
The APRC government introduced the rural electrification project which provided electricity to major rural towns and villages from Kartong to Koina. The second phase of the rural electrification Expansion project (REEP) also started in earnest during the APRC regime to provide electricity to more villages and hamlets mostly with streets light. Provision of electricity is the bedrock to ensuring socio-economic development and also prevents rural urban drift.
ON July 22nd 1994, there were only two hospitals built by the colonial masters, they are Royal Victoria and Bansang hospitals. However, one of the key priorities of the then APRC government was health and as president Jammeh puts it ‘a healthy nation is a wealthy nation’. The APRC started business in earnest with a viable policy programme to address the ever growing needs of the Gambian people and invested millions of dollars in constructing minor and major health centers with affordable and available Medicare across the length and breadth of the country.
The construction of Farafenni general hospital, Sulayman Junkung hospital in Bwiam, the Serrekunda general hospital, Jammeh Foundation for Peace Hospital and the upgrading of Edward Francis Small Hospital to a teaching hospital is testimony to the APRC commitment in ensuring a healthy citizenry. It should however be noted that, it is the APRC government that ever built hospital for Gambians since post independent.
The APRC government recognized the important role of agriculture in the socio-economic development of our motherland. In the circumstance, President Jammeh himself served as a catalyst to farmers by becoming a farmer himself. He introduced the slogan ‘Eat what you grow, grow what you eat’. It is his ardent believe that, no country is independent so long her food basket comes from outside. The APRC government provided tractors, power tillers, farm equipment and fertilizer to Gambians farmers while encouraging them to diversify their farming. These undoubtedly ensured increase yields thus improve the livelihood of farmers.
YOUTHS AND WOMEN EMPOWERMENT
Youths and women empowerment has been a priority sector during the APRC government championed by the former president. Various forms of legislations were promulgated to empower women and youths by ensuring their effective participation in national development. Numerous youth and women programmes were introduced to equip them with skills and also increase their earning capacities. The gender gaps has been closed in primary schools enrolments while women and have been appointed to high positions in government
The APRC government believed that peace and security are sacrosanct in the socio-economic development of any nation. In the circumstances, the APRC government under the leadership of former president, established police stations and post in growth centers, major towns, villages an communities to safe guard life and properties of all citizens. Rape, burglary, theft and arson were unheard of during our regime.
The APRC gave the armed and security services the utmost priority it deserves. Our government created conducive environment by providing lot facilities for them to operate thus, enabling them maintain the defense and security of our nation.
Fellow Gambians: The APRC National Executives committee on behalf of all party militants, members, sympathizer and other well-meaning Gambians, recognize, appreciate and applaud our party leader and former president His Excellency Sheikh Professor Alh Dr, Yahya A.J.J. Jammeh, Babili Mansa for his sterling leadership qualities which heralded in unprecedented socio-economic development tampered by his personal benevolence which improved the lives and livelihood of thousands of Gambians , We further salute him for the establishment of the Jammeh Foundation for Peace Hospital, President Empowerment for Girls Education Project(PEGEP). PEGEP paid the school fees of thousands of girls in public and grand aided upper basic and senior secondary schools which greatly helped in ensuring gender parity enrolment as well awarded scholarships to qualified needy Gambians irrespective of their political, ethnic and religious affiliation.
Furthermore, the party salutes him for his personal intervention in the following areas:
1, sending hundreds of Gambians annually to pilgrimage to Mecca, Rome and Jerusalam
2, free traditional medical treatment
3, Personal donation to individual, schools and institutions.
I want to make it categorically clear, that we are a peace loving and discipline party. We believe that only effective marketing of party programmes and manifestos to voters could enable parties get voters support and not through coercion.
Since the advent of this coalition government, our party supporters especially those in the fonis underwent lot of challenges which include among others
a, The arrest and detention of only APRC supporters following a fracas between UDP and APRC supporters at Kanfenda
b, The arrest and detention of only APRC supporters during the APRC victory celebration at Sibanor despite the restrained exercised by our supporters
c, The shooting to death of Haruna Jatta and injuring many others following a peaceful demonstration at Kanilai
d, Mass arrest of people in Kanilai and surrounding villages following the shooting of Haruna Jatta to death and the imposition of an illegal curfew in Kanilai and neighboring villages.
E, The arrest and detention of APRC supporters in various parts of Western Region.
Under all these conditions, the APRC National Executive Committee continued to prevail on our party militants, supporters and sympathizers to remain calm, peaceful and law abiding while the executive engage government on these issues. Again, we have been denied a permit to celebrate our party’s unprecedented achievements which undeniably impacted positively on the lives of Gambians.
In the circumstances, we call on government to respect our rights and freedom and not to push us to our limit when we would be forced to express our frustration within the ambit of the law. Notwithstanding, on behalf of the National Executive committee, I call on all APRC militants, members, sympathizers and genuine Gambians who believe in the protection of fundamental rights to stay calm, go about their normal business and pray for the peace and prosperity of our beloved country and our great party the APRC.
Fellow Gambians, as the coalition Government came on a platform of new Gambia which will ensure democracy, rule of law and protection of fundamental rights with lot of other promises, Gambians therefore demand that:
1, the coalition government fulfill its campaign promise,
A, Creation of youth employment
B, Price reduction of basic commodities e,g, bag of rice to cost five hundred dalasi
C, Free visa for our youths
D, Reliable and efficient electricity supply
E, Introduction of presidential term limit
F, Protection of fundamental rights including freedom of association, assembly and expression
G, Protection of life and property.
H, Provision of seeds nuts, farming implements and fertilizer to farmers, it is to be noted that the distributed fertilizer were that of APRC government
I, construction of course ways and bridges to rice fields especially in the Central River Region
J, Salary increase for civil servant
K,Tax reduction to encourage businesses to continue.
L, To jealously guard the independence and sovereignty of our dear motherland.
The APRC demands government to:
1, immediately appoint a vice president of the Gambia
2, Immediately launch an independent investigation in to the death of Haruna Jatta
3, Drop all political motivated charges against APRC members such as the Kanilai peaceful demonstrators and those arrested during the victory celebration in Sibanor
4, Stop the unlawful termination of public servants and servicemen base on political affiliatin
- Defreeze the accounts of the APRC party which were funded mainly by members contribution and fundraising
6, Reintroduce the monthly set settal
7, Demilitarize the Fonis especially Kanilai
8, we call on government to put up measures to curb the growing rate of armed robbery, rape and murder especially in the greater Banjul area.
In conclusion, while urging government to focus on fulfilling these promises and demands rather than being paranoid about APRC and former president Yahya A.J.J.Jammeh, we wish to be on record to say that the APRC and all its membership believed and accepts that His Excellency Adama Barrow is the current president of the republic of The Gambia,
We wish all Gambians especially farmers a successful and trouble free rainy season. I THANK YOU ALL.