Celebrations marking the day was held at the Bakau Independence Stadium.
Below is his full speech:
It is with great pleasure that I am here this morning to commemorate with you this very happy occasion of the 43rd Ecowas day celebration in The Gambia. I am also very honoured to represent His Excellency, the President, Mr. Adama Barrow, who is unavoidably absent due to some other matters of the state that he has to attend to. His soul and spirit as well as his prayers or best wishes are with you and he has asked me to convey and express this.
He has asked me to read his statement on this happy occasion, which I have the singular honour to read as follows: “Your Excellencies Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, I am indeed grateful that we are gathered here to commemorate and celebrate the 43rd Ecowas Day here in The Gambia.
At the outset, let me underscore that the importance of Ecowas as an organisation whose mandate primarily is to promote the economic and social integration of West African States and in this way ensure closer coordinated ties of cooperation between and among the Ecowas states. Since its creation, Ecowas has been relentless in the pursuit of unity and integration within the sub region and I am sure we are all witnesses to the tremendous strides taken over the years in this endeavour.
As a regional bloc, we are also witnesses to the active role that Ecowas through the very many initiatives it has launched since its creation, has been championing in virtually every sphere of the political, economic and social lives of nation states and the citizenry.
Key among these is the area of peace building, promoting democracy, good governance and the rule of law as well as reinforcing peace, security and stability. Despite the huge challenges in these, we all know how important these initiatives are as the building blocks towards achieving long-term sustainable growth and development.
For us in The Gambia, we have every reason to be proud of Ecowas and every reason therefore to celebrate this year. Undoubtedly, we have become a beneficiary of the many areas of support and assistance provided by Ecowas. Not least is the area of peace that was restored in the wake of the political impasse in 2016. Through the intervention of ECOMIG, we have seen and enjoyed significant peace dividends without which The Gambia could have been another example of chaos and instability and possibly a failed state.
I would like to take this opportunity again to express my gratitude to all Ecowas member states each for providing solidarity with The Gambia and all for the united decision to come in and save us from carnage.
My Government will forever remain grateful. We will ensure that the dividends from Ecowas’ actions are sustained, and here I want to make
particular reference to the comprehensive security sector reform that my Government is embarking on with the view to build greater professionalism in, as well as the requisite capacity in our security sector. We will continue to work closely with all sister states to ensure that not only is the threat of insecurity over-powered in any one country of the sub-region but in all of the Ecowas territory.
In this drive, and in order to ensure that Ecowas truly succeed in its mandate, my government will continue to subscribe to all ECOWAS protocols, including the protocols and instruments designed to enhance the free movement of people, goods and services within the framework of trade liberalisation.
I cannot proceed but recognise the importance and the need therefore to ensure that the political procurements that underline these Ecowas protocols as well as the instruments to give them effect, are actually implemented in real time and in practice. I say so because non-implementation is tantamount to failing the millions of people who stand to gain immensely from liberalised trade and openness to services within the Ecowas space.
Excellencies, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen For our part, my government will do all it takes to stand by and support the effective implementation of the Ecowas protocols. Ecowas has become a household name, which like the EU, the UN and other bodies and organisations has demonstrated that they are a useful body and an important player in driving our socio-economic agenda as a sub-region as well as our collective political agenda. We must ensure coherence of efforts so that we can build on the achievements registered under Ecowas. We must remain solidly resolute to the pursuit of our goal of becoming customs union, trading amongst ourselves as a market, harmonising duties and taxes, and introducing the Ecowas Single currency and the Ecowas Passport with the view to maximise the benefits inherent from such opportunities.
I would like therefore to urge that we as the Member States close ranks to ensure that ECOWAS is able to effectively deliver on its mandate. It is an organisation that is governed in accordance with the principles of democracy, rule of law and good governance. These are important features that we can proudly become a bright example of.
To conclude, I would like to again congratulate all the citizens of ECOWAS and the ECOWAS Commission for yet another anniversary of celebrations. While there is a lot to celebrate, we should also realise that there is a lot of challenges to be wary about. In the face of globalisations, there are obvious threats of insecurity, including physical as well as cyber-based threats looming and of great concern to the sub-regional peace, security and development. With greater resolve, we can make ECOWAS a centre of excellence and an epitome of hope for our citizenry.”
That ends the President’s statement and I thank you all for your attention.
Happy 43rd ECOWAS Anniversary!