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Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Statement By H. E. Mr. Adama Barrow President Of The Republic Of The Gambia On The Occasion Of The Swearing-in Ceremony Of Vice President, Cabinet Ministers And Permanent Secretaries

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Your Excellency, The Vice President,
Honourable Ministers,
Secretary General and Head of Civil Service,
Secretary to Cabinet,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Members of the Media Fraternity,

Let me endorse and reiterate the Secretary to Cabinet’s welcome remarks by thanking you all for attending this swearing-in ceremony.
For the Vice President, Cabinet Ministers and Permanent Secretaries who have just been sworn in, I congratulate you heartily on your appointments, and I thank you for accepting to serve in my Government.
Your identification and appointments reflect the trust and confidence we have in you as respectable and dependable patriots of the country.
Therefore, let me emphasize that your nominations were not based on any personal or special relationship I have with you, but on relevant and specific criteria devised in The Gambia’s best interest.
It is my view too that your willingness to serve the nation as Vice President, Government Ministers and Permanent Secretaries indicates that you understand and appreciate the responsibilities and expectations attached to occupying such positions within the context of a democratic government in a democratic State.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Generally, democracy is associated with multiparty politics, elections, choice and other indicators, but holding a Cabinet portfolio or the post of Permanent Secretary does not mean thinking and working exclusively along political lines.
The duties and responsibilities associated with your offices oblige you to remember that you are heads of government ministries and technical experts respectively, operating within a civil service structure. As such, public service rules, regulations, principles and procedures should guide the discharge of your functions. Your positions also require you to suppress your personal wishes and ambitions, and put more weight on the Government’s agenda, as this reflects the will, hopes and aspirations of the people you are meant to serve.

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I must stress that being a Cabinet Minister or Permanent Secretary goes with expectations set by the people themselves, and they look forward to their fulfillment. This means that the greater good has to prevail over our personal, ethnic, religious, political or sectional interests.

It goes without doubt that at the core of government leadership is Cabinet. Cabinet represents and portrays the nation as a family. As a result, political differences must not corrupt, undermine or divide those of us privileged with Cabinet assignments.
Collectively, we should symbolise unity, and must not instigate division. Instead, we should be a source of inspiration to unite the citizens, and work together as one nation. To achieve this, what we say and do should be consistent in both our public and private lives.
As Permanent Secretaries, you are the life line of the Civil Service. The professionalism and commitment you manifest in the conduct of your duty will determine how successful our reform programme will be.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is obvious that all citizens are entitled to their views and ambitions, including the desire to lead. However, good citizenship is not all about leadership, nor is it about having one’s way all the time.
Good citizenship embodies uniting and working collectively towards a common destiny; a destiny marked by success, development, peace, stability and happiness for all.
It is a betrayal of trust to belong to a group, yet openly or secretly oppose its ideals, objectives, values, agenda and what it stands for. In other words, one cannot operate in Cabinet, or within a government system, and seek to undermine it in order to pursue any other interest.

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The best citizens in a nation are the genuine patriots who serve selflessly and put the nation and the greater good before any selfish interest. Such good citizens are not moved by greed or any undesirable pursuit. Therefore, good and patriotic citizenship is measured by one’s loyalty to the people, loyalty to the State and loyalty to the leadership of the day, noting that the leadership carries the people’s mandate, hopes and aspirations.
In The Gambia, our shared values are not limited to loving, caring and sharing only. They include honesty, sincerity and developing a sense of belonging to a community composed of diverse groups. Those of us in Government should live by these values, and refrain from seeking to divide the nation along partisan lines. When political gains and political beliefs or ambitions come first, we will divide the people along party affiliation, ethnicity or other social divides. This is unacceptable. Cabinet members and those in Government should be apolitical as regards the welfare of the people who have mandated them to run their affairs. We must not send mixed or conflicting messages to the public. On the contrary, we must be seen as a united body, pursuing the same goals and speaking with one voice so that the public can follow suit. To put it bluntly, we must be truly honourable and exemplary in character.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Accepting a Ministerial or any public service assignment carries many implications. These include supporting the Government’s agenda; willingness to comply with Government norms and principles; displaying due respect for public office and public institutions; loyalty to the leadership, and dedication to country and duty.
As Vice President, Ministers and Permanent Secretaries, you are expected to provide administrative and professional guidance, while being guided by ethnical norms and sound professional values.

Our National Development Plan (2018-2021) highlights the enormous national tasks at hand. Given that the nation is bigger than any individual citizen, for all public servants and patriotic citizens, national challenges and priorities must come first.
Let us strive to serve the people well, to unite them for national development and attend to their welfare in their best interest. Let us remember that in serving the people, we are serving God, the Almighty.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
As leaders, we ought to be considerate and compassionate, but we must be realistic and firm in ensuring that justice is done in the interest of the nation. It is this principle that has given rise to the Cabinet reshuffle resulting in the new appointments that have just been confirmed.
The lesson is that, sometimes, difficult decisions have to be taken to set things right. This is necessary occasionally to establish order in our governance system.
I wish you success during your tenure of office, and implore you to work as members of a family unit within the wider community.

I thank you for your attention.

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