President Adama Barrow has plenty of policy proposals for the coming year to deal with issues like education, health care, justice and economic reforms.
But his State of the Nation address most importantly brought hope and assured Gambians that they will from henceforth live in dignity.
“I stand before you with great humility today at this historic opening of our National Assembly in the era of the ‘New Gambia,” said Barrow.
“Together, we have ushered the New Gambia into a world of hope – a world we shall jealously guard to preserve the freedom and dignity of our people.”
The address was both a victory lap celebrating the accomplishments of the first six months of his rule.
Pundits have hailed it as one of the most optimistic State of the Nation addresses, mostly because of the absence of threats to citizens that usually make the major part of his predecessor’s statements.
Barrow offered an overarching message of hope and discredited so much of the negativity that clouds Gambian politics today.
“Never again shall this nation return to those dark days of impunity, obvious disregard for constitutional order or be globally isolated,” Barrow said.
“This is an achievement that we should not take lightly. I thank Allah for this blessing and also seek his continued guidance and strength to serve you well in the coming years.”
The State of the Nation address was also a reflection of an ambitious president, whose coming to power ended the most tumultuous time in our nation’s history.
This year’s State of the Nation address was different just like the promise President Barrow made of a New Gambia.
“The most important achievement so far is the peaceful transition of power to our new democracy. This short period has seen the inauguration of a President, the appointment of a new Cabinet and the election of a new National Assembly,” the president reminded.
“The spirit of unity that brought us last December’s historic election outcome continues to drive the nation forward, which is evident in the business of our new Cabinet.”
With this speech, Barrow has begun the process of framing his own legacy. He summed up where he thought the nation was, and where he believed it needs to go.
Barrow’s approach has always been to emphasize shared ground rather than to dispute contested ground.
At he does best, he made a useful reminder of how much Gambians actually have in common and how we fought together to usher in the birth of a new nation.
“Indeed, we see this spirit of unity every day across the nation as we strive together to build the New Gambia that we want and deserve,” Barrow said of the unity the country is known for.
“You have elected the government that you want, and we have taken your expressions of goodwill and your desire for peace and prosperity seriously.”
Work has started in earnest with the task of steadily reforming the government machinery so it can do the work of nation building and help strengthen the country’s new found democracy.
It seems after all, the state of our nation is stronger than it has ever been but can be better. The people have their freedom and liberty back and are holding on to the hope that the economy will also return to normalcy.