“Welcome to The Gambia,” he says calmly, as he welcomes the team and settles down to a conversation with the African Leadership Organization team at the Presidential Palace in Banjul. His Excellency, Adama Barrow, President of the Republic of The Gambia, has been eulogized by many, but, very few have been able to capture his gentle mien and calm disposition. His commitment to peace and stability as the precursor to jobs and wealth creation in The Gambia has seen him do things differently. As the first step towards recovery and restoration of The Gambia, he set up the Truth Reconciliation and Reparation Commission, National Human Rights Commission, the Constitutional Review Commission, the Security Sector Reform and Civil Service Reform. These and many more prepared the ground for the enormous work of restoring the country’s local and international image. In this exclusive interview with African Leadership Magazine, he talks about his government’s efforts to revolutionize the country, one sector at a time. Excerpts.
Your Excellency President Barrow, thank you for granting this interview to African Leadership Magazine. We have followed you over the last 5 years and yours has been a special and interesting journey. You are one of the few Presidents who had two swearing ins and 5 years down the line or almost at the twilight of the first administration, what would you consider the best moment for you. What has the journey been like?
Thank you very much. I am very pleased and honoured to grant this interview. As you said, my journey has been very interesting. Very interesting, but it has not been easy. It was not an easy journey but we needed to manage the situation. That’s why if you look at the journey, we have been very patient and tolerant.
Sometimes, some of my Ministers will come saying ‘No, we shouldn’t accept this, we shouldn’t accept that’, but I say ‘No, we have to look at the environment. The environment is key to us. We make our decisions based on the environment. And, one of the most important things was we had to make sure of what we promised the people.
We promised the people that we will bring about change that will believe in the principles of democracy. That was our main objective, and as a leader that was my direction. It was my thinking, and everybody followed that. Now, most of them come to me. They tell me ‘Mr. President, this is wisdom from you.
What you were saying is now paying off. So, I have been vindicated by most of them.
The challenge was as you noted, in 2016, there was an impasse. It was a difficult moment to pass through that impasse. And, after the impasse, it is a government that is a joined government. You know, when you see a government with different parties, different thinking, different ideology – it was very difficult. Most of the time, these joint governments, don’t last. Most times, they collapse. But, I am very lucky to make sure I maintain such government until now it is up to 5 years; and, we are finishing the journey.
I always tell my people we are finishing the journey on a very high note for the Gambia. At a very high note, we were able to make sure we have big achievements while through the journey. We started some of our projects, now we are finishing those big projects. I have just inaugurated the new roads in Basse. You have the bridges. You have the roads. This infrastructure is big and it is just completed. Last week, I inaugurated the substation, that is the OMVG electrical substation. It is a big one. It is a game-changer in peoples live. We have just inaugurated it recently. I have just laid the foundation stone of over twenty-something health facilities. All the projects are going on as of now, and I have projects that are going on that people were talking about for 50 or 60 years. There is a road called the Hakaran road. It is a famous road. It is about 86 kilometres. We have another road that is about fifty-something kilometres. We have another road over eighty-something. So, the contracts that are going on for road construction is about 300 to 400 kilometres. They are all going on very well; and also, we are launching new projects….
Click HERE TO ACCESS THE FULL INTERVIEW on page 9 of the December 2021 edition of the African Leadership Magazine.