President Yahya Jammeh has announced plans to build a multi-purpose hospital dedicated to the treatment of HIV/AIDS patients.
In his New Year message to the nation, Jammeh said the hospital which will hopefully be inaugurated and fully operational by 2015, will have one thousand, one hundred and eleven beds.
"With this project coming to fruition, we intend to treat ten thousand HIV/AIDS patients every six months through natural medicine," he said in a lengthy message, adding that to implement this project, he will bank on the benevolence of the Almighty first and foremost and the kindhearted members of the human race through fund raising, cultural, musical, and sporting events.
For the benefit of our readers, we reproduce the full text of Jammeh's New Year message, which among others touched on a wide range of issues including the execution of nine death row inmates last year, as well as developments in the education, energy and judicial sectors:
Fellow Gambians, Friends and well-wishers of The Gambia, Dear viewers, Humanity at Large, Ladies and Gentlemen
As we march into the New Year 2013 with profound gratitude and praises to the Almighty Allah for giving us this privilege, we will continue to seek His innumerable blessings and infinite mercies for our motherland throughout the New Year and beyond.
As a nation, we have a lot to be grateful to the Almighty Allah and should not lose sight of the fact that only He can give us what we need to not only develop our motherland into an economic superpower sooner rather than later but for our daily sustenance as well.
As we rejoice, celebrate and participate in the usual festivities that come with this season, looking forward to the New Year with strengthened hope, enthusiasm, and optimism, we must not lose sight of the fact that this is also a period of prayers, thanks giving and devotion to our creator and Lord of the Worlds.
These are also times that give us the opportunity to look back on the past twelve months, in order to assess our performance as individuals, community, and more importantly as a nation. This allows us to better prepare ourselves for the next twelve months with more resolve to improve on our performance and attain better quality of life in the New Year.
As a nation, we have achieved a lot over the past eighteen years compared to the previous governments but we still have to work much harder with strong patriotic zeal, honesty and more importantly with total devotion and submission to the Supremacy of the Almighty Allah if we want to achieve the economic superpower status on time.
Armed with our strong faith in and fear of Allah driven by strong determination to succeed, working together as one united family of a nation, we shall reach the promised land of highest standards of living where poverty is relegated to the dust bin of history and greater happiness, peace and everlasting prosperity will be the order of the day. In essence an economic superpower that would dwarf the current day military superpowers or economic giants.
This will be the ultimate destination for this great nation. It will be the greatest triumph or success but no success can really be termed great success, if it is achieved without facing great challenges and overcoming them. Greater challenges lie ahead of the road to our promised destination. These challenges have to be faced collectively and overcome. The greatest successes can come only after overcoming the greatest challenges or obstacles.
Like any other year, the new will bring challenges, opportunities and success, but each challenge should unite and bring us closer and each success should make us stronger and better believers in the supremacy of the Almighty Allah. Indeed as believers who put their trust and faith in Allah, we will always be a stronger nation and our optimism boundless. As a result, we can achieve any goal that we set for ourselves as nation and our country will reach greater heights with the coming of New Year In Sha Allah.
As New Year begins let me take this opportunity to not only congratulate you all but wish all of us greater happiness and more prosperity and success in our noble endeavours in the New Year 2013. I also pray that all our dreams and development plans in the New Year come true.
Fellow Gambians, Friends and well wishers of The Gambia, Distinguished viewers, Ladies and Gentlemen
For a better self assessment as a nation s we are poised to enter the year 2013, it is prudent to engage in serious reflection on the year ending. In this context, I observe that similar to the preceding year, 2012, was an eventual year both nationally and internationally. For illustration, I will briefly make reference to few remarkable events.
Globally, the world has continued to move further towards multi-polarity and globalization, while innovations of science and technology brews new breathtaking breakthroughs, though Global recovery from the recent economy meltdown is still slow, with hardships and discomfort accentuated by both natural and manmade catastrophes lingering in many nations. World peace, development and human progress socially, politically and economically have been hindered as a consequence.
However, we are thankful to the Almighty Allah that despite the turbulence in the international economic system, during the year, our economy remained resilient and stable. We were able to absorb all the shocks due to prudent financial and fiscal policies implemented by Government.
In view of the important contribution of Agriculture to the economy, we appreciate the amount of rainfall this year and we are delighted at the positive response of Gambians to my back to the Land call which has resulted in a very good harvest generally. Hopefully, this will ensure sustained economic growth and increase household food security in the coming year.
This optimism offset the despondency resultant from the 2010 crop failure that had terrible consequences, especially for the poor and vulnerable groups in society. It was fortunate that Government cushioned crop failure competently with appropriate measures that were complemented by support from the international community. To all those who provide such support, we convey profound gratitude.
Fellow citizens, Ladies and Gentlemen
It is expected that the economy will grow in the New Year due to the good rainy season and increased agricultural output. In order to promote and sustain this growth, we shall continue to maintain and improve on the fiscal discipline and monetary policies implemented throughout the year. Furthermore, my Government will continue to work with the private sector to spur economic growth and, thereby, create more employment opportunities, especially for the youth. To this effect, Gambian entrepreneurs and employers are urged to continue to be innovative and look for business opportunities in virgin areas.
ICT cannot prosper in the absence of power. Increasingly, the energy sector has been gripped by numerous challenges in the past, including incessant power outages. Fortunately, the upsurge in access to electricity in the country and the reliability of the service provided in this sector during the current year has contributed tremendously to improving the business climate and socio-political life in the country. Notwithstanding this success, we will not relent in our efforts to improve the distribution network and provide power for every community in The Gambia, including the utilization of alternative sources of energy - that is, renewable energy.
One of other events in 2012 was the execution of convicted murderers based on the provisions of the Constitution and Laws of the Land. Such necessary actions despite being constitutional were misconstrued outside The Gambia and hypocritically blown out of proportion unnecessarily. In fostering peace and stability in The Gambia, my Government will never compromise with criminals whose main intention is to stall our progress. When we carried out those executions, we acted within the confines of our national laws, and in accordance with our commitment to the rule of the law. As a nation, we denounce violence in all its forms, and my Government will always maintain zero tolerance for violence, anarchy, murder, rape, drugs, corruption, and sadistic criminal disguised in any religion to slaughter innocent people under the name of any cult - I call it cult because none of the main religions fro Allah's prophets enjoined any act of violence and mass murder in pursuit of establishing or expanding such a religion.
Fellow Gambians, Friends of The Gambia, Dear viewers
As we strive to maintain a healthy nation, we will work hard to educate the nation. Linked to this, it is worth mentioning that the education sector continues to be a source of pride for us and a catalyst for attaining economic superpower status we are fervently working towards. The intensification of the Primary Teacher's Certificate Extension Programme, introduction of the donkey cart to enhance school access, the quality improvement initiatives relating to teacher content knowledge, training of Mathematics and Science teachers, and the cash transfer system are among the innovations within the sector.
At the upper echelons of the education system, graduates from the tertiary and higher education level have increased in critical areas that were before now undersubscribed. Hence, this year's convocation ceremony marked the inauguration of The University of The Gambia (UTG) Science Park and first graduation ceremony of home-trained lawyers, some of whom now support the Gambian bench in their quest to adjudicate or deliver justice. The number of doctors graduated in 2012 is unprecedented, giving us the reassurance that the ratio of doctors to the population will continue to improve. In addition, the graduation of the first batch of UTG students tutored through distance learning is one of a number of newest strategies employed to expand access to university education. Happily also, much of the preparatory work leading to the civil works for the UTG campus in Faraba Banta has been done, and construction works will begin in 2013.
Fellow Gambians, Friends and well wishers of The Gambia
The declaration of 2012 as Year of STI prompted nation-wide activities that ranged from radio and television sensitization programmes, discussions, essay competitions, parades and exhibitions to the organization of the First National Science, Technology and Innovation Exhibition and Conference, which was held recently. For the successful commemoration of the year, we thank the STI Ministerial Committee under the chairmanship of the Minister for Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology, supported by the STI National Technical Committee. I have followed the celebrations in various regions and municipalities, and I thank all Mayors and Governors for their cooperation with the Ministerial Committee. In the year ahead, all sectors should cooperate to implement the strategies developed to harness Science, Technology and Innovation for the rapid and sustainable development of the nation.
Fellow Gambians, Friends of The Gambia, Distinguished viewers
No year passes without trials or challenges, hence we always pray for a prosperous future. For the coming year, therefore, let us look forward to a brighter world, but we must work hard and pray for peace, prosperity and security to return to the African continent in particular and to the whole world in general. Let us resolve to coexist peacefully, and as expected, continue to strive to explore and learn, and to grow, live well and improve our lot.
Last year at this time, I said that it was imperative that we took charged of our destiny by inculcating in ourselves a culture of work ethics and a strong sense of discipline in our daily lives so that we would transform our dear nation in to the peaceful economic superpower that we set out to achieve in our Vision 2020. Well, the year, 2020 is only seven tears away therefore, it is incumbent on all citizens to unite and work together in order to achieve our national targets irrespective of our various political affiliations. To transform The Gambia into an economic superpower requires sacrifice, hard work, patriotism and honesty on the part of each and every one of us. There is no other route or short cut.
Fellow Gambians, Friends of The Gambia and Distinguished viewers
As regards our social life, respect for one another is inevitable if we are to remain knitted as one family. It is imperative that we endeavour to understand one another and avoid inflicting discomfort or pain on anyone else. As we gear up for the New Year, we should be ready to take advantage of the opportunities that lie ahead for this great country. I am confident that, together we can surely build and transform this country into one that will be the envy of the world.
Globally, I reaffirmed that The Gambia will uphold the banner of peace, development and cooperation and adhere to a foreign policy of peaceful coexistence and respect for one another's sovereignty. Unfortunately, we will take the road of peaceful development and implement s strategy of mutual benefits. We will continue to develop and strengthen friendly cooperation with all friendly nations and participate actively in efforts by the international community to deal with global issues. All these are geared towards building a harmonious world of lasting peace and prosperity for all people.
Before concluding, allow me to reiterate the point that since the advent of the second republic, eighteen years ago, The Gambia has grown and prospered. The pace continues unabated for many more years by the grace of the Almighty Allah. In consequence, I pledge to continue to serve this nation with all my heart and soul.
However, one person does not make a nation, which implies that I am not the nation. It is all of us citizens of The Gambia, who constitute the nation. Therefore, my Government will march forward with all genuine Gambians and friends of The Gambia, convinced that we will guarantee a brighter future for all. Let us support one another, as we journey through the future - loving, understanding and caring for our fellow travelers on this journey.
To each of you, I send sincere wishes for happiness in the coming year, with a special thought to our Christian brothers and sisters with whom we are celebrating this blessed season. To the vulnerable amongst us, whether young or old, and to those whom the accidents of life have brought despair, I use this opportunity to assure them that they will not be abandoned. In the face of isolation and solitude, which are widespread in modern society, I pray that 2013 becomes the year to restore meaning to the beautiful word, "fraternity."
This being the case, I intend to build a one thousand, one hundred and eleven beds multipurpose hospital dedicated to treatment of HIV and AIDS patients. To implement this project, I will bank on the benevolence of the Almighty first and foremost and the kindhearted members of the human race through fund raising, cultural, musical, and sporting events. This hospital I hope will be inaugurated and fully operational by 2015 In Sha Allah. With this project coming to fruition, we intend to treat ten thousand HIV/AIDS patients every six months through natural medicine. I therefore count on the support and understanding of all and sundry.
On this note, may Allah the Almighty Subhanahu Wa Ta'ala take in his care our affairs and ease for us the burden of the journey to eternal salvation and peace. I wish you a happy New Year and thank you for your kind attention.