In this vein, let me call on my brothers and sisters, the Gambian youths, to heed my call to go back to the land and the sea to help our parents and our young ones to achieve food self-sufficiency. This call to action is not a new one. It was my clarion call from day one when I took over the reigns of power in this country and I have been explaining this principle in many ways but more specifically through my proverbial three days that define the world: yesterday, today and tomorrow.
Yesterday I called on our youths to join my mission to cultivate our lands and feed ourselves. Some heeded the call, the majority did not. Today after the global food, fuel and financial crises, my calls have been heeded better than before because of the experience that we went through with the rest of the world albeit, the impact was less severe here due to proactive fiscal measures undertaken by my Government to lessen the impact of these crises. Now that most youths are heeding my call to go back to the land, let me invite you all to join me in my mission of making The Gambia self-sufficient in food production by the year 2016.
Already we have great signs that our goal is achievable by the significant increase in food production nationwide not only in recent years, but particularly 2013. In this vein I want to commend all those youths that have joined this bandwagon such as the Youth in Agriculture and Fishing initiative (YAFI), under the aegis of the APRC bureau. I want to encourage other youths to come up with pragmatic projects in the area of agriculture and fishing because my promise to fund such ventures still stands. It is my promise to fund such initiatives and I await project proposals in this direction.
Let me take this opportunity to caution Government officials managing agricultural and other social projects funded by Government loans and grants that the days of paper projects that yield no tangible results are over! We are sick and tired of projects that would spend millions of dollars on the purchase of cars, fuel and per diem for travels only to submit reports at the end of the day that gather dust on our desks without any impact on the livelihoods of our women and children.
The Office of the President is now actively monitoring progress on all projects and the basic defining rule for continuity and job security for project officials is "results or retribution!" you either deliver the expected results or go home at best; and at worst go to the State's five star hotel. We want our projects to create useful outputs while providing the opportunity for gainful employment for the citizens of this country.
On the international front, The Gambia will continue her active participation in our regional and international organisations with a view to continue to contribute positively and significantly in global issues. As a model for peace, stability and religious tolerance, we will continue to advocate for the peaceful resolution of all conflicts without taking sides. Our foreign policy remains anchored on our faith in Allah who has created all of us as brothers and sisters in one human family. We will respect the sovereignty of all nations just like we expect others to respect our independence and sovereignty.
Our principle is based on the equality of nations regardless of size, colour, and other mundane considerations. We stand for the truth and we speak for the voiceless anywhere in the world because we have faith that there is only One God, Allah, before whom we are all equal. We are not against any country or race. We believe in the oneness of humanity and we shall continue to operate our foreign policy within that framework in our dealings with other nations and expecting nothing less than, mutual respect.
As we celebrate yet another new year, we pray for the restoration of peace and tranquility in all the troubled regions of the world, especially on the African continent.
We pray to Allah (SWT) as He taught us at the end of Surah Fatiha to continue to "Show us the straight way, the way of those on whom Thou hast bestowed Thy Grace, those whose (portion) is not wrath, and who go not astray." Aameen.
Happy New Year!