By Nelson Manneh
On his 12th day of touring seven European countries, Ousman Sillah, the National Assembly Member (NAM) for Banjul North, told a gathering of Gambian and Belgian nationals in the city of Antwerp, that the Gambia is not a poor country; but rather her human and natural resource potentials, are yet to be harnessed by any Government, to address the development needs of the population.
The Banjul North parliamentarian made these among other remarks on Sunday, November 11th 2018, while addressing Gambians and friends of the Gambia including Belgian NGOs and investors who were invited to meet with him.
The Banjul North Lawmaker stressed that what is required in the relationship between Africa and Europe, is not dependence but solidarity and partnership; that half of the length of the river Gambia is fresh water with unquantifiable volumes of underground water which could be harnessed to develop agriculture, as well as the abundant sea resources for job creation, among others. He said the country has a huge potential for investments in these and others areas and invited investors to come forward for a win-win venture. The Banjul North NAM described the different forms of relations that can be forged between the two countries such as government to government, government to people and people to people; that partnerships and support should take this into account.
According to Sillah, what is required is strategic planning, focus and commitment on the part of the political leadership, to mobilize and commit resources and partners for investments in these sectors, in a win-win type of arrangement.
He said the humanism and sense of solidarity that allows Europe to accommodate migrants whose labour is needed to develop their countries, should be sustained. He urged Belgian friends of the Gambia to continue propagating this. At some point, the Banjul North NAM was overwhelmed by emotion when he was describing the conditions in which he found Gambian migrants living and suffering in the Italy.
For Gambians in the diaspora, Sillah implored on them to take keen interest in the politics back home. He applauded the diaspora for the support they continue to give to their families back home, and described this support as critical in sustaining many families; that otherwise they would have been in the poverty trap that grips many people in the country. He noted the goodwill around the world which greeted the Gambia immediately after the change of government through elections for the first time, but which is now dissipating if not vanished altogether; that despite this hiccup, all is not lost for the country, as a committed leadership and a politically conscious population can always turn it around for the betterment of the people.
He advised Gambians in the diaspora to be concerned about each other, and promote their collective welfare irrespective of which party one supports or ethno-linguistic (tribe) grouping or religion one belongs to. He stressed the need for ‘One Gambia, One People, and One Nation.