Monday, August 4, 2008
Aja Dr Isatou Njie Saidy, the vice-president and secretary of state for Women’s Affairs, has joined growing calls for regional integration, a possible path to continental integration.
She was speaking at the Kairaba Beach Hotel, where she presided over the opening ceremony of the 35th Ordinary Session of the OMVG Council of Ministers meeting, last Friday.
The vice-president told delegates that Africa was bedevilled with formidable challenges which culminate in undesirable socio-economic indicators; a ‘viable panacea’ for which would be total integration of the continent.
Dr Njie-Saidy noted that The Gambia, under the dynamic leadership of President Alhaji Dr Yahya Jammeh, had been an ardent advocate for the integration of the continent.
“We look forward to the day when Africans will come together as one, harness their human and natural resources and optimally utilise them for posterity,” she said.
The OMVG is a regional body; comprising The Gambia, Guinea Conakry, Guinea Bissau, and Senegal; which work on joint projects, mainly agriculture and energy production.
Vice-President Njie-Saidy told delegates, whose experts and consultants met prior to the session, that in the wake of the world food crisis, concerted efforts at regional and international bodies in developing strategies and actions to ameliorate the situation are in place.
In that spirit, she threw a challenge to the OMVG, as a regional organisation, to contribute their quota in addressing the crises, using the potential of Sambangalo and Kaleta Dams which, she believed, can boost agricultural production, particularly rice, horticulture and animal husbandry, thus, contributing to food security. The need to attain food security now, she said, cannot be over-emphasised.
The fabric of any society, she went on, can easily be threatened by food insecurity “which makes food security to be synonymous to national security”.
We in The Gambian, Dr Njie Saidy said, are paying heed to the call of President Jammeh, for his ‘back-to-the-land’ policy. She cited the initiation of ‘Operation feed yourself’ as a proclamation by the Gambian leader that is geared towards propagating the philosophy of “eat what you produce, and produce what you eat”.
The Gambian vice-president acknowledged the steady progress being registered by the regional body in the natural resource area, including rural water supply, forestry, road infrastructure development, health and credit schemes. These sectoral interventions, she noted, will complement efforts in the OMVG member countries. She also implored them to consider forestry projects, as those would be quite pertinent in climate change adaptation.
On easy movement of goods and services within OMVG member countries, the vice-president reiterated the unreserved commitment of the government and people of The Gambia to the construction of a toll bridge across the Yelli Tenda/ Bamba Tenda crossing point. Apart from its potential direct economic benefit to The Gambia, the bridge is expected to facilitate trade and improve communication within member countries of OMVG and beyond.
Vice-president Njie-Saidy concluded by urging members to judiciously use their water resources management plan of action.
In his welcome address, the secretary of state for Fisheries, Water Resources and Natural Assembly Matters, Yankuba Touray, urged the body to work hard in the fulfilment of its mission.
He delved into the importance of equity in their dealings, citing that water, for instance, could be a source of conflict. SoS Touray thanked the OMVG Secretariat and the donor community for their unflinching support.
Mr Justino Vieira, the executive secretary of OMVG, described the 35th Session of the OMVG Council of Ministers meeting as a budgetary session, where important components of the integration process for the benefit of “our populations” would be discussed; all aimed at reducing poverty.
Mr Vieira expressed satisfaction with the government, especially President Jammeh, for their support for regional integration.
Other speakers at the ceremony included the heads of the delegations from the respective member countries.
The ceremony was chaired by Lamin Nyabally, the permanent secretary at the Department of State for Fisheries, Natural Resources and National Assembly Matters.
Author: by Kemo Cham