SPEECH DELIVERED BY HIS EXCELLENCY MR INGRAM REGINALD OLUFEMI PETERS AMBASSADOR EXTRAORDINARY AND PLENITOTENTIARY TO THE REPUBLIC OF SIERRA LEONE
Your Excellency Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma, President of our sister Republic of Sierra Leone
It gives me great pleasure to stand before you to present my Letter of Credence by which my Head of State His Excellency Mr. Adama Barrow has sent me to you as His Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary. l arrived here in Sierra Leone as the harbinger of His fraternal greetings and best wishes to you and the beautiful people of Sierra Leone.
The pleasure that this honour has given is beyond measure. ln short I feel thoroughly at home in Sierra Leone, which has been a vibrant heartbeat of the commonwealth, Eco was and the AU to name but a few. Sierra Leone has been my second home, not only have we (Sierra Leone and Gambia) been colonial brothers and sisters but also in history and ethnicities. I need not remind your Excellency of the old ties that existed between our two countries which were administered by the British Colonial power as a single colony of Sierra Leone and the Gambia. The consequence of this is that there are inextricable links between the two colonies and later the two nations. There was a constant flow of civil servants and other cadres sent from Sierra Leone to the Gambia and most of these made Gambia their home and presently their offspring’s like myself born in the Gambia and did part of my primary school in Sierra Leone and worked in both government and commerce.
Today particularly in the greater Banjul area a lot of Gambians have regular family visit, of which continue to be made on both sides. During the colonial days and prior to independence and after, Gambians did their A levels in Science and these turn out to be the doctors, dentists, engineers etc because of this, a good number of Gambians attended the then Fourah Bay College and came back to their country to man the posts that were reserves for the British administrators.
ln the early and late sixties a large number of the senior members of Gambian civil servants were graduates of Fourah Bay college.
Mr. president this relationship in other sierra Leonean training institutions and Gambian students in education were sent to Milton Margai and to Njala for Agricultural studies. I do believe and very strongly too, that Gambian institutions very similarly to those could facilitate cooperation and initiate exchanges with these Sierra Leone institutions that have contributed so much in the development of many sectors in the Gambia. This Your Excellency, I would like to take a challenge’ On a personal level my parents as young Sierra Leoneans left their native country Sierra Leone during the colonial days and migrated to the Gambia’ Both participated in community and public life in their adopted country” My Uncle Lenrie Peters was editor of the famous Gambia Echo Newspaper and ran for Public office against the late Boling Brooke Fowlis.
Mr. President the Gambia and sierra Leone maintained many areas of cooperation in the past. This I believe should be revived and strengthened as the presence of Gambians and sierra Leoneans have multiplied over the years in Educational institutions, Agricultural Training, Tourism Development, Cultural Exchanges, Public Administration Development, Health’ Human Resources development, Fisheries among other areas. The recent crisis in our country and the role ECOWAS of which our two countries are members and your personal role in resolving the problem is a living example of symbiotic relationship that has continued to flourish between our two sister countries.
I dare say that the Gambian people shall always remain grateful for the timely intervention by Your Excellency and particularly president Mackie Salle of the Republic of Senegal, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, of the Republic of Liberia and not forgetting President Mohamadu Buhari of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to name a few. It is Mr. President against this background that your effort and that of your colleagues did not go in vain, for which we thank our Almighty Maker that my country is now enjoying relative peace and constitutional tranquility and is fast gaining its lost national dignity and respect from the international Community’
Lest l forget, may I on behalf of the Ministry and Minister of Foreign Affairs, A.M.N. Ousainou Darboe, congratulate Your Excellency in launching the first ever Foreign Service Magazine for which the spirit behind your thinking, “your country’s broad Foreign Policy ideals of promoting national interest, sub regional, regional and inter African cooperation and unity and for the consolidation of international Peace and Security”. Encouragement “for Settlement of international disputes by negotiation, Conciliation, Arbitration and Adjudication”.
“sustained international engagement for a just and peaceful issues within among countries.” These lofty ideals which I believe are ingrained in your Government’s Foreign Policy.
Finally, Your Excellency, let me say that I am ready and determined to put the bar of friendship and cooperation between our two countries to higher heights during my mission as Ambassador in your beautiful country. lt will be my job to concretize the privileged relationship that my country has built up with yours for many decades. ln this Your Excellency, Mr. President, I would need your kind and gracious support.
I thank you