Ramadan Mubarak . Sincere gratitude to Allah for enabling us to witness the holy month of Ramadan. I pray for all our intentions and exerted efforts of worship be accepted and the nation and the broader world at large be blessed . This Ramadan has been a challenging one as we and the rest of the world face a deadly pandemic that has significantly disrupted normal life and imposed substantial difficulties on individuals and society as a whole . Nearly all societal activities of value from congregational religious practices to vital commercial engagements as well as everyday living itself have been adversely affected with short and long term consequences that are hard to quantify . As real and hard as the situation is , we have seen what is best in our people manifest itself in the help, prayer and compassion our people continue to extend to those in greater need . Through individual and collective effort , we are navigating these troubled waters united in the spirit of caring for each other . I pray for Allah to strengthen our will and ability to forge ahead together and emerge better and stronger from this difficulty.
I want to take a moment to once again thank our frontline health workers for their valiant efforts in keeping us safe under difficult circumstances. With limited resources and acute infrastructure and logistical challenges, they are trying their best to mitigate the spread of a pandemic that has paralyzed nations that are materially far more well endowed than us . The frontline workers and our healthcare delivery system itself deserve maximum support from all Gambians. That is why we are all outraged and very concerned about the revelations made by the Honorable Minister of Health in an address to Parliament that he faces a persistent and entrenched bureaucracy within his ministry that is scheming in multiple illegal ways to divert urgently needed COVID 19 funds for selfish purposes . This is in addition to instances of inflated material pricing raised by some lawmakers regarding purchases made by government officials from the same pandemic funds . It took an admirable level of integrity combined with genuine frustration for the minister to illustrate how he had to stay into the wee hours of the morning purging ghost names on a fraudulent list officials in his ministry repeatedly submitted to him in a bid to divert funds that were meant for deserving employees. This is an intolerable violation of the law and it is the expectation of Gambians that the government act swiftly to address misconduct within the civil service . The pandemic must not be used as an opportunity to fleece the nation . On the contrary resources mobilized should be utilized to address the urgent needs the ministry identified as well as improve the overall capacity of the severely underfunded sector .
Finally , I would like to heartily congratulate the constitutional review commission for working diligently and consulting widely to produce a draft constitution that broadly reflects the aspirations of the Gambian people. While it is natural that not everyone would find everything they would want in this historic document, the framers have endeavored to produce a document that measures up to what free people in the family of nations live by . It guarantees fundamental rights , promotes liberty , appropriately separates and distributes power among the co equal branches of government in ways that represents a permanent departure from previous constitutional arrangements that has seen excessive power vested in the executive branch . It also guarantees a permanent limit of two terms to serve as president which directly reflects the expressed view of the vast majority of Gambians as was evident during the public consultation period . Such a limit would help anchor our new found democracy on a strong footing and ensure leadership and the ideas associated with them are subject to change and renewal. Ten years is an adequate time frame for successful and dedicated leaders to pursue an agenda for the Gambian people and leave it to successors to build on. Conversely, bad leaders who fail in the responsibilities entrusted to them will have a definite exit time frame sparing the nation the specter of being saddled with failed leaders who are adept at clinging on to power . This gives the Gambian nation an enduring insurance policy that their hard won democracy will thrive on change and renewal .
I once again take this opportunity to thank all citizens for their esprit des corps during this difficult time . Let us all continue to be vigilant and follow the directives of our health authorities to contain this pandemic . Let us cooperate with other government agencies like the security services that are engaged in mitigation efforts in tandem with the ministry of health in the enforcement of prescribed guidelines. In a similar vein, I would like to appeal to the security personnel to help the population comply with the edicts they are charged with enforcing in ways that minimizes adversity for all concerned . In times of challenges to our collective well being, it is vital we work together in the pursuit of solutions. Thank you and May the blessings of Allah be with each us .