The 52nd independence celebration of the Gambia 2017 came in different style as the newly elected president Mr/ Adama Barrow was sworn in as the 3rd president of the republic of the Gambia. It was the biggest crowd the independence stadium has ever accommodated for any political or sporting event since it was officially opened in 1984.
According to the chairman of the organizing committee , the stadium’s original seating capacity of twenty six thousand was limited to twenty two thousand for the safety of the people.
The stadium was half full at 5am as thousand of people from across the country continue to pour into the arena and at 8am the expected number of audience was reached but with limited security personnel to control the crowd.
The number of people outside the stadium was more than 50,000 and still people were doing everything to force themselves inside the stadium through jumping which led to the injury of dozens of people including three people who later died at the hospital due to the injury they sustained.
The covered pavilion was reserved dominated by people from companies, private institution and Gambian diasporas who received their invitation cards whilst uncovered pavilion was dominated by the coalition supporters from the seven regions of the Gambia.
The dignitaries that were invited included the presidents from Senegal , Burkina Faso, Ghana, Mauritania and Liberia whilst vice presidents of Sierra Leone, Nigeria and Guinea represented their countries. Most of the Gambian ambassadors , exiled former politicians , religious leaders including security were all seated at the VIP section of the stadium.
More than three hundred and fifty journalists from print and electronics media were also accredited to cover the event with GRTS, Nigerian TVC, Senegalese SEN TV and 2STV etc were broadcasting the event live through satellite, It was the largest number of journalists both home and abroad to cover any political or sporting event in the country shows the press freedom of expression and free media is the order of the day in the new Gambia.
The master of the ceremony starting calling the names of special invited guest of honor that included the presidents and the diasporas have attracted several rounds of applaud .
As the former Gambian VP was mentioned a raucous gang of audience boo and yell showing their recalcitrant of protocol towards Isatou Njie Saidy who lost her respect and dignity from many Gambians .
Many regard her as unpatriotic during the political impasse for refusing to resign but instead directly supporting the former president’s illegal extension of his presidency for 90 days through state of emergency until ECOMIG force Jammeh into exile.
The moment of the day came as president Barrow’s motorcade enters the stadium , the razzmatazz from the audience towards the president shows his current approve rating among the Gambians is more than 80%.
Also the dazzle-dazzle from Gambian diasporas including the audience in the stadium is manifested as they all stood up waving their hands with songs and praises of President Barrow as our savior from 22 years of dictatorship.
After impressive military parade from both the Gambian armed with security forces and ECOMIG forces the president addressed the nation by thanking the entire electorates who voted him and ECOWAS countries for their timely intervention to avert conflict during the political impasse.
He pledge to make great reforms in the civil service sectors with emphasize on Education, Agriculture, Youths unemployment, security and rule of law, freedom of expression as his government top agenda.
President Barrow also promised to improve energy sector, infrastructure and exploration of petroleum with mining section that can be use to develop the country.
By: Dawda Bayo