I am most delighted to be in your midst today to share in the joyous occasion of the 11th Convocation Ceremony of the University of The Gambia. At the heart of today’s event are these graduates from different schools and faculties of the University of The Gambia whose achievements we are here to acknowledge and celebrate.
From the outset, let me congratulate every one of you on your great achievement. Indeed you are the pride of this nation, the anchor on which we rest our hopes for a better future.
The overall goal of acquiring a degree, I believe, is to help transform society using the knowledge and skills acquired from university education. Therefore, the burning question in the hearts and minds of all graduands today should be: ‘What constructive change will I bring to this Nation and the world at large now that I have earned this new qualification?’ You are no doubt the potential experts, future leaders and next generation of solution providers in various aspects of national life. I therefore challenge you individually and collectively to do everything possible to contribute your quota in building a strong nation that can stand high and be proud among the community of Nations.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The Theme of this year’s Convocation: ‘Citizen Participation in Nation Building in The New Gambia’ simply means a constructive process of engaging all citizens in building social cohesion, economic prosperity, and political stability in an inclusive and democratic way. Government and its structures and all citizens have a stake in and a duty to actively and effectively participate and improve the process of nation building. In other words, all hands must be on deck to bring about the desired changes.
There is a good link between education and the theme for this Convocation, as education plays a critical role in determining the growth and development of any nation. There is good saying that an educated and enlightened citizenry is a critical asset in the growth and development process of any nation. My administration is conscious of this fact and therefore relentless in its efforts to ensure that the standard of education at all levels is continually improved.
Ladies and gentlemen, as we celebrate this moment, we must remind ourselves of our collective responsibilities. We must defend our hard earned democracy. As citizen we must have that strong spirit of nationalism and citizenship, love and defend our country and sacrifice personal interests for the common good at all times.
In short, it is the responsibility of every Gambian in the New Gambia to:
(i) Respect, support and defend the Constitution and its ideals;
(ii) Promote, participate in and defend democratic processes;
(iii) Respect the rights, beliefs and opinions of others and to live in unity and harmony;
(iv) Render selfless national service when and where required;
(v) Participate fully in local community activities and issues with a view to improving people’s well-being;
(vi) Work conscientiously in whatever position we find ourselves and give necessary support to government institutions and agencies in the maintenance of law and order, peace and stability;
(vii) Sustain our hard earned democracy by holding government accountable to protect and preserve common wealth and public properties; and shun divisive politics and tactics and
(viii) Respect the country’s economic policies, avoid all acts of sabotage and dishonesty; and pay our taxes and support government execute its programmes;
Having outlined the responsibilities of a Citizen, this speech will be incomplete if I fail to add that my administration will continue to provide a conducive environment to enhance respect for the rule of law, fundamental human rights and due process, probity and accountability, all of which are critical components of nation building. My administration will also continue to commit itself to societal welfare by providing social services and a safe environment for our citizens.
Distinguished Ladies and gentlemen, at this juncture I wish to commend the Governing Council and the University Management for their tireless efforts, commitment and sterling administrative qualities in realising the objectives of the University within available resources. I also commend the staff and students of the University for their cooperation with the Council and the Management in making sure that the university is consistent in working towards its vision of being a top-rated University in Africa and in the World. I pledge that my administration will continue to provide necessary support and the enabling environment for the university to grow, excel and achieve its noble vision.
However, it must be noted that an occasion like this provides a unique opportunity for an institution to pause and reassess its vision and mission vis-a-viz its past achievements and challenges with a view to recapturing the best of the past and to brace up to work towards achieving the dreams of its founding fathers. It is my belief that the Governing Council, the University Management and staff as well as students of the University will use the excitement of this occasion for this self-assessment.
To all the proud parents and guardians, spouses and children of graduands, I congratulate you on this joyous and memorable occasion. We recognise the collective nature of this journey and today’s milestone, considering your enormous financial and emotional investments and sacrifice. You have all done well. Bravo.
In conclusion, I once again congratulate the graduands and challenge you to use the knowledge acquired to develop our beloved country. Let us unite for the reconstruction and transformation of our nation and let this country rise again lest the labour of past heroes and Founding Fathers go in vain. Towards this end, it is imperative that I remind you that this celebration marks the end of one journey and triggers the beginning of another important journey – the journey of life – often characterised by uncertainties, challenges and fierce competition.
In this new journey, you must arm yourself with the time-tested weapons of self- confidence and determination and a positive attitude and mind-set at all times.
Finally, always remember people’s attraction to you, especially in the world of work, is the values you have learnt and earned in the course of your stay in University.
Therefore, you must learn to be humble and selfless; dream high and act with confidence and determination; never stop learning and never stop listening; and be committed to excellence and integrity in whatever you do and wherever you find yourself. That is what makes the difference between you and the rest!!!
Thank you for your attention.