By MUHAMMED S. BAH
Government’s Spokesperson Ebrima Sankareh, has confirmed in a press release that D11, 250,000 (eleven million, two hundred and fifty thousand dalasi) was donated by an anonymous philanthropist, whose name was not revealed.
The press release states: “Following widespread reports and unsubstantiated claims that President Adama Barrow gave D11,250,000 to Gambian pilgrims on Hajj in Saudi Arabia, The Gambia Government wishes to clarify the nature and circumstances of the said story as it is now trending on social media, for all the wrong reasons”.
According to the release, President Barrow in June this year, was accompanied by a high-powered delegation, to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, to renew his Government’s excellent bilateral cooperation and the historic ties between the Saudi and Gambian peoples; that some “generous and anonymous Saudi philanthropists, promised the Gambian President that they were going to generously consider their Gambian Muslim brethren during this year’s pilgrimage”.
“Consistent with the spirit of the Hajj and the Muslim feast of Id al Adha, and aware of the associated expenses, a member of those anonymous benefactors, generously fulfilled the promised package to President Barrow and presented to The Gambia’s Saudi ambassador, His Excellency Omar Gibril Sallah, the sum of D11,250,000 for onward transmission to the Gambian Head of State”.
The release further stated that once President Barrow received news of the good gesture, he immediately instructed Ambassador Sallah to work with members of the Gambia Hajj Commission and the President’s Religious Adviser Dembo Bojang, to fairly disburse the entire funds among all Gambian pilgrims without delay.
Acting on the President’s directives, Ambassador Sallah and designated officials, rationed the entire gift package among the various airlines involved in the transportation of Gambian pilgrims to the Saudi Kingdom, who then shared the charity among the intended beneficiaries.
The release continued: “Accordingly, Gambians are reminded that despite claims to the contrary, President Barrow does not have the luxury of giving out presidential largesse, as was customary in the past. Evidently, President Adama Barrow stands out as a committed democratic reformer, who wants to leave a legacy anchored in the international norms and values of transparency, accountability and Constitutional due process, where all citizens are treated as equals. There is therefore, neither moral nor ethical equivalence between President Adama Barrow and his predecessor, who looted millions while the Gambian people lived in abject poverty and misery.
Recently, because of the worrisome revelations by the ‘Janneh’ Commission on the scale of gross financial impropriety at The Central Bank of The Gambia, the Barrow Government working in solidarity with the National Assembly, enacted a new landmark legislation that will end fiscal indiscipline, deter corruption and reckless spending by corrupt Government officials, and their surrogates.’’
Following the widespread news of this donation, a lot of Gambians expressed their feelings on social media sites, that Barrow would have used this money to develop other areas such as the health and agriculture sectors.