GOOD MORNING MR. PRESIDENT:The forfeiture of Jammeh Assets

Monday, June 17, 2019

Mr. President, we welcome the move taken by the government to forfeit and sell all assets belonging to former President Jammeh and his close associate, Muhammed Bazzi.

Mr. President, former President Jammeh was reportedly earning a monthly salary of One Hundred and Seventy thousand Dalasis (D170, 000). If this was his (Jammeh’s) monthly salary, how possible was it for him to be able to acquire 111 properties, including one in the United States of America in just 22 years of his tenure?

According to the Janneh Commission report, former President, Yahya Jammeh, also had 86 Bank Accounts, four aircrafts and very expensive cars. Therefore, one wonders how on earth he was able to have all these properties and bank accounts.

Mr. President, it’s an open secret that the way he (Jammeh) was spending money was just designed to portray him as a benevolent and generous ruler; yet it was not typically in ways that benefited ordinary Gambians, who are living in an economy that is literally dependent on agriculture.

Central Banks are only supposed to regulate local banks, control currency in circulation, and set interest rates but naturally, individuals cannot use the bank for commercial purposes. But Jammeh treated Gambia’s Central Bank as his personal slush fund.

Mr. President, this sad history, therefore, needs to be regulated. It should not be repeated, ever again! Strong measures and mechanisms should be put in place, most especially at the Central Bank. Our leaders should not be allowed to withdraw money anyhow they like, without going through the right channel, or following the due process. The independence of the bank must also be well protected from political interference.

The way Jammeh manipulated our Central Bank, in fact, violated several of our laws. We should not in any way, allow it to happen in our country again.

Mr. President, as a country with under two million people, The Gambia’s development should have surpassed what it is now if a rapid momentum had been maintained. We should have reached or passed other developed countries, not least with tangible infrastructures to show for it.

However, it’s also a welcomed development that the US government has promised to help The Gambia government recover some of the alleged money and properties reportedly taken by Yahya Jammeh. This development indicates the cordial and bilateral relationship that exists between the two governments. Therefore, the money generated in the sales of Jammeh assets and his properties should be used for other development purposes.

Mr. President, what is so upsetting is the way and manner in which former president Jammeh was getting the money from the Central Bank of The Gambia, even without going through the right procedures. In fact, he was only giving orders or directives to his orderly, to withdraw millions of dalasis from the Central Bank.

Therefore, the system must be fixed with the view to averting such kind of behaviors from our leaders.

Mr. President, there seems to be a shortfall in the domestic currency in circulation. The commercial banks are finding it more and more difficult to serve their various customers because of the herculean task of getting cash from the bankers’ bank.

These are deposits the banks made with the Central Bank. They should be free to call upon the bank when the need arises to serve their clients. The banks are either receiving less than requested, or it is taking them so many hours to receive their moneys. Meanwhile, their frustrated and agitated customers wait. This trend is becoming a few months’ old now, and it needs an urgent solution.

Mr. President, the state of some of the currencies are so bad that some are smelly, dirty and mutilated. Yet they are still in circulation.  This is creating many problems as some people are refusing to accept such banknotes from others as payment for transactions. The dalasi notes are becoming a health hazard. They are becoming unhelpful to business.

The authorities should address this national embarrassment as soon as possible.           

Finally, Mr. President, the new notes should be circulated soonest in order to solve this problem once and for all.

Good Day, Mr. President.