Government “Clarifies” on over D11M Presidential Gift to Pilgrims

Friday, August 24, 2018

Government of The Gambia has issued a statement clarifying the nature and circumstances of the D11, 250,000 that widespread public criticism claimed was given to the country’s 2018 pilgrims by President Adama Barrow.

The statement, signed by government spokesperson Ebrima G. Sankareh stated that the story is now trending on social media “for all the wrong reasons.”

“Following widespread reports and unsubstantiated claims that President Adama Barrow gave D11, 250,000 (Eleven Million, Two Hundred & Fifty Thousand Dalasis) 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.”

The statement reveals that in June this year, President Barrow, accompanied by a high-powered delegation visited the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to renew his government’s excellent bilateral cooperation and the Saudi and Gambian peoples’ long-standing historic ties. “During that memorable visit, 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.”

The statement maintained that consistent with the spirit of the Hajj and the Muslim feast of Edul-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 Gambian Saudi ambassador, His Excellency Omar Gibril Sallah, the sum of D11, 250,000 for onward transmission to The Gambian Head of State.

“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, Hon. Dembo Bojang, to fairly disburse the entire funds among all Gambian pilgrims without delay.”

It stated that 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 statement added that once news of the pleasant surprise reached The Gambian pilgrims, they unanimously expressed their profound appreciation to President Barrow and his anonymous benefactor for the charity given at the most arduous hour of their spiritual journey. “Pilgrim after pilgrim commended both the President and benefactor for their generosity, foresight and understanding. Pilgrims also prayed that the Almighty Allah continues to shepherd and protect him, President Barrow, the First Family, members of his government and the Gambian people.”

It further stated that in a conversation with their correspondent, The Gambian Head of State thanked Allah and thanked the people and Government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for their benevolence and unwavering commitment to fulfill Allah’s wish especially, during such auspicious occasions as the Hajj and the upcoming feast of Eid Al-Adha. “The President specifically prays for the anonymous Saudi benefactor to enjoy continuous good health, longevity and Allah’s wisdom to continue to be at the service of God and humanity.”

The statement maintained that 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 and evidently he stands out as a committed democratic reformer who wants to leave a legacy anchored in 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.”

It stated that 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.

Source: Picture: Ebrima G. Sankareh gov't spokesperson