Gambia: Letter To The Editor: REVELATIONS EMERGING FROM THE SOCIAL SECURITY AND HOUSING FINANCE CORPORATION

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REVELATIONS EMERGING FROM THE SOCIAL SECURITY AND HOUSING FINANCE CORPORATION

MUHAMMED MANJANG, SSHFC MD, THE EPITOME OF GREED, SELFISHNESS, FAVOURITISM, CORRUPTION AND BLATANT INJUSTICE:

WRITTEN BY A CONCERNED GAMBIAN

When the change from dictatorship, which we all fought so hard with our lives until it finally vanished, we got the belief and hope that our past maladministration and malpractices surrounding our institutions shall never be repeated or will minimize to a great extent but NO, this was a fallacy in some institutions like SSHFC who faced the brunt of Jammeh’s gross mismanagement of public funds. Mr Edward Graham, erstwhile MD was let go supposedly to give way to be inquired by the Janneh Commission. Fair enough, I agree. I thought this was a grave mistake from the authorities simply for his extensive experience in and understanding of the operational issues regarding the institution having served there for nearly 30 years. Graham, with all odds, did exceptionally well in steering the affairs of the corporation under the rule of the brute. The corporation would have succumbed to its knees if it were not for his sound administrative and robust financial management.

Mr Muhammed Manjang ascended to the position starting his reign characteristic of greed, selfishness and disregard for poor Gambian pensioners and the staff of the Corporation. He shuns the use of the previous MD’s official vehicle and let the office bought a brand new Pajero worth 2.5 million Dalasis which was never budgeted for. This is why I sometimes hate us, the so called elites because we have no sympathy for the poor illiterate citizens whose efforts give us these positions in most cases. I guess if he were not a greedy person, he would have just use the previous MD’s official vehicle or at least one of the other exquisite fleet of cars the office had at its disposal but instead, the office spent a whopping 2 million Dalasis on a brand new Pajero. He as well got allocated a utility car for his house basically for his wife. On top of these two vehicles, he also allocated himself a standby car right in the office with a standby driver, to take him whenever he wants to go out during official hours. This is different from the Pajero that is officially assigned for him.

The office, before Manjang came, had already installed a biometric attendance monitoring thumb printing machine. This is for keeping records of the attendance of staff to work and their routine movements. Mr Manjang came and dismantled that machine, spent close to or more than a million Dalasis on a similar functional machine. Sources revealed that there was a gentleman who offered to install that exact type of machine in the office for just 50,000 dalasis but that man’s offer was ignored. This man is Harriet Njie’s brother (a lady in the audit department). You all know why the man’s offer was ignored! Isn’t it?

His other reason for installing the machine, the most strange is; his dislike over how members of the public, whose sweat established this reputable organization, frequent the office building. Perhaps he forgot that those people have their money saved in that building and got all rights to move in and out and at all times to check on how their funds are being managed.

As if the installation of the machine is not enough, he went on to contract a private security firm, G4S, to be in charge of our two main entry points. This made our own able bodied security guards less efficient and effective. Then what is the role of the security guards that the institution employed?

Mr Manjang promised staff of a transformation which he was going to embark upon. He contracted a private auditing firm, paid them millions, to conduct an audit exercise. This was done since last November and the report has since been submitted, but no staff until today sighted or heard about the said report.

Down the lane, the MD began exerting his authority over top management by overruling their opinions, ideas and decisions in their meetings and other issues of relevance pertaining to the institution. He acts very arrogant and looks down upon all other Directors in the institution; because to him, his ideas and opinions are superior to all others in SSHFC- the biggest ignorance attributed to him. Ignorance, because this office has a pool of highly knowledgeable staff who know the nitty gritty surrounding the administration of that institution but the clueless Mr Manjang took them for a trash thinking he knows everything and more than anyone else in that office.

He acts very pompous. His Personal Relationship with the staff is very poor and probably the worst I have ever seen in any head of an institution as he hardly greets any staff whom he meets along the way. At one instance, in the morning, he popped into Mr Baboucarr Nyan’s office while some staff were seated exchanging their usual traditional morning pleasantries. Without a word of greeting uttered to those seated there, he abruptly got hold of Mr Ebrima Gillen’s arm and whisked him away to his office. Mr Nyan was visibly upset by that arrogant and rude behavior of his. How could any good head of an institution act so disrespectful to his staff in that manner?

As we move on, there were information making waves that he was having an illicit affair with a girl (married), Aisha Bayo, a cashier. This girl was on temporary appointment until Mr Graham left. Mr Manjang permanently employed the girl and within a short span of time, reports started emanating that he has fast promoted the girl from a far lower grade to a very high grade. Remember, this promotion was never in the budget. The staffs, especially those of the Finance Department, were very upset about this gross injustice and started making noise over the issue but had to eventually let it go. This happened because the girl laid down her conditions to the MD the way she liked it. The charm of this girl! Chei Gambian men!

Mr Manjang was bought a close to 65,000 dalasis mobile phone only for him, in just less than two months after having that phone, to claim that the said phone was lost. The biggest lie ever because, tangible reports from certain staff close the said Aisha Bayo saw the phone with her and as colleagues; she reveal to them that it was given to her by the MD as a gift or token of their love. A new phone of same worth was procured for the cruel Mr Manjang. Stupid! Isn’t it?

Another episode, the height of his corruption and injustice, began unfolding as we began to hear from sources in the Finance Department that he Manjang was on the verge of approving a 4.5 million Dalasis to pay for a 3 years ACCA program in Ghana for the same Aisha Bayo. This again was never budgeted for. You remember her promotion right? This brings the million dollar question as to what is so special about this girl. This girl could barely execute her functions properly as she is still being trained on the job by some senior staff in the Finance department. What is more strange about this injustice is that, long serving reputable and hard-working staff like Muhammed Sallah, Burry Saine, Baboucarr Njie and Baba Saidykhan all got admission into universities in Ghana and Malaysia only for them to apply and be denied sponsorship and allowances from the MD. Baboucarr Njie and Burry Saine’s case are far more severe than the rest as they were denied salaries totally while on their studies right now. Baboucarr Njie and Burry (a lady), are suffering now in Malaysia as I write this piece. All these staff mentioned got more than 10 year service in the institution. Is this not the peak of gross injustice? Truly, this man is heartless.

Right now, the confirmation of acting appointments and promotions of hardworking staff that are already in the budget have not been acted upon for close to one year and six months respectively. These are already in the approved budget for the year 2018 but because of the gross injustice and heartlessness of this MD, he still did not act upon them. This is the height of cruelty to one’s staff in an organization.

A month ago, there was a meeting in the U.S that was related to the Pension Unit of the Department of Research and Policy Planning (DRPP). A representative was to be sent for that official function and the MD went on to select a girl who was so attached to him and this particular girl is in fact in the Actuaries Unit. This was vehemently opposed by the Director of DRPP, Mr Pierre FM Gomez citing unfair selection the MD made. Mr Gomez made it clear to him that the girl was not qualified to be selected for the trip as it does not concern her unit but the arrogant and defiant Manjang went ahead to approve the trip for the girl. A highly recognized hardworking gentleman in that Pension Unit, Mr Kebba Touray, never travelled since joining SSHFC in 2005. Why not consider a person like him in this instance?

Mr Manjang awarded a so called “system management” contract to a close friend of his, one Jamal Miknas. The man is being paid a whopping 45,000 dalasis monthly salary with an office vehicle assigned to him when the inspectorate unit is having a shortage of vehicles to go to the field on a daily basis. This contract did not go through the SSHFC board until after he already did the approval. The indefatigable and principled Modou Camara, Senior Manager, Audit Department had a push and pull with him on the legality of the said contract but Manjang was able to out muscle the young principled Auditor into succumbing after having invited him right in his office and bullied him. It is worthy noting that SSHFC system is one of the best if not flawless. Manjang also had an issue with the Director of IT Department, Mr Dodou Jain on this illegal contract because Jain could not find any rationale behind it. He was however defiant against Mr Jain’s position.

The usual traditional Ramadan gift given to lower level staff (cleaners, securities, drivers and Messengers) which is annually given by institutions was initially denied to the staff of SSHFC this Ramadan, even after an appeal was made to him by Pa Kasim Konteh, chief security and one Yankuba Charty. Manjang has no bit of empathy for poor staff of the Corporation when the institution is spending excessively on him. He however, after blowing the whistle about his terrible misdeeds, changed his mind and decided, late last week, to give a 25kg bag of sugar each to the lower level staff.

The institution also spends, on a monthly basis, nothing less than 50,000 dalasis on internet service in his home. This is obnoxious to say the least given the poor earning power of the average staff in that corporation whom he has shown no regard for. I can safely vouch that Manjang is a very selfish, greedy and wicked head contrary to what he portrays in the open. He has been going to hotels and brings those bills only for the office to foot. Notable among those is the Coco Ocean Beach Hotel and spa where he, on some occasions went to, and sends the bill to the office for payment. This is ridiculous!

Right now, the reserved plots of land offered for sale to on-the-spot buyers was advertised by the Housing Department and some plots were left out of the sale as the unjust and greedy Manjang ordered the Housing Department to make those reserves for him. The reserved plots of land are the Brusibi Housing Extension Project. This is most definitely a scheme for him to give those reserve plots to his close friends and family members which is grossly unfair to the citizenry as they deserve equal treatment.

Mr Manjang has no empathy for poor Gambian claimants who apply to withdraw some percentage of their benefits before their normal retirement age of 60, mostly due to contingencies like loss of job, ill health, resignation or early retirement. Manjang has heartlessly spread his wings of wickedness to these poor claimants by disapproving the application for waivers for cooling off period for claims. Note that claims that are not normal retirement have to go through a cooling off period ranging from 3 to 6 months at most. This is required in order to make sure the employee and claimant is not back to gainful employment within that period. The previous management was approving all those waivers as it saw the need NOT to make these poor jobless family men and women suffer excessively before laying their hands on their meager amounts of money.

Strangely however, and Manjang being the unjust person he is; has been approving waivers for his friends and acquaintances and rejecting all others. Noticeable among those he approved was that by Ms Abby Sarr. The reasons advanced as to him endorsing the waiver of this lady is almost same reason advanced by all other claimants. What type of discrimination and injustice is this?

His injustice led to the resignation of one of the institution’s young brains, Ms Amie Njie who was the PRO of the office until her unceremonious departure. Ms Njie was a very brilliant and eloquent young energetic lady. The young lady got fed up with how the office and its staff were being micromanaged by this selfish MD.

I am again calling on HE President Adama Barrow to urgently free the staff of SSHFC from the brutality and cluelessness of this man before it is too late. The general staff are fed up with him and lost any bit of respect and regard for him as we speak. Mr Manjang is not fit to manage that institution as he is very selfish, unjust and corrupt. Mr Manjang does not have a clue as to how SSHFC should be run. Please bring people who worked in this institution and know the place to their finger tip. People like Mr Tumbul Danso, Mambury Njie, Mr Edward Graham and Abdoulie Cham, the present Director of Finance, can be the best fits for the institution.

NOTE: On Friday the 18th of this month, he invited Mr Modou Camara, the Staff Representative, in his office and claimed that the study program approved for Aisha Bayo was in fact signed by Mr. Abdoulie Cham, Director of Finance and not him, all in his desperate bid to absolve himself of any wrong doing; what a mockery to himself as the head of the institution.

Editors Note: The author’s views do not reflect the position of the Freedom Newspaper. Thanks for your attention.

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