The Gambian government said the eleven million, two hundred and fifty thousand dalasis (D11, 250,000,) which was earlier reported by state media, to have been donated to The Gambian pilgrims by President Adama Barrow, and it generated a heated reaction on social media, came from some unnamed anonymous Saudi philanthropists. The government wouldn’t disclose the names of the so called Saudi philanthropists, but Government Spokesperson Ebrima G Sankareh, in a statement today said the President met with donors during a visit to Saudi Arabia this year.  “It can be recalled 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,” said a statement issued by the government Spokesperson Ebrima G Sankareh.

“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,” Sankareh added.

According to Mr. Sankareh, President Barrow then instructed his Ambassador to Saudi Arabi Omar OG Sallah to work with his Hajj Commission and Religious Adviser Dembo Bojang for the funds to be shared among the pilgrims.

“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,” Sankareh remarked.

“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,” he added.

President Barrow made similar donation of 58 vehicles to members of Gambia’s National Assembly last year without disclosing the source of the funding. His government has been accused of not being transparent to Gambians.

Below is the full text of the Government statement on the matter.

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Re: The Gambia Government Clarifies the D11, 250,000 Gift to Gambian Pilgrims

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.

It can be recalled 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.

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.

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.

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.

Once news of the pleasant surprise reached the Gambian pilgrims, they unanimously expressed their profound appreciations 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 the generosity, foresight and understanding. Pilgrims also and prayed that the Almighty Allah continues to shepherd and protect him, President Barrow, the First Family, members of his government and the Gambian people.

In a conversation with our correspondent, The Gambian Head of State returned thanks to 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.

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 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.

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