In a damning and indicting investigative report dated October 29th 2018, Gambia’s Ombudsman Fatou Njie Jallow, has ordered the embattled Social Security, Housing and Finance Corporation Managing Director Muhammed Manjang to return the seven days per diem allowances that was paid to him amounting to D103,040 to attend a meeting in Sierra Leone, which he never attended in the first place. “The 7 days per diem paid to the Managing Director amounting to D103,040 to attend a meeting in Sierra Leone which he never attended should be refunded to the corporation without delay,” Ombudsman Jallow wrote in a report addressed to the Secretary General and Head of the Civil Service Ebrima Camara. The report entitled: “SOCIAL SECURITY AND HOUSING FINANCE CORPORATION MEMBERS OF STAFF PETITION AGAINST THE MANAGING DIRECTOR MUHAMMED MANJANG” has cited Manjang for ethical misconduct, abuse of the corporation’s entertainment budget, gross violation of the service rules, discrimination, favoritism, among others.

“Sending Mrs Isha Bayo and Mr. Pa Yusupha Gaye for overseas training instead of allowing them to pursue the ACCA in the country, purchasing two mobiles for the Managing Director costing D119,435,50 within a period of one year and the Managing Director’s failure to retire the 7 days per diem amounting to D103,040 to the corporation contradicts the Managing Director’s austerity measures,” the nineteen page indicting Ombudsman report against MD Manjang stated.

The Ombudsman also noted that “Isha Bayo’s selection for overseas training was unprecedented in the history of the corporation.  She was not confirmed in her appointment as cashier at the time she was sent on training. This is a clear sign that there was favoritism and preferential treatment regarding her award of scholarship for the simple fact that there were members of staff that served the corporation for more than 3 years with a similar qualification but were not given the opportunity to be trained overseas. One can deduce that the awarding of scholarship to Pa Yusupha Gaye was a cover up to conceal the favoritism and preferential treatment given to Mrs Isha Bayo. As our findings revealed that only Isha was initially selected.”

The Ombudsman recommends that the shortlisting and interviewing process of the current vacant position be quickened so that the vacant positions can be filled.

The Ombudsman also said the management of the SSHFC should ensure that there is a training policy in place to guide the training needs of the institution.

” Promotion and training should depend on appraisal of staff and institutional needs. It is important that staff are appraised and their training needs, weakness identified for building their capacity and that of the institute rather than giving staff the choice to accept or decline training offer,” she said.

“For effective measure SSHFC should train members of staff locally where preferable before training them overseas such as in the case of Mrs Isha Bayo and Pa Yusupha Gaye. ACCA programs are available locally. There should be equal treatment of members of staff. Aji Yamoundow Jagne should equally be refunded her health insurance premium as was done for Sirra Begay Foon,” the Ombudsman added.

Competent members of staff of SSHFC the report went on, should be nominated to fill the existing vacant board seats to represent the SSHFC interest on the various boards such as Trust Bank Home Finance and Gam-Petroleum without delay. Our investigations revealed that the board seats are vacant, the report said.

MD Manjang has also been cited by the Ombudsman for discriminating at old age staffers at the SSHFC. The Ombudsman found that Manjang was not keen at availing training opportunities to staffers at the age 40 and above. His reason was that older staffers were likely not going to stay long on the job compared to the younger ones.

“The Managing Director’s statement that his priority is not to train staff in their 40’s but to train young staff that are more likely to serve the institution longer is discriminatory and contravenes section 33(3) of the 1997 Constitution of the Republic of The Gambia, which states “….no person shall be treated in a discriminatory manner by any person acting by virtue of ant law or in the performance of the functions of any public authority.”

Mr. Manjang is a former banker. His handling of the SSHFC’s entertainment budget was also queried by the Ombudsman. He has been cited for abusing the corporation’s entertainment budget. He was using the funds to feed his family at a high end hotel in The Gambia called Coco Ocean.

“The Ombudsman recommends that the Managing Director should refund to SSHFC the sum of D29,869,85 being money spent on dinners at Coco Ocean Resort Spa and KORI d’OR with his family members without delay. This is because the entertainment vote is not meant for his family but for office and official guests. Misusing of Public funds must be discouraged,” the report stated.

“The Managing Director’s claim that he spent D27,000 on the entertainment vote is incorrect. Investigation revealed that he spent D29,869.85 on dinners at Coco Ocean Resort Spa and KORI d’OR,” Ombudsman Jallow remarked.

The Managing Director, said the Ombudsman, should be guided by the relevant laws, service rules and policies in taking and making administrative and management decisions. She also said the Managing Director should use the institution’s funds judiciously.

Written By Pa Nderry M’Bai

Below is the Ombudsman investigative report on the SSHFC saga.
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