The Head of Media and Public Relations at Gambia’s Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) local Secretariat Essa Sey says he is not aware of any official communication from the OIC to suggest or indicate that the organization’s upcoming Summit slated to be held in The Gambia, would be relocated to another country. Sey was reacting to reports reaching this medium that the OIC Banjul Summit, would be relocated to Jeddah, due to the country’s lack of capacity and serious preparations to host the summit.  

Speaking to the Freedom Newspaper, Mr. Sey, a former Gambian top diplomat in Washington DC, said all plans are afoot to host the OIC Summit in Banjul, as planned by the member state countries. He says Turkey, for example, had invested heavily in training Gambian security personnel ahead of the Summit.

“Gambian police officers are currently in Turkey to be trained ahead of the OIC Summit to develop their skills. Over 1,300 police officers are to be trained by Turkey. There is resource mobilization currently ongoing, including capacity building for officers identified for the OIC summit protection,” he said.

Sey says Turkey has so far committed a lot of funds and resources towards the upcoming OIC Summit. He says The Gambia had benefited from such funds, adding that Gambian officers are being trained currently in Turkey.

“We spent nothing less than two million dalasis (D2 million) each time a new batch of officers are sent to Turkey for training. Nothing has changed so far, as far as the hosting of the OIC Summit is concerned. The Gambian government hasn’t received any official communication from the OIC to suggest that the Summit will not be held in The Gambia,” he added.

Sey told the Freedom Newspaper that to the best of his knowledge, all funds secured by the OIC local Secretariat in Banjul, were given to the country, as a grant and not loan. He says no conditions were attached to the funds that were so far given to the host country.

“We are targeting a budget of two hundred and sixty million dollars ($260 M) for the OIC Summit. Some of the funds have started trickling in. I cannot give you an exact figure. The OIC is consists of 57 member states. We occasionally reach out to them for support. Some would chip in on their own,” Ambassador Sey remarked.

Sey’s statement followed, multiple sources who told us that the OIC Summit will not be held in The Gambia as planned.

“Honorable M’Bai, I have been reliably confided in from reliable sources that the OIC will not take place in The Gambia this year. When I asked my sources why? Their only response was due to lack of proper timing, meaning that The Gambia is not yet ready. Whether true or not, you may dig more into this,” said our source.

Another source remarked: “The Secretariat has not taken any official decision yet.
But there are mumbling and rumblings within the OIC member states, especially those who are members of Arab league. They discussed among themselves privately on the margins of the recently -held Arab League meeting in Tunisia. The contention is that the Gambia is not yet ready logistically, infrastructural (including high standard hotel accommodation) and security-wise to host such a meeting as the OIC summit. Even the caliber and lack of experience of the staff of OIC organizing Office in The Gambia is a major issue of concern to the OIC Secretariat in Jeddah. Increasingly, there is therefore much talk in this regard and the idea is being mooted within too OIC circles to move the venue from The Gambia. No official decision has been taken as yet. This is a “confidential” OIC insider information. By a concerned Freedom Radio Listener. Please keep your sources anonymous.”

Ambassador Sey says there has been a lot of rumors in recent weeks in regards to the upcoming OIC Summit. He maintains that the Summit is going ahead as planned unless otherwise.

Written By Pa Nderry M’Bai

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