Is the Barrow government trying to coverup the COVID19-Procurement theft?

The Gambia is not a land of idiots. Let us get that! Today’s redeployment of Permanent Secretaries and other government officials would not pass a smoke test. There is something fishy about the sudden deployments.

The development followed local press reports suggesting that there is corruption about Gambia’s COVID-19 procurement outsourcing contracts. The multi-million dalasis rice, onions, cooking oil and other condiments procurement was given to Ms. Fatoumatta Jawara, a strong supporter of President Adama Barrow’s government.

Ms. Jawara is a sister to businessman Abubacarr Jawara. Jawara is a close associate of President Barrow. This was the guy, who was earlier accused of importing firearms into the country, without permit. He was later cleared from that case.

Abubacarr Jawara, has also been licensed to mine sand in The Gambia. This was the same mining site that was licensed to the Carnegie minerals. Millions of dollars are accrued from the said site. The minerals are usually shipped to China.

Jawara also owns a tomato factory in The Gambia.

The rice procurement contract was awarded to Ms. Jawara and other dealers. Though, it was alleged that the bidding process was not fair. It was a prearranged bidding.

Trade Ministry Permanent Secretary Mr. Lamin Dampha, had spoken to the Fatu Network, on Monday, on the alleged procurement fraud. He was removed from that Ministry, on Wednesday, and transferred to the Health Ministry as Permanent Secretary number two.

Interestingly and shockingly, Dampha, has been replaced by Assan Jallow, the Youth and Sports Permanent Secretary. Jallow had a pending corruption criminal case at the police. He and other Agriculture Ministry officials have been accused of stealing and selling a toxic Agriculture Ministry fertilizer to a Senegalese businessman. The charges brought against Jallow and co, was a misdemeanor charge, but it is still pending at the police.

PS Lamin Dampha’s revelations and confirmation of the rice procurement contract that was awarded to Ms. Fatoumatta Jawara, had prompted a massive shakeup in Gambia’s Civil Service. Other Perm Secs have been moved to other Ministries, following his media encounter.

Dampha’s revelations on the COVID-19 procurement program, is seemingly causing rift in the regime. It appears that the State House is on a coverup.

I hope Assan Jallow is not their new “go to guy” to help steal millions from the COVID-19 funds. The redeployment of Assan Jallow to the Trade Ministry speaks volume. How dare can this administration redeploy a PS, who has been accused of theft to an important Ministry like the Trade Ministry? This Ministry has been legally tasked to handle all COVID—19 procurement contracts. Trade works with the Finance and Health Ministries to supervise and coordinate the COVID—procurement.

Health Perm Sec Saffie Sankareh has been moved to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Saffie is a lawyer by profession. She is not only meticulous, but upright.

Hear the government in its justification of the re-deployments: “Consistent with its philosophy of fostering growth and promoting rapid and efficient delivery of resources within all sectors of governance, The Gambia Government acting on Executive advisory, has effected major changes within the Civil Service.”

Even a newborn baby can smell the fraud here. The changes have been effected at a time when the regime is coming under increasing pressure over the way it is handling the COVID-19 procurement funds.

Public officials should refused to be used as financial pawns. All bidding processes should be done in the line with the Public Procurement Act. Failure to follow the said Act, could land wanting officials in legal quagmire after Barrow’s rule. Let justice guild our actions. Thanks for your kind attention.

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