BREAKING NEWS: TWO STAFFERS OF THE GAMBIA FOOTBALL FEDERATION (GFF) KEMO CEESAY AND PA MATARR NDOW HAVE ALLEGEDLY VIOLATED GFF RULES, WHICH PROHIBITS ITS STAFF MEMBERS FROM JOINING EXECUTIVES OF POLITICAL PARTIES-GFF’S GENERAL SECRETARY LAMIN JASSEY REVEALS; JASSEY SAYS BOTH CEESAY AND NDOW HAVE BEEN NOTIFIED ABOUT THEIR ALLEGED VIOLATION OF THE GFF RULE!

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The General Secretary of The Gambia Football Federation Lamin Jasseh has disclosed that two of his staffers have allegedly violated GFF rules, which prohibits GFF staffers from serving as Executive members of registered political parties in the country, Freedom Newspaper can authoritatively report. He said the two staffers who are in alleged violation of the said rules are: Kemo Ceesay, the GFF Finance Director and Pa Matarr Ndow. Mr. Ceesay is an Executive member of the United Democratic Party (UDP), Gambia’s biggest opposition party. Ceesay was elected Deputy UDP National Treasurer during the party’s Congress this past December, while Pa Matarr Ndow, was also elected to the APRC Executive.

“It is not only Mr. Kemo Ceesay, who is a member of the UDP Executive, but there is also another staff by the name Pa Matarr Ndow, that are affected by the GFF rules, because it was later discovered,” Lamin Jassey told me in a phone interview on Monday evening.

Mr. Jassey supported his assertion by citing what he called the televised UDP Congress in which Kemo Ceesay’s new Executive role at the UDP was announced.

“It is common knowledge, because I think we all saw it on TV and social media that Kemo has been elected as an Executive member of the UDP, the same goes for Pa Matarr, he is also an Executive member of the APRC. So, it affects them, it may affect other people, for Kemo and Pa Matarr is, the difference is that because they are taking a position, whereas these other one is your conduct, your personal conduct in social media. So, the answer to your question is yes, it affects those two people,” Jassey remarked.

Jassey told Freedom radio Gambia that it is public knowledge that Ceesay and Ndow are Executive members of their respective political parties.

“Yes, so, what we know for now because you know now in The Gambia, you cannot be an Executive member of a political party without people knowing it because these are not done in camera. They are not done in camera, it is very public, you go for congress, they announce their Executive members. In fact, for Pa Matarr, that is how I knew that he was an Executive member of the APRC, when they did their congress not long ago, his name was called out and was made present and he himself admits that he is an Executive member,” he added.

Jassey maintains that Mr. Ceesay and Ndow are in violation of the GFF rules. He adds that the GFF rules in question doesn’t allow staffers of the Federation to serve in Executives of political parties.

“I think that is basically a public knowledge now. I actually listened to your program, where you articulated that very well. I don’t think that is something that you don’t know already, but if I may, hence you asked the question, the staff regulation is very clear that not just to be an Executive member of a political party, but also part of the football federation regulations; political statements either on the print media or on social media, but any other platform, and they should also not use their position or office to basically use it for any other political purpose. And also, this particular one that you asked that no staff can have any political party. So, that is what the regulation said, and it is being served to all staff members including myself. I am not excluded in it; I am part of it. It is a policy that was amended by the football federation Executive Committee Board and it is for everyone. Whoever is an employee of the GFF, it would affect them,” he remarked.

Jassey said he has written to Kemo Ceesay and Pa Matarr Ndow to inform them about their alleged violation of the GFF rules. Ceesay and Ndow had responded to his query, but Jassey wouldn’t disclose duos response.

He said the GFF Executive are aware of the issue and would in due course decide on the fate of Kemo Ceesay and Pa Matarr Ndow.

For more on the story, below is a Q and A interview, we had with Mr. Lamin Jassey. Please read on..

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FN: I am calling you about this story that we are investigating regarding Kemo Ceesay, your Finance Director, we are made to understand that he is also an Executive member of the UDP, what does GFF regulation says on that?

LJ: I think that is basically a public knowledge now. I actually listened to your program, where you articulated that very well. I don’t think that is something that you don’t know already, but if I may, hence you asked the question, the staff regulation is very clear that not just to be an Executive member of a political party, but also part of the football federation regulations; political statements either on the print media or on social media, but any other platform, and they should also not use their position or office to basically use it for any other political purpose. And also, this particular one that you asked that no staff can have any political party. So, that is what the regulation said, and it is being served to all staff members including myself. I am not excluded in it; I am part of it. It is a policy that was amended by the football federation Executive Committee Board and it is for everyone. Whoever is an employee of the GFF, it would affect them.

FN: And If I hear you, are you saying that Mr. Kemo Ceesay, is in violation of that regulation?

LJ: It is not only Mr. Kemo Ceesay, but there is also another staff by the name Pa Matarr Ndow, that are affected, because it was later discovered.

It is common knowledge, because I think we all saw it on TV and social media that Kemo has been elected as an Executive member of the UDP, the same goes for Pa Matarr, he is also an Executive member of the APRC. So, it affects them, it may affect other people, for Kemo and Pa Matarr is, the difference is that because they are taking a position, whereas these other one is your conduct, your personal conduct in social media. So, the answer to your question is yes, it affects those two people.

FN: What is Pa Matarr’s last name?

LJ: Ndow.

FN: Since you said that both are in violation of the GFF regulation, what are you doing as a Football body to correct the said violations?

LJ: You see, there are procedures Pa, in anything and everything that you do and as a football federation is no exception. So, for me, my role is to, I don’t make policies, I implement the policies of the Executive and in this particular thing, apparently everyone will be reminded including myself. So, let me not take myself out it, I am part of it myself. And also, the Executive of The Gambia football federation, right now as we speak, the matter is in the hand, it is just like when you take a matter to court, you don’t want to preempt, so, I don’t want to preempt. I can confirm clearly that yes, there is these rules within our rules and regulations and yes there are two people who are serving in political parties Executive, that is also confirmed, and yes, this matter is before the Executive, so, I think now it is for the Executive to basically decide as to what is basically going to be the next direction as far as I am concerned.

FN: And how soon do you thin the Executive of the GFF will address the issue, how soon will they act on this?

LJ: Definitely, I don’t think I am in the position of saying that. This matter is a policy matter. The Executive has a say on this. As far as I am concerned, I awaits their directive.

This is an opportunity to really also clear few things Pa. It is a great opportunity, though you did not, your paper did not write it, so, when this thing came out, I was again, again, accused, people were saying Lamin Jassey wants Kemo Ceesay out of GFF because he wants Kemo Ceesay to support NPP. Any right-thinking person, anybody who is affait with institutions and how they are run; how can you just say that? It is madness to think that way, but all the same if you are a leader, Pa, everything get turn at you. As far as I am concerned, let me use this opportunity, somebody wrote that me and Kemo even had exchanged blows and stuff, those who went to the stadium, when we get qualified, I was celebrating with him. I have no problem whatsoever with Kemo. This matter, I have no hands in it. This law is there for me, and Kemo. It is just that my job and his role is different. My role is I implement the policies. Executive make policy and they say General Secretary implement it. So, that is it. I have no role in it. Those who were going around telling that me, I am the one plotting against this man, they really need to seek forgiveness, because Pa, “Dema Tongye, Dema Tongye,” I have been offended. I have been offended. I have no hand in this whatsoever.

FN: And how would react to the allegation that you are affiliated with NPP. You are critics are accusing you of being an NPP supporter. Are you an NPP supporter?

LJ: That is very good, no rule in the GFF says that nobody should support a political party, no rule, in fact that will be against our human right. What they are saying is you cannot be taken a position in a political party. You cannot go on a political platform and make a political statement, but of course everyone has a right to support any party you want.  For your information, I don’t even have an NPP ID Card. I will not lie to you. I have my political affiliation just like Kemo has.

FN: You could be an NPP sympathizer, but you are not a card holder?

LJ: Yes, just like all other staffs, some of my staffs are sympathizers of Citizens Alliance (CA), some are sympathizers of APRC, some are sympathizers of GDC, GMC, all the parties. You cannot stop people from doing that because you will be violating their human right.  However, just like the Civil Service, let me just simplify it, you know a permanent secretary can support a party, but you cannot go on a political platform and make a statement.

FN: That’s gonna be in violation of the GO.

LJ: Thank you, Pa, you got it there and that is basically if you want to simplify it for people to understand, that is it.  And a permanent secretary cannot be an Executive member of a political party.

FN: And Mr. Jassey, if I may ask, with regards to Pa Matarr Ndow and Kemo Ceesay, is the GFF in violation of FIFA rules?

LJ: There is a confusion there. This is a GFF staff rules So, we are staff of The Gambia Football Federation, we are guided by… it is just like when you said the General Order, the General Order is there for the staff of the Civil Service. You also have Ministerial posts, that is for political appointees, they also have their disciplinary code and stuff, so, there are different layers. FIFA, you have people in FIFA, for example, Senghore, in Senegal, is the Mayor of Goree and now he is the Vice President of CAF, but he is a politician, you understand, he is a political appointee. We are more like if you simplify it, we are more like Civil Servants, that is why the General Secretary is neutral, even though you are appointed by a political head, like for example Kabba is a political person, because he came to the Federation through election, clubs voted him in, but we as his General Secretary and all our staff cannot be affiliated to any of those clubs or use our position to favor any of those clubs.

FN: How would FIFA feel upon realizing or knowing that there are two staffers of the football body, the GFF, who are affiliated with political parties in The Gambia, they are Executive members of political parties, how would FIFA feel upon knowing this?

LJ: That is well, really you are now driving me into an unchartered territory. My person view is that maybe FIFA staffers cannot be Executive members of political parties, then they will assume that football federation members cannot also be, but one general rule is this, if the football federation set their own rule, and FIFA would expect that the football federation will then obey their own rules, if I put it that way that they will expect if you set your rules, they will expect that.  For example, let take example of our constitution, it is The Gambian people, who voted the constitution and say this is the law, the international, the UN, and all these multinational institutions will expect that the leader obeys those laws and if they don’t obey you will see what happened, they make statements. So, I would assume that, that they would think, that we should be adhering to our own rules.

FN: And why is the GFF not adhering to its own rules, why the procrastination, why is GFF not taking action to address this issue?

LJ: Like I said, I don’t wanna delve into what GFF will do, at what time they are going to do it, I don’t think there is a procrastination in my view. I think there are processes and procedures in any administration and I believe that those processes and procedures will be followed, but I cannot preempt what is going to happen, neither can delve into that, because really it would be unfair if I don’t tell you the rule exists because it is public knowledge number one, number two, I cannot also tell you that there are people it affected, they know that it affects them and they have been notified formally. So, now what it is that it is in the hands of the Executive and I told you, we were busy, we were really busy with this qualification, so, every attention and up till now, that is what is happening. But I am pretty sure that this is not a one man show, it is the whole Executive, it is the Board, and they are very much aware, So, I trust that they will do the right thing at the right time. That is what I believe.

FN: So, it is only Ndow and Ceesay who are affected?

LJ:  Yes, so, what we know for now because you know now in The Gambia, you cannot be an Executive member of a political party without people knowing it because these are not done in camera. They are not done in camera, it is very public, you go for congress, they announce their Executive members. In fact, for Pa Matarr, that is how I knew that he was an Executive member of the APRC, when they did their congress not long ago, his name was called out and was made present and he himself admits that he is an Executive member.

FN: But as the General Secretary of GFF, have you written to them, to inform them that they are in violation of your rules?

LJ: All of them, everyone is notified including the two.

FN: Both Kemo Ceesay and Mr. Ndow have been notified?

LJ: All of them, everyone has been notified, so when I mean everyone, every staff has been notified about this including Kemo and Pa Matarr Ndow, yes.

FN: And what was their reaction?

LJ: You see then I am now going into… You will excuse me not to go into that. Ha ha.

FN: Why is that you don’t wanna to talk about it?

LJ: I think I have cleared the whole thing in that case. For that one what they say personally, for now it would be premature, I think it would not be good, I will not do justice to them to disclose that because that is, I would assume…. this is a personal thing in the sense that they are employees, they are staffers, so what they replied to was for the attention of the Executive, not to myself, my duty was to inform all the staff, including them and whatever response they gave was for the Executive.

FN: So, I take it that they refused to relinquish their positions, they don’t want to resign?

LJ: Laughter. I would neither confirm or decide that part, really, like I said, you just excuse me, for me, I have done what I have done and exhausted all the administrative procedures and now it is in the hands of the Executive. But what they say or what they don’t say in regards to their thing, I think that is not something I want to delve into.

Editor’s note: The full interview would be aired in our Tuesday radio program. Stay tuned.

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