By Lamin Cham
& Omar Bah
Days after NAM Sanna Jawara’s accusations that President Barrow was handing out envelopes of money to UDP parliamentarians snowballed in a full-blown scandal, the press and PR director at State House told a local radio that the legislator has misrepresented the facts.
Speaking to The Standard and Star FM’s local news presenter Sarjo Barrow yesterday, Amie Bojang Sissoho (ABS) said there is no existential crisis that could break out that will warrant the president to want to give monies to NAMs to buy their influence.
She explained: “What happened was, there was a time when the president was travelling abroad, some NAMs were at the airport to see him and they sought and got an audience with him. During the discussion, they told him one of their problems was lack of funds to buy petrol to travel to their constituencies and meet with their people. The president told them he would look into the matter. So when he had the means, he called one of his aides, Lamin Cham, and gave him the money and told him to give it to them.
When Standard asked whether only UDP NAMs were given money, she said, “I am not informed about that.”
Asked whether other UDP party regional officials were also given money by President Barrow, she said, “I have no information in connection with that. Contact Lamin Cham.”
Asked how much money the president dished out, she answered non-comittally, “I don’t think the president was dishing out money…”
Earlier in the day, her office issued a press statement on the matter.
It read: “It is with great dismay that to [sic] learn of the series of serious unfounded allegations made by Sanna Jawara, a sitting National Assembly Member, most notably, that the President ‘has started paying some parliamentarians D10, 000 each month in envelopes’. Hon. Jawara went as far as suggesting that some National Assembly Members ‘physically queued up for monthly handouts’ from the president – grave claims that he could not substantiate.
“The claims were maliciously designed to bring disrepute to the person of the president and the office he occupies. Contrary to what Mr Jawara stated, without any evidence whatsoever, no National Assembly Member was invited to State House to receive money in return for any favours, including political support. President Adama Barrow has been supporting and continues to support individuals and groups whenever he can. It was in the same spirit that His Excellency, the President donated vehicles to members of the same body to ease mobility and communication constraints with their constituents.
“The president was elected as an independent coalition candidate. Thus, rather than politicking, he is occupied with finding solutions and addressing the development needs of the people that overwhelmingly elected him into office. Which is why he succeeded in securing several capital investments that would directly impact the lives of ordinary Gambians and drive them out of poverty, as stated in the National Development Plan 2018-2021.
“Moreover, the president’s focus is on the bigger picture of delivering a new Gambia that we could all be proud of; one that would provide a conducive place where all Gambians can realise their full potentials. His vision is to see a country that is anchored on empowered institutions that would guarantee and protect the rights and dignity of all citizens irrespective of their political, ethno-linguistic and religious differences. It is in the same spirit that he constituted a Constitutional Review Commission, among other transformational and institutional reforms, to recreate a Gambia fit for all.”