By Lamin Cham
Five Banjul City councillors opposed to Mayor Rohey Lowe last week called the press to “expose” the profligacy of the council.
Mayor Lowe recently accused the councillors of peddling false claims, delaying the passing of the council’s budget and holding unnecessary meetings to pocket sitting allowances. She accused the disgruntled councillors of engaging in political bickering.
On Wednesday, BCC chief executive Mustapha Batchilly dismissed allegations on pro-NPP social media platforms accusing the mayor of engaging in gross economic malfeasance.
But Councillor Aziz Dabakh Gaye said the mayor erred in accusing the councillors of seeking sitting allowances when in fact they were scrutinising the council’s expenditures and demanding breakdowns.
“It is important for people to know what we are emphasising and why we are demanding breakdowns of the expenditure. We owe it to Banjulians and the public to properly do our job of scritunising their monies. The mayor is saying we should not do that and arguing over just D1,500 sitting allowance for councillors who are diligently working into scrutinising the tax payers money,” he chastised.
Gaye disclosed that some of the breakdowns they were asking for exposed “some undesirable expenditures” by council that cannot be justified.
“Let us compare an expenditure of D1,500 councillors’ sitting allowance to, for an example, a total of D200,000 spent on tanabeer for various fan clubs. Also, council spent lots of money – D97,000, D100,000 and D50,000 et cetera – on visibility and PR events for the mayor’s Rafela elections in Kisumu, Kenya among other things. What has that got to do with BCC?” Gaye queried.
He also questioned the council’s scholarship programme alleging that some payments were made to individuals and accused the council of not submitting those breakdowns until after they demanded them.
Councillor Gaye vowed that if demanding for the breakdowns of the wasteful spending of taxpayer’s monies means seeking for sitting allowances as claimed by the mayor, then he and his colleague are ready to forgo the allowances but will continue to thoroughly vet the expenditures.
He said even the CEO concurred that this year’s budget session was the most successful because of the diligence applied to it.
Councillor Gaye also defended his earlier statement that the bulk of the D3 million spent on lighting replacement came from the central government’s D2million subvention, for which he said the government deserved good mention.