By Dr. Omar Janneh
In my view, President Barrow does not need a foundation and or a movement, and to have both must cause unacceptable and unnecessary flow of distractions. President Barrow already has a foundation which I will call “Building a Just and Prosperous Gambia Foundation”. This is the foundation we elected him to work on, so he should have no time and no business setting up another foundation/movement or encourage anyone to set up any foundation or movement in his name while in office.
Some questions for the Barrow Youth Movement and Foundation:
a) What are the sources of income for the Barrow Youth Movement and Foundation – how does it raise funds to support its activities?
b) What is the president getting out of the Barrow Youth Movement and Foundation and could there be a case for conflict of interest?
c) Who are the signatories to the Barrow Youth Movement and Foundation’s account?
d) Who is the Youth Movement and Foundation’s accountant/treasurer and who are the trustees?
e) Who have been the beneficiaries of the Barrow Youth Movement and Foundation’s work?
f) If the country’s Financial Intelligence Unit is not dead, can it report on any of the financial transactions of the Barrow Youth Movement and Foundation?
If the president’s wife, Madam Fatoumatta Bah-Barrow wishes to set up a foundation, I think it is important and proper that she is knowledgeable about setting up foundations and that she must ensure that she has people working on the foundation who are knowledgeable, for example, on how to manage a foundation, and how to legally raise funds to support the foundation’s work.
It seems that the public deserves a better explanation of how and why Madam Fatoumatta Bah-Barrow Foundation (FaBB) accepted the reported $752,594.42 (D36,123,000) into the foundation’s UK Guaranty Trust Bank account in 2017 from TBEA Co. Ltd (Chinese Company that is reported to manufacture power transformers and develop transmission projects) and the subsequent mysterious bank transactions from the foundation’s Guaranty Trust Bank (UK) Limited London Bank account into a Portuguese bank account, Novo Banco to supposedly charter a flight to China using White Airways (Portuguese Charter Airline in Porto Salvo). It should be a concern that these seemingly dodgy financial transactions are linked to the president’s household. Could Madam Bah-Barrow and her husband be abusing the office they occupy? For us to be told by the FaBB Foundation’s vice chairperson, Fatou Ceesay, that such questionable money transfer(s) would be investigated by the Foundation’s Board of Directors (insiders) will be an exercise drenched in futility. I suppose they want to use the “expertise” in-house to investigate self. Hopefully the gullibility genes will be in full swing when the foundation’s board of directors report their findings and they will be believed.
We need to know the truth about the financial transactions of the FaBB Foundation. It is very doubtful that the foundation’s board of directors will answer the following questions, but they are listed below:
a) We probably know one source of income for the FaBB Foundation, but could the foundation’s board of directors tell us the foundation’s other sources of income?
b) Who is the foundation’s accountant/treasurer and who are the trustees of the foundation?
c) What does Madam Fatoumatta Bah-Barrow gain from her foundation?
d) Who are the signatories to the FaBB Foundation’s account?
e) What do/did ordinary Gambians gain from any of the (legal) activities of the FaBB?
f) How much does the president know about the (seemingly) dodgy bank transactions of the FaBB Foundation?
g) Could the Financial Intelligence Unit shed any light can on the reported financial transactions of the FaBB Foundation?
h) Why should we trust the findings of conflicted individuals in the FaBB Foundation investigating alleged wrongdoing of the foundation they work for?
i) With the president and Madam Fatoumatta Bah-Barrow both having foundations, could there be any duplication of effort, and if so, what effort – to enrich themselves; empower a few of us or both?
You probably recall the donation of some money by “anonymous” donors through the government of Saudi Arabia to Gambian pilgrims this year. Without getting into the logistics of how “anonymous” individuals make donations to their government for onward payment to another government’s pilgrims, how and why would a government that claims that it shall deliver good governance by being accountable expose itself to such dodgy transactions? What does this say about our government? The relevance of mentioning this here is that this government does not seem to have the knack for judging and avoiding (strategic) weaknesses; they seem clueless on what resources to take or not to take which may be a good fuel for mistrust.
I think it is plausible that the Barrow household could be funding, in part, their supposed foundations using some of the donations from such “anonymous” donors, for favours which may not be in the national interest. Further, the Barrow Youth Movement and Foundation and the FaBB Foundation may also lend themselves very well to pilfering from the public purse. To avoid a national embarrassment, the Barrow Youth Movement and Foundation and the FaBB Foundation must be shut down immediately and parliament must not allow any such movement or foundation to be set up by them or by anyone in their name. Given what we know already – from the previous and current governments, the CRC may need to consider whether a serving president or anyone in the president’s household needs a foundation/movement. We urge the commissioners on the CRC to consider their legacy and do the right thing for The Gambia.