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Sunday, November 29, 2020

GFF rejects “malicious allegations”

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By Lamin Cham

The Gambia Football Federation GFF has responded to a catalogue of allegations and criticisms leveled against them by opposition football stakeholders on September 17 at press conference held at Jokor Gardens at Westfield.The Gambia Football Federation GFF has responded to a catalogue of allegations and criticisms leveled against them by opposition football stakeholders on September 17 at press conference held at Jokor Gardens at Westfield.

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The stakeholders going under he Bring Back Our Football slogan accused the GFF of wasting resources on frequent overseas traveling, increasing per diems and favoring friends and loyalists with jobs among a host of other things But while the stakeholders made a public denouncement of the GFF, Football House instead choose to reply to the criticisms to the football clubs and stakeholders first. They also called press conference for Friday to mad either response public.

However The Standard has managed to lay hands on a copy of the reply containing volumes of papers and attachments. Because of the huge about of typing involved in reproducing it, we start by serialising it beginning with Football House’s response to allegations of unjustifiable foreign trips among others. Football House described the attitude of the opposition stakeholders especially their famous mantra of ‘Do Me, I DO YOU’ you as a clear case of infighting without proper cause  Read on.Unjustifiable Foreign TripsThe GFF prides itself that current President is the least traveled president with the national teams. Records are there to prove that Mr. Bajo during the past three years traveled with the Senior National Team only once and that is the trip to Durban, South Africa. Mr. Bajo voluntarily excused himself from joining the Uganda leg of the said trip, in consideration of costs.

The second time Mr. Bajo watched a national team play overseas was when he flew from Rabat (Morocco) to Dakar (Senegal) to watch the Gambia CHAN Team play their Senegalese counterparts in the 2017 qualifiers. In this case, Mr. Bajo used the air ticket which the Moroccan Football Federation bought for him to travel to Morocco to sign the Bilateral Cooperation Agreement between the GFF and the Federation Royal Marocaine de Football (FRMF), thus at no cost to the GFF. The Senegalese Football Federation provided accommodation to Mr. Bajo during his sojourn in Dakar.The amount of D200, 000.00 raised in the allegation includes the cost of a return air ticket to South Africa and per diem allowances for Mr. Bajo. It is worth noting that the bulk of the funds were spent on the air ticket. Everyone who is conversant with international travels would certainly appreciate the high cost of air tickets in Africa.Increase in Per Diem AllowancesThe decision of the Executive Committee to increase the Per Diem Allowances was discussed and endorsed at a GFF Annual General Assembly. This includes but not limited to the GFF President, thus:

 

 

This increase was done in comparison with the rates of the government, private sector and parastatals. The GFF opted to peg its rates below the Government rates as stated in Section C (Page 20) of the GFF Financial Manual.On the issue of Impress, the GFF General Secretary and Finance Director would bear witness that the GFF President hardly travel with impress, and if happens it is requested for by the officer accompanying him, who handles the impress and retire it upon return. The President himself traveled with an impress only on two occasions during the past three years and they were properly retired. By the way, there is no fix rate for impress; it is determined by the duration and nature of the trip.

Unjustifiable use of FundsThe amount of D2, 000,000.00 alleged to have been spent on the GFF President as allowances is furthest from the truth and that all payments made for the President’s official trips were in accordance with GFF Financial Regulations, and there was no wrong doing. By the way, it is the General Assembly which has the mandate to determine whether the usage of funds were justified or otherwise.  The current GFF ExCo’s decision to increase the Sitting Allowances was debated at the 2015 GFF Annual General Assembly and endorsed by the meeting, with a decision that the ExCo meet once every Quarter instead of Monthly as provided by the GFF Constitution. This decision is being implemented.

Cost of Maintenance of GFF President’s official VehicleThe allegation that a staggering amount of D600, 000.00 was spent on the maintenance of the GFF President’s vehicle from 2015 to date is another big fabricated lie. The actual amount spent on the entire GFF Fleet of Motor Vehicles and Motor Cycles is D389, 646.00. This figure is clearly highlighted in section 15.3 (Maintenance & Repairs) of the Audited Financial Statements of the GFF. The actual amount spent on the entire GFF Fleet of Motor Vehicles and Motor Cycles in 2016 is D153, 720.00. This figure is clearly highlighted in section 15.4 (Maintenance & Repairs) of the Audited Financial Statements of the GFF.The actual amount spent on the entire GFF Fleet of Motor Vehicles and Motor Cycles as at 30th September 2017 is D177, 457.00.FIFA Performance Programme Financial Support – Solar SystemThe said project was awarded by an ExCo decision and it was implemented successfully. The allegation that it was Mr. Bakary K. Jammeh who single handedly awarded the contract is not correct and malicious. It should be clear that Mr. Jammeh like any other ExCo member acts with the mandate of the ExCo.

After the installation of the Solar system, the contractor detected a major defect with the wiring system of the GFF Headquarters (Football House). This problem is known to everyone who works in the building. It was this reason that when the solar power is put on, like the normal supply from NAWEC, electricity in some parts of the building go off. There were several instances when some computers and other gadgets got damaged by sudden rise in voltage; this issue has been handed over to different electricians to resolve to no avail. In addition to the above, some officials either deliberately or mistakenly put on the air conditioners when the solar is running, which leads to the tripping off of power due to the fact that the system was not meant to carry the load of air conditioners.An electrician was tasked to give a detailed proposal for the rewiring of the whole building to remedy the situation once and for all, but due to budgetary reasons, the project could not take off.The contractor of the solar project recently claimed that it was the GFF General Secretary who instructed them to completely disconnect the solar system, hence it’s non-functioning in the past months.

This is no longer the case as it has been put back to work and it is working normally, except when air conditioners are put on. Mr. Bakary K. Jammeh as GFF Project ManagerUpon the request from FIFA that a Contact Person/Focal Point be appointed for the preparations of the GFF/FIFA projects, the ExCo identified Mr. Jammeh to that position. Mr. Jammeh after a big pressure from his colleagues succumbed to the request despite the other bigger responsibilities he is carrying at other businesses and institutions.When the projects were conceived, planned and approved, the need for a Project Manager also arose, and there was unanimity within the ExCo that Mr. Jammeh having done a fantastic job as the Contact Person/Focal Point which earned him the respect of GFF and FIFA officials to be appointed to this new role.

Again, it was after a lengthy debate that he finally agreed to the proposal.The competence and efficiency of Mr. Jammeh to carry out the said roles, which are ENTIRELY VOLUNTARY can be corroborated by the FIFA officials and consultants who worked with him, and also the immediate witnesses are members of the GFF Senior Management Team with whom he work very closely daily.It is worth mentioning that thanks to Mr. Jammeh that the GFF was able revise her Financial Regulations, and produced a standard Human Resource Manual at a very minimal cost to the GFF, considering how much it will cost to hire a consultant to produce these two documents. He voluntarily led the Senior Management Team of the GFF in the process without claiming a Dime for his services. Same thing applies to the production of the Business Plan and Project document for the Refurbishment and Equipping of the GFF Football Hotel which would have cost the GFF nothing less than $50,000.00. Again he offered his services, time and in some cases his personal resources in the process free of charge.

What is indisputable despite some personal hatred, envy and grudge against Mr. Jammeh is that he is a very brilliant, very qualified, competent, honest and straightforward gentleman who has zero tolerance for inefficiency and laziness. Mr. Lamin Kaba Bajo absent from Football since the early 90sThis yet another very dishonest statement. Mr. Bajo does not deny that he once in the past had a brawl with a referee during a local football match (commonly called Nawettan). As a human being, everyone at one time or the other had made mistakes in his/her life. Mr. Bajo is no exception in this regard. And what is the fuss about that now, when Mr. Bajo after that incident rendered several invaluable services to the nation, especially football.

The notion that Mr. Bajo was absent from the pavilions for nearly 25 years until when he decided to contest the position GFF President in 2014 is another blatant lie, based on malice and dishonesty. Did the authors and presenter of the document forget that Mr. Bajo has served as Minister of Youth and Sports well after that incident and he presided over the country’s hosting of the then Zone II Amilca Cabral Football Tournament in 1997. He has never ceased to support and fund football teams and activities up to date. The living witnesses and beneficiaries to this fact are all over, especially Brikama where he hailed from. It may interest to note that the said football club, New Town Youths FC is well and alive, now with the third generation of players.

And Mr. Bajo is still the club’s main benefactor/sponsor.As Commissioner of Western Division in 1994/95, Mr. Bajo initiated and sponsored the first ever Brikama Town Inter-Kabilo (Inter-Ward) Tournament, has watched so many football matches across the division. In the various ministerial positions he held, Mr. Bajo has presided over many football matches and activities across the country. The rest is for the general public to judge.When Mr. Bajo was contesting the position of GFF president in 2014, he was no longer in the government after his contract appointment as ambassador in Morocco was terminated by the then president of the Republic. Thus he vied for the position in his personal capacity. The claim that the then Minister of the Interior and others have openly sold Mr. Bajo as a government candidate is totally wrong as malicious.

The then Minister as a citizen of the nation has the right to express his support for anyone, like the Chairman of the National Sports Council (NSC) at the time, Mr. Lamin King Colley one of the authors of these allegations, who openly supported and campaigned for Mr. Bajo. And he continued to identify himself with Mr. Bajo and his executive up to November 2016 when he failed to secure their support in his bid for the presidency of the Gambia National Olympic Committee. It was when he started his sustained smear campaign against them.

During this period and as chair of the NSC he traveled with the senior national to Uganda and South Africa and later with the U20 Male team to Guinea. In the latter, his air ticket and allowances were paid by the GFF after intensive lobbying. Farming activities at the Former President’s Farms in KanilaiWhether the GFF or not, who has not been to Kanilai? The total amount spent on the two trips GFF made to show solidarity with the former president at his farms was D63, 750.00.00The motivation of the decision of the ExCo was simple. The former President was a football supporter, whose financial and material support are here for all to see.

The historic cash donations he made to successive national teams including officials, donation of vehicles to the federation, allocation of Plot of Land to players, and moreover as the Chief Patron of the GFF amongst others. The GFF ExCo was expecting to receive another donation in this respect vehicle(s) to ease the transportation constraints of the federation, though that expectation was dashed as the president then never welcomed Mr. Bajo’s executive for obvious reasons. This is clearly manifested when he refused to meet or receive them in audience during his term of office.

We have seen the ExCos he has wined and dined with in the past.Job for the BoysThe current GFF Organ-gram was approved by FIFA during the erstwhile FIFA Performance Programme, thus the allegation that the positions of a Human Resource Manager and Procurement Officer were nonexistent in the GFF is either motivated by sheer ignorance or dishonesty. The introduction of these two positions are very well in line with standard cooperate management.

Just imagine in the absence of a procurement officer, the paying officers procure and pay. Where is the efficiency in the management of funds?The two gentlemen mentioned in the allegation, Mr. Baboucarr Camara and Mr. Ousman Drammeh were properly appointed and they are very competent in their respective positions and  delivering to the satisfaction of the ExCo. Whether they were supporting the ExCo or not, is immaterial as they have all rights to belong to any camp of their choice. If the ExCo can retain and cohabit with officials who are ever politically opposed to it for the past 3 years what is wrong with hiring those who support it and have the capacity to man their respective positions?

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