In what has over the years become the singsong of incoming African leaders, President Adama Barrow, barely hours after assuming office, says his predecessor- Yahya Jammeh, who ruled The Gambia for 22 years as a dictator before going on exile over the weekend, plundered state coffers, with over $11 million missing in just two weeks.
According to Mai Ahmad Fatty, an adviser to President Adama Barrow, for “over two weeks, over 500m dalasi ($11 million) were withdrawn” by Jammeh.
“As we take over, the government of The Gambia is in financial distress,” he lamented, noting that financial experts were still trying to evaluate the exact loss, amidst report that luxury cars and other items were loaded on to a Chadian cargo plane as Jammeh left the country.
Fatty said officials at The Gambia’s main airport had been told not to let any of the exiled ex-President’s belongings leave the country, with report that some of the former leader’s goods were in Guinea where he had stopped on his journey into exile.
He told reporters in the Senegalese capital Dakar that The Gambia was in financial distress, with “the coffers… virtually empty. It has been confirmed by technicians in the ministry of finance and the Central Bank of the Gambia.”
While President Barrow remains in neighbouring Senegal where he was sworn in on, on schedule at The Gambian embassy in Dakar, January 19, it is not clear when he will return. But ahead of his eventual arrival, troops of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) entered the Gambian capital, Banjul, on Sunday, possibly to forestall any unexpected.
According to the BBC, the Senegalese general leading the joint force from five African nations said they were controlling “strategic points to ensure the safety of the population and facilitate… Mr Barrow’s assumption of his role.”
Aljazeera however quoted Fatty as also saying the president is eager to return to The Gambia “as soon as possible”, warning, however, that “the state of security in The Gambia is still fragile.”