Monday, June 17, 2024

Gambia’s First lady Zainab Jammeh – A drain on Scarce National Resources

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Gambian First lady Zainab Zuma Jammeh has always been accused of wasting state monies on private trips fully funded by the Gambian taxpayers. Faturadio can authoritatively reveal details of budgets and numbers of staff that accompany her on private trips, using a private fight which her husband Yaya Jammeh owns but which the state hires and pays for to ferry Zainab on her private trips abroad. The following is a breakdown of the expenses incurred for a 3day private trip to Morocco by the First lady, fully funded by the state. This breakdown covers only the cost of the private plane:

Fuel Bjl/Cas/Bjl: $20,000

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Catering Banjul: $2,000

Handling Casablanca: $5000

Fuel Cas/Bjl/Cas: $30,000

Catering Casablanca: $5000

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Hotel for crew+ transport $5000

Overflihgt + navigation fees $4000

TOTAL: $71,000 (D3,834,000 @$1 = D54)

Many lament the lack of financial control and spending at the Office of the President as a large chunk of the Nations budget is apportioned to the Office of the President to cover such lavish trips and celebrations. Many have seen other first ladies especially of Senegal taking commercial flights and traveling with a small entourage to save state resources. The high cost detailed above, covers just the private plane to carry the fist lady and her entourage. Many say that with the worsening Gambian situation, the National assembly or department of budgets at the Finance Ministry really need to control the out of control spending of the President and his wife. A source even said that “before telling the chief medical officer to go increase consultation fees for patients to raise revenue for the hospital, Fabakary Tombong Jatta should be telling President Jammeh and Zinab Jammeh to use commercial flights to travel and even justify their numerous private trips and lavish celebrations using taxpayer monies”

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Zainab Jammeh is notorious for not just her numerous private trips, her numerous lavish shopping trips, her lack of regard for anything Gambian but also her the huge entourage she travels with even for private trips and all at taxpayer expenses. Many say that Zinab competes with the likes of Michelle Obama, however many will tell you that Michelle shops at “target” and wears “J crew” to promote American brands, while Zinab is hardly seen wearing Gambian brands or shopping in Gambia. “I was expecting that she will wear a Gambian designer to the White House Dinner to promote tourism and Gambian fashion, instead Zinab choose a designer dress more expensive than Michelle Obama, for a first lady from a poor country like Gambia, that speaks volumes” said another observer.

Observers say that the amount spend on a private flights for the first lady, could have been spent on priority areas like the Gambian hospitals and health centers where basic things like gloves and medication are not available prompting the Chief Medical Officer to continuously call on the President to help with medication and equipment for the hospitals. Many observe that with Zinab and her children never using our health services, the President really does not care what state our hospitals are in. “Zainab delivers her children in America, Yaya flies them out even for basic medical care including immunizations, Jammeh himself and his mum fly overseas for medical treatment, yet you expect him or Zinab to care about our health services” said a source. Another priority area that taxpayer monies wasted at the Office of the president could have been spent on is youth employment, skills training and entrepreneurship. Thousands of Gambian youths are dying taking the backway to Europe, the Jammeh government is silent on this human tragedy and not coming up with any policies to address the frustrations that are leading the youth to take the backway to Europe “Jammeh sending immigration officers to Europe to identify and deport Gambian youths is not the solution because they return to face the same economic and social miseries that they left behind, Jammeh really has failed the youths of the Gambia”.

We will be attaching a letter showing the expenses detailed above and another showing the entourage for the first lady on a 3day private visit to Morocco, which includes a manicurist and a hairdresser!! to further highlight the massive drain Zinab is on Gambian taxpayers.




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