By Saul Saidykhan
About three years ago, we were treated to some sensational images from Dakar, Senegal of an adult Gambian male in blue jeans, white shirt, and dark blazer spread-eagled and dangling barely off the marbled floor as he was being carried by several security men protecting young Sedia Bayo, the self- proclaimed head of the National Transitional Government of The Gambia apparently inside the lobby of a swanky hotel. In the pictures, he seems to be crying and screaming in a distressed mode. There were controversial reports at the time about what the man was screaming as he was being carried away. Regardless, one NEED NOT hear what he was saying to read the panic the camera captured on his face. If not for his size and age, one might be forgiven for mistaking the ruckus for the recalcitrance of a petulant teenage brat throwing a fit and disturbing public peace. This Dakar incident is particularly remarkable for two reasons: 1. Such treatments are often meted out to bums and the down-trodden and 2. The rapidity with which the man melt down into panic mode suggests to me someone whose conscience is probably weighed down by what he knows is happening in our country despite his pretense. Which brings us to his identity. When one takes a close look at the face of the figure in the picture, it becomes obvious that the man crying and screaming in panic in the pictures from Dakar is none other than Mr. Amadou Samba, a very wealthy man by any standards who is nearly sixty years old if not already. (He has cleverly blocked search engines including Wikipedia from revealing his personal details. Even his own BlogSpot About ME section provides no useful bio info on him.) Anyhow, despite Amadou’s pretense, or despite it, HE is the one Gambian who knows more about Yaya Jammeh’s business dealings than any other Gambian citizen. Or so we thought.
Dr. Amadou Scattred Janneh who had a front row seat to the Dakar spectacle became Amadou Samba’s scape goat for triggering the scandal that led to his humiliation in Dakar. But Dr. Janneh’s version and common sense tells us something different was probably at play in Mr. Samba’s mind in Dakar. Let’s quickly review the basic facts of the story as we now know them. The location of the incident is a four star hotel with 24-hour human and electronic security. Now, one must ask what could possibly cause a grown man like Amadou Samba – close confidante to a Head-of-State of a neighboring country, to go off the cliff so quickly INSIDE such a hotel where he had stayed at before just because he was approached by some body guards inside an elevator wanting to know why he seems to be shadowing another guest. These men by the way spoke to Amadou Samba in his native Wolof! Regardless, within minutes, Samba was weeping like a terrified little child, and allegedly loudly proclaiming that he has nothing to do with “what’s going on there” (Gambia)or something to that effect. Exactly what was Amadou Samba alluding to when he bleated out in his panic that HE didn’t have anything to do with what’s going on in the Gambia? So Amadou Samba knew even back then that something wrong was going on in The Gambia. But then, like I say, it’s always much easier to fool others.
In the last seven weeks after the Gambian elections, Amadou Samba has been a very busy man. He has publicly called on his erstwhile benefactor Yaya Jammeh to respect the will of the Gambian people, and with the help of some friendly scribes has embarked on an image re-hash. The only problem is, Amadou Samba is going about his new PR campaign the wrong way: 1.) he has been pushing his luck by insulting our collective intelligence by stating things that are clearly untrue. 2. He’s been threatening some Gambian citizens and media for publishing their opinions about his over two-decades old association with Yaya Jammeh.
Since the election, Sidi Sanneh, the former Jammeh-Insider turned-blogger wrote two posts about Amadou Samba. Forgive me for being cynical, but I’d like to point out a truism about the postings: I’ve found the postings to be more revealing of Mr. Sanneh’s own mindset than anything he wrote about Amadou Samba’s murky business dealings or relationship with the brutal autocrat who has made our country unlivable for so many of us. The reason is simple. Mr. Sanneh’s posts are peppered with patronizing platitudes about forging a common front against Jammeh and forgetting the past when we are YET to exit the past! Even as I write this, there are many Gambians that went missing during the height of the Jammeh madness who are still unaccounted for. What is even more perplexing being Mr. Sanneh left unchallenged comments Amadou Samba made to him that are clearly preposterous. Amadou Samba claims he is Yaya Jammeh’s personal Manager – not Business Manager, because Jammeh is “erratic” and Sidi Sanneh believes that bull crap? What is Amadou Samba? A psychologist, psychiatrist, Image- Maker, Lobbyist, PR-Specialist? What qualifies him for that role? Does this man take all Gambians for idiots? Sidi Sanneh did not ask any of these simple questions.
And it gets worse. On the Panama Papers allegations. Amadou Samba said -according to Sidi Sanneh, he is the owner of ALL the three (3) companies listed that own an estimated 900 million US dollars in the tax shelter. Amadou disputes the 900 million dollars figure. Yet Uncle Sidi Sanneh once again failed to ask a basic question: what is the correct amount you saved? Is it 500 million dollars then; how about 600, 700, 800? Whether the man answers truthfully or not is his choice, but it’s useful to have this on record.
Here are some other things on record about Amadou Samba despite his claims that he was a businessman for thirty-five years (35) who had nothing to do with the madness of the Jammeh system. For years, Amadou Samba was the Chairman of the Judicial Services Commission. This is the body that is responsible for hiring ALL these despicable mercenary judges that Yaya Jammeh has been using to “legally” terrorize Gambians for much of his rule. Practicing lawyers will tell you of instances where West African hustlers are hired off the streets in Banjul only to be used by the government to go after its enemies – real or imagined. Many of us in the diaspora have been complaining about these judges for years. Amadou Samba had a DIRECT hand in their recruitment because he signed off on their recommendation! Those busy White-Washing Amadou Samba’s history should think about ALL the innocent Gambians that were sent to jail by these corrupt judges and how they were hired over the past decade plus.
Second, Amadou Samba is also Chairman of the Social Security and Housing Finance Corporation SSHFC. The SSHFC is a social Safety Net program. This is a Contributory Benefit Pension Scheme where government/ employer gets to withhold a small portion of employees pay that is matched by the employer and manage it as a fiduciary duty until they retire at which point they start to draw monthly sums till death. Now anyone who has a retired parent or grandparent in the past ten to fifteen years will tell you how utterly broken the system has become- and not just because of the impact of inflation on the Dalasi. Like other revenue sources of government, the SSHFC had become a source for slush funds for Yaya Jammeh. Anyone need an indicator of how misplaced their priorities are? Other than the main arteries in Banjul, the streets are impassable during the rainy season, yet the SSHFC invested millions of Dalasi to build a housing estate in a no-where village called Kaninlai.
These two positions are NOT posts that any ordinary business person will accept. So, who is fooling who?
Notice I haven’t even mentioned a word about the countless Duty Waivers Yaya Jammeh must have granted his erstwhile bosom buddy over the twenty plus years’ period and what the cost of these are to the economy, or the MONOPOLY rights for the import of several commodities. Any good 10th Grade student of Economics can tell one the negative impact these had on the Gambian people and economy in the last two decades.
I get the big picture. I’m all for reconciliation and moving on. But please let’s keep the real victims of Yaya Jammeh’s madness in mind here. It’s the Gambian people. So, let’s stop the nonsense of trying to be smart by half. I’ve heard from none lawyers like myself zinging legalese on the subject. But I recall something my Business Law professor, a former US Federal Prosecutor used to say: lack of evidence isn’t the same thing as evidence of innocence! Poor Gambians may not know how Amadou Samba came up with the hundreds of millions he stashed in Panama, but he does. Karma has caught up with his friend Yaya Jammeh, his turn will come if he refuses to do right. The truth has started to roll out and this will only accelerate.
So Amadou, if you truly love your country, do the honorable thing by returning some of the money you and Yaya Jammeh looted from her. You don’t owe Yaya Jammeh anything but you owe Gambians. He is a degenerate and unrepentant crook. You know how expensive, cumbersome and labyrinthine and time-consuming the legal process could be. Why make your country take legal action against you? Why subject a poor and desperately broke country like ours to such ordeal? You know the amount of money in the accounts and you know the source of the money. More importantly, you know what your tax obligations are. Do the honorable and patriotic thing instead of hiding behind some of these ridiculous charlatans running all over the place lobbying for you. The worst mistake the Barrow administration will make is to assume they have a Blank Check from some of us by cuddling those that were part of either the Jammeh terror or corrupt business network.
Another key point for Amadou and like-minded is: even if you become the richest people on the planet, you’ll NEVER be able to buy some of us simply because we’re NOT for sale! It’s in your best interest to remember this.
A few corrections on Part 1.
Omar Fye was initially appointed to the cabinet before being fired and later appointed to a diplomatic position in Mauritania.
The name of the Guinea-Bissau naval Commander is Bubo Na Tchuto not Bobo Nacho. For some reason, the pronunciation and spelling of Portuguese names throw me off.
The sentence “Almost without exception, the Generals surrounding Yaya Jammeh have attended a reputable military academy anywhere” should read Almost without exception, NONE OF the Generals surrounding Yaya Jammeh have attended a reputable military academy anywhere.
Sorry for the oversight.