It has been two days since the Gambia’s Interior Minister was removed from office, and the government, understandably, has difficulty telling the people why Mai Fatty had to be shown the exit door. “Understandably” because of the extremely embarrassing episode behind the story. But the true narrative has already been making the rounds between and among the Barrow inner circle and government insiders. So it makes sense that the public is given what would be an unofficial but impeccable account of the facts. The story goes as follows:
In the ongoing Simlex-Pristine matter, a decision was made to award both companies the contract to do the biometric national documents on a shared percentage basis. Simlex wanted as much as 75% of the shares which Barrow did not want to endorse at the expense of Pristine, which is a Gambian company.
In the efforts by Simlex to push for the 75% shares, Mai convinced the Belgian company to give him 15 million Dalasis on the pretext of using the money to convince Barrow to accept the Simlex request. In the meantime, Barrow continued his resistance to the Simlex request, without a clue about the back deal between Mai and the company.
After the issue of the contract came up in cabinet last week, Barrow invited Simlex to his office to make government’s position clear to them and insist on a way forward. Apparently, Mai had given Simlex management the impression that he had given the 15 million Dalasi to Barrow, that the President was very appreciative of the offer and was willing to allow them have 75% shares of the contract. When the Simlex management turned up at the President’s Office on Thursday in response to Barrow’s invitation, some cabinet ministers were also around and Barrow had no problem in their being part of the meeting between him and Simlex since the agenda was about an important government matter. During the meeting, the Simlex management was dumbfounded after the President made it clear that government will not give the company 75% of contract shares. With surprise and consternation, the Simlex manager started recalling the feedback Mai had been giving them about the President’s agreement to their request. He went further to disclose the amount Mai collected from them in the name of the President.
According to eye witnesses, Barrow was visibly shocked and speechless when the Simlex manager came up with such claims in the presence of other ministers. Ultimately, the President decided the first step of damage control was to relieve Mai of his cabinet responsibility before deciding on the next move.