Days after the inauguration of the new Gambian President Adama Barrow, exiled Gambian leader Yahya Jammeh left the country with a $1 billion debt thanks to his corrupt dealings and extravagant lifestyle.
Barrow’s administration says Jammeh, who emptied the state coffers days before fleeing to Equatorial Guinea, stole more money than it was originally thought, reports the Guardian.
On Thursday, two cabinet ministers in the new government revealed that the exiled former president siphoned off at least $50 million from the country’s social security, ports, and national telecoms company.
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“This is grave. The economy is in severe distress. During the impasse, I made mention of $5 million, but that is just a drop in the ocean compared to what the ministry of finance revealed,” Gambian Interior Minister Mai Fatty said.
“This is a reflection of the gross mismanagement of our economy by Yahya Jammeh and his APRC government. Their conduct amounts to total betrayal of the Gambian people leaving behind them a monstrous debt of 48.3bn dalasis [$1bn].”
According to Barrow’s administration, Jammeh’s private jet was bought with $4.5 million, which was unlawfully acquired from the state pension fund.
The jet was bought at a time when Gambian pensioners were either being denied their pensions or given less than what they were entitled to — despite having worked in the public sector all their lives.
“We will never forgive Jammeh for taking our money. We worked hard for this country, built roads, and spent days and nights in the bushes,” an 80-year-old Gambian pensioner, Momodou Bajo, said.
Jammeh also owned a fleet of expensive vehicles, which he fled with to Equatorial Guinea in January.
He has often been accused of aggressively using executive orders to steal money from state entities and using his close allies and top government officials to implement the executive directives.
Fatty says the government is currently relying on donors to pay salaries and has vowed to pursue former President Jammeh to ensure he returns the money he stole from the Gambian public.
The Gambia is ranked among the poorest countries in Africa, with a majority of its population relying on crops and livestock for livelihood.