The country’s Minister of youth and sports, Bakary Badjie, is facing heavy criticism online after a leaked memo from his ministry authorizing payment of per diem to his wife for the recently concluded Commonwealth and Islamic games in the UK and Turkey went viral.
The Youth and Sports Minister earlier confirmed that his wife was denied a UK entry visa and did not attend the Commonwealth games. However, Madame Hawa Badjie still received total per diem payments despite not being under the government payroll.
While his actions angered many Gambians on and offline, some supporters of the sports minister said the Minister didn’t break the law as he acted within his powers.
Minister Badjie admitted the payments were made to his wife in an interview with online news media, Kerr Fatou network.
“If it’s the authentication of the document, yes is true. Yes, it is allowed because it is not done behind the back door. This was done through a normal process,”
“There was an invitation from the Commonwealth Secretariat and the GNOC. Both letters came through Foreign Affairs. GNOC came directly to us, and the invitation is for the Commonwealth Games. So the Minister is accorded what is called ‘accompanying guest,’ Mr. Badjie told Kerr Fatou.
Meanwhile, some Gambians are calling on the Minister to resign amid the allegations of corruption and surrender funds paid to his wife.
Youth leader and opposition UDP youth Secretary General Kemo Bojang urged the Minister to quit.
“The Youth minister must resign for misappropriation of funds,’ he said.
For Raymond Sarr, ‘ Bakary Badjie, the officials who prepared that document and the approving authority are guilty of broad day robbery. There are no rules in our books, and I challenge any civil servant to show me such direction where spouses are paid per Diem for overseas travels.’
“The only section in the General Orders where spouses are mentioned is where the officer is to undergo oversees training for two years or more; the Government shall provide a round ticket for the spouse see section 06 (203). Perdiem is similar to the UN system of Daily Subsistence Allowance and only payable to designated officers for travel. They acted ultra vires, and Badjie must return the money,” Sarr said.
But supporters of Minister Badjie, including Dabakh Malick Jarju, who claimed to have known Minister Badjie for 25 years, countered the allegations against him.
“Focus on the mission and vision, Bakary Badjie. I have known you for over 25 years and have never seen you do anything outside of the law; the minute I saw that memo floating, I knew it could have never been your personal decision to include your spouse on the list of accompanying delegates to the commonwealth games.
The person should have given the names of delegates who got the same invitation as yourself and traveled to the games with their spouses.
They should have also explained that you always felt reluctant to give your spouse’s name until the final week after thorough consultation, and that’s why she couldn’t get a Visa on time for the games,” Dabakh said on his Facebook page.
Journalist Mustapha Darboe, who has been investigating public sector corruption, wrote on his social media handle:
“Bakary Badgie knew his wife was not a public or civil servant. She does not work for the Government or on government duty. So, a state minister would have known such a person is not entitled to benefits that come with being on national duty (per diem).
Some say he made calls to inquire if his wife was entitled to per diems. The question you ask in response to that is this: why didn’t Bakary Badgie call to ask if it was right for him to be paid per diem?
Because Badgie knows it was okay for the Minister to be paid per diem, no matter how questionable the circumstances may be. And he also must have known it was not suitable for a minister’s spouse to be paid per diem.”
Social Commentator and Journalist Hatab Fadera also reacted to the allegations,
“I believe Youth Minister Bakary Badjie was ill-advised on the podium saga. The claim is that he consulted and deemed it appropriate for his accompanying spouse to receive the per diem. That is where the problem seems to lie. The fact of this abnormality shows a deeply-rooted practice within the system. It could best be an opportunity for government officials to make extra money on such missions abroad. This practice cannot continue. Our meager resources must be judiciously utilized.” He wrote.
The Gambia made considerable breakthroughs in track and field events in the recently concluded Commonwealth and Islamic games, with the country winning two gold medals and other silverware for the first time.