Like thousands of supporters of our Gallant Scorpions, I was equally disappointed that the huge amount of energy I reserved purposely for the grand welcoming of the Buntalolu had to be wasted just like that. This is even not up to an inch of the disappointment that the Scorpions themselves must have felt to realise that after their amazing performance they will not receive the heroes’ welcome they expected. The Scorpions is a national institution that was on a national mission. Hence when mishaps like this happened, there is need to find out why things did not go according to plan.
Nothing happens in a vacuum. For every occurrence, good or bad we need to find out what, why and how it occurred in order to identify errors and learn lessons to improve. I have listened carefully to the Hon. Minster Bakary Badgie’s explanation and indeed I find it reasonable, generally. From his narrative, it appears to me that this was what his lieutenants fed him. I think the Minister needs to be commended for keeping his hands off from the operational matters and let the GFF and the NCC handle the mission.
But I wish to urge the Minister to launch an investigation into this matter so that the public will know in full the proper details. Furthermore, an investigation will give us the opportunity to understand why certain decisions were made and if there were better alternatives and why those were not pursued. The investigation will also enable the Government to understand if indeed the whole project was managed on the basis of value for money.
For example, I am interested to know why GFF/NCC will hire and pay a company 100% upfront to fly the Boys to and from AFCON when the full service was not delivered yet. In modern management, it is strange to pay upfront in full for goods or services when the full package is yet to be delivered. I am neither a procurement expert nor an accountant, but I suppose it is basic rules that services are paid in instalments. Therefore, why did the GFF/NCC decide to pay 100% upfront?
Secondly, which travel company did the GFF engage? The fact that this company would fail to turn up at the appointed time, and then give false excuses only to fail to airlift the Boys leaves much to be desired about this company. Did the GFF/NCC do due diligence to ascertain if this company is indeed a trustworthy company? Were there alternatives? The fact is that it is utterly embarrassing and unheard of, at least to me to have a national team stranded at a tournament because of failure of a company hired to carry them home. To me, this company is untrustworthy, unprofessional and dishonest. How come were they hired?
In fact, why would a Cameroonian company be engaged and not a Gambian company? I am sure, there are companies in the Gambia that have the capacity to provide this kind of air travel services. I saw one press release from one such company, which calls itself ‘The Bantaba Group’ (TBG) lamenting the fact that they were capable and prepared to provide such service but apparently did not get the attention of GFF. Why not?
Finally, where is the contact with this company? The public has a right to know and see this contract. What steps are both the Ministry and GFF/NCC taking to recover the money? I heard in the Minister’s comments that former judge Emmanuel Nkea will be helping in this regard. But why Nkea? The Ministry and GFF should have its own lawyers to handle such a matter. The fact that Nkea is Cameroonian cannot be the consideration to therefore give him such official function. Or is there a contract with Nkea? What if Nkea fails to deliver or even connives with his compatriots?
In light of the above, I wish to highly recommend to the Minister of Youth ad Sports Bakary Badgie to launch an investigation on this issue. He can even open the investigation wider to also look into the issues of bonuses and the overall experience of the Scorpions in Cameroon. We have seen some Scorpion players complaining about unpaid bonuses. Are they telling the truth or not? We need to find out.
Finally, I wish to recommend to the Minister and GFF that, we the fans of Scorpions deserve to celebrate their achievement. Since we did not have a street parade to welcome them, and indeed half of them are already back to their clubs, but we deserve some kind of celebration. So, let them think of how can Gambians celebrate our sterling participation in our first and only AFCON. We are listening!
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