The former secretary general and head of Civil Service in The Gambia, Momodou Sabally, has described former President Yahya Jammeh as perhaps the most flamboyant president.
Mr. Sabally, who was one time a Presidential Affairs minister in Jammeh's government was speaking in an exclusive interview after a public discussion at the Public Release of Gambia Afrobarometer Round 7 Findings on Gambians' Perception on Trust in institutions last Friday where he served as a panelist, said corruption has been a menace in the country since the inception of independence.
He said Jammeh's reason for toppling Jawara in 1994 was because of corrupt practices and he became worse in embracing the act he condemned of the first president and his cabinet ministers for.
"Jammeh was very flamboyant, I mean he used to enjoy himself with lots of expensive cars; you know all these parties he was doing, it was said within a context like we are talking about corruption and I was saying corruption has been here for 52 years."
"The case in point when Jammeh came in to uproot the Jawara regime, his excuse was there was rampant corruption and flamboyant lifestyle. But there was corruption in Jammeh's government and this is the truth and Jammeh was even more flamboyant than Jawara. So we have a systematic issue here that is why when I talk about some of these issues, I want to talk about it in an independent, fair and pragmatic way."
"We need to know this is a serious problem that has been here for long. So it needs a very serious, sustained and persistent approach."
Asked if he had done anything about corruption during his tenure as SG, Sabally said fighting corruption was in fact part of the reasons why he was kicked out.
"I did, and part of this is the reason why they kicked me out because I advised Jammeh about two particularly contracts he was giving out and I knew those who were interested."
Asked what those contracts were he said: "The MGI contract that ended up in the International Gateway. I advised Jammeh against it; I was kicked out; MGI continued and you know what they did; and there was another Italian group that came with projects to construct landed sites for ferries. I advised against payment in that also because he was not happy and those were the vested interest who fought against me to kick me out."
Sabally said he had a close working relationship with the former president and he earned his utmost respect.
He was later fired by Jammeh and was charged with numerous counts including abuse of office. Jammeh eventually pardoned Sabally in 2015 and he was acquitted on all charges.