Gambians are crying over the mismanagement of over US$1 billion from their state coffers by its former President Yahya Jammeh but what many do not know is that Jammeh’s net worth is equivalent to the country’s $1.9 billion debt left them with,
In 2006, Gambia’s debt was forgiven before Jammeh intensified his covert stealing of public funds for personal use.
Jammeh came to power in 1994 and on average embezzled more than $200 million (D8.9 billion) a year, financial records show.
Jammeh came to power with less than $5 in his personal bank account and in the last two weeks of his ruled, he took more money from the treasury and fled to Equatorial Guinea with $12 million.
But that is peanuts compared to Jammeh’s $1.9 billion net worth.
The former self-serving ruler owns mansions in the United States, France, Eastern Europe, Morocco, Guinea and the Middle East. He also owns businesses in Morocco, Kuwait, Dubai and Qatar.
He was also a drug kingpin and his ouster means the flow of drugs through West Africa will suffer a setback.
Half of the two tons of cocaine seized in the West African nation was sold, according to Benjamin Jammeh, former anti-narcotics director and uncle to Jammeh.
Jammeh ran the country like a mafia group. His name and his private jet were linked to the illegal arms trade of Viktor Bout and the blood diamonds of Sierra Leone and Liberia. His most trusted right hand man, Baba K. Jobe was sanctioned by the UN Security Council as a result.
But Jammeh got most of his wealth, looting Gambians.
Gambians are now wondering how they will recover from this and pay off their debts.
The ultimate answer lies is asset recovery and having Jammeh’s businesses, bank accounts, homes all annexed to the Gambia. The international community should forgive the country’s debt and the government should invest in citizens if assets are recovered.
Since Jammeh is richer than the Gambia and has exactly what we owe in debt, it is only right that we go recover our stolen national wealth.