Gambia’s exiled dictator Yahya Jammeh spent $17,000 (D663,000 dalasis) to buy first class air tickets for a Jamaican dancehall singer and his band to entertain him in his heavily fortified presidential palace.
The musician, Frankie Paul made The Gambia a second home just four years after Jammeh took power in a coup in the small West African state.
Jammeh loved reggae music and Paul’s music is an all time favorite for many in the country. He left Gambia with tens of thousands of dollars during his last meeting with Jammeh.
He had been suffering from kidney problems and was on dialysis two days per week. He died in May, just four months after Jammeh’s ouster at the University Hospital of West Indies in Kingston, Jamaica.
Jammeh was swindling millions from the Gambian taxpayers and the money used to transport Paul and his band to the country were taken from secret state funds stashed in commercial banks.
Although Frankie Paul left the Gambia with huge sums of money, it was not enough to cover his $1.5 million hospital bills. His president friend, Yahya Jammeh was heading to the polls and with Gambia’s development partners withholding funds, Jammeh was getting cash strapped.
According to former Director of Gambia National Petroleum Corporation, Momodou Badjie, Jammeh took money from the state company to fund Paul and his band’s trip.
Born blind, he has been dubbed by some as ‘The Jamaican Stevie Wonder.’ Frankie’s last days were difficult moments after crowd funding sources were banked upon to help clear his medical bills.