Yahya Jammeh, a former African strongman accused of swindling billions during his 22-year rule of a tiny West African nation supposedly spent millions to have his country host the Miss Black USA pageant.
It is has been unearthed that he spent at least $305,000 (D12.2 million dalasis) just to transport contestants and the organizers from 50 U.S. states and its Federal District of Columbia to The Gambia.
It was the first time in 2007 for the event, which attracts contestants from US universities and community colleges to held in Africa in what Jammeh says is his effort to help African-Americans to “connect with their ancestors.”
It is estimated more than $5 million was spent on the trip by Jammeh factoring in the pageant venue, food, stay in the five-star Kairaba Hotel and the many cash and expensive gifts and luxury he lavished them with.
A Commission of Inquiry has been setup to investigate Jammeh’s spending. Jammeh was defeated in elections last year and was forced to flee into exile. He emptied the coffers of his country to Equatorial Guinea.
The Commission is now trying to establish the exact amount the former brutal, bizarre and enigmatic leader spent on hosting the American beauties.
The Miss Black USA Organization is in Maryland, a small state where Jammeh also had a $3.5 million mansion in its affluent suburb of Potomac.
According to its website, the organization empowers women to own their power and celebrates their unique talents, traits, and beauty.
Just like the billions he swindled, Jammeh took the money to fund the pageant’s coming to his country from the small nation’s reserves bank using directives.
He sent his aides to the bank to collect money as he desires, spending it frivolously without question. Those that dared to advise him otherwise were arrested, tortured or killed.
In just under a year, Jammeh had spent more than $45 million from tax payers’ money, living in luxury with his family, while the nation of fewer than two million people wallows in abject poverty.
The Gambia is about to auction off four presidential VIP aircraft that Jammeh had bought with the illicit wealth he obtained during his reign, all of which were by shady transactions through his business partners.
Anti-corruption campaigners said the allegations against Jammeh were a reminder of continuing deep problems with predatory rulers and officials who are frequently able to retain illegally obtained assets.
Gambians want Jammeh yanked back home but he is the home of another corrupt brutal autocratic ruler Theodore Obiang, his Potomac neighbor, and Africa’s longest-serving ruler.
It is unclear how long Jammeh, who confounded analysts with rapidly shifting foreign alliances and claims that herbal remedies could cure Aids, will remain there.