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 Minister Bah implicated in awarding contract
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Posted - 04 Sep 2023 :  20:47:20  Show Profile Send Momodou a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Minister Bah implicated in awarding contract to his company
The Standard: September 4, 2023

Malagen investigative journalists have reported that the Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy has awarded a contract of over D700,000 to the Indian Institute of Hardware Technology (IITH), a company in which its minister, Ousman Bah, holds 90 percent shares.

The contract was for training government IT technicians on digital transformation and data security.

According to Malagen “the deal was done under circumstances that raised questions about conflict of interest among other irregularities, such as flouting of procurement rules, and potential cost inflation”.

Malagen reported: “The minister, Ousman Bah, was the chief executive officer of IIHT, before he was appointed by President Adama Barrow in June last year to lead the newly created Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy.

It is not clear whether he has resigned effectively from his CEO functions, but our sources said he is active in the running of the institute even though a woman claimed to be his sister, Awa Bah, currently serves as acting CEO. What has been confirmed though is that Minister Bah is the co-founder of the institute, holding 90 percent of the shares. Yet, he was actively involved in the negotiations for the contract to be awarded to the institute”.

According to Malagen Minister Bah did not respond to several requests for comments, but hours before going to press, he sent a typed written response saying that it was not true that he used his influence to get the contract for his institute and that when he joined the government a new management including board and new managers were appointed.

The permanent secretary at the ministry, Lamin Camara, said he had no knowledge that his minister owned the institute. “I did not see the need to enquire if the minister owns it or not,” he told Malagen. “All I understand is that it is a training institution operating in the country and specialised in ICT training.”

Malagen said it turned out that the contract did not go through any competitive bidding and even though the duration of the training has been reduced from three months to ten days, the total cost did not come down.

However, PS Camara clarified that such trainings are not subjected to procurement rules governing the award of other contracts. He also clarified that they received proposal for training for two time periods and chose the 10-day proposal.

The Standard contacted Minister Ousman Bah for clarification on the matter as we were about to go to press last night. He responded with a text explaining that the ministry will make clarifications on the matter in due course. He had just arrived from a trip overseas.

A clear conscience fears no accusation - proverb from Sierra Leone


11401 Posts

Posted - 07 Sep 2023 :  16:49:51  Show Profile Send Momodou a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Government Silence over Corruption!
By Madi Jobarteh

It is seven days now since Malagen published a damning story about the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy Ousman Bah awarding a contract worth seven hundred thousand dalasi to his former company for the training of information officers. Mr. Bah was appointed minister in June 2022 when he was the CEO of the Indian Institute of Hardware Technology (IIHT). Yet within months of assuming office, his ministry went to give his former company a huge contract without making any open tender. How can a ministry identify one company or accept an offer from a single company to give such a contract, not to mention the fact this company was owned by the minister? Is that not a clear case of conflict of interest?

It is seven days today and the President has not spoken about this matter. The Government Spokesman Ebrima Sankareh has not issued any statement. The Attorney General Dawda Jallow and his DPP Abdurrahman Maitama Yusuf have not taken any action. The IGP Abdoulie Sanyang has also not taken any action. In any normal country such a media report would have triggered all the relevant institutions and officials to investigate the matter to ensure that there is no illegality, abuse of office and corruption.

For example, in Ghana in 2018, investigative journalist Anas reported that there was massive abuse of office and bribery within the Ghana Football Association. Immediately the Association acted on the report by investigating and prosecuting all the people implicated in the report. Earlier in 2015, the same Anas released a report about corruption, bribery, and demand for sex in the Ghana judiciary. This report also led to the suspension of 12 high court judges and 22 lower court judges and a judicial inquiry opened. In the Gambia itself, when Malagen reported about corruption and bribery in the Ministry of Fisheries, we saw the Government act against the former Permanent Secretary Dr. Bamba Banja in 2021 leading to his trial and imprisonment for two years.

Therefore, why has President Barrow and his officials failed to act this time against the Minister Ousman Bah in a matter that clearly exposes conflict of interest, abuse of office and disregard of procurement rules hence exposure of blatant corruption? What is so special about this company, IIHT, such that it has to be single-sourced? One would have thought that the Minister would rather engage GTMI first, which is a government agency to deliver this training. And in any case why did the Ministry refuse to call for proposals from multiple service providers, but to go to only one company? What is special about this company?

It is clear from this matter that indeed the Gambia Government is not interested in the fight against abuse of office and corruption. What is evident is that the Government only engages in selective justice which is why action was taken against Dr. Banja, and not against Minister Ousman Bah or former Minister Abba Sanyang who was allowed to just resign when the Government itself said he committed actions that were in contravention of his role as a minister. Therefore, I demand Pres. Adama Barrow to pardon and release Dr. Banja immediately if similar action is not taken against other corrupt officials. What is good for the goose is good for the gander.

What is even more disappointing is the fact that no one seemed to be outraged in this country against corruption. Otherwise, this story should have generated a swift and strong reaction from political parties, CSOs and individuals across society to demand accountability. But as usual, this issue is totally ignored like every wrong thing in this country, yet we claim to love the Gambia and are committed to making it a better place. How? When we are silent about the wrongs and ignore perpetrators and allow those responsible to correct the wrongs to fail in their duties then we are preparing our country for doom and gloom.

For The Gambia Our Homeland

A clear conscience fears no accusation - proverb from Sierra Leone
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11401 Posts

Posted - 11 Sep 2023 :  12:13:59  Show Profile Send Momodou a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Communications ministry refutes Malagen’s revelations
September 11, 2023

By Alagie Manneh

The Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy (Mocde) has released a statement denying revelations by investigative news site Malagen that the ministry has awarded a training contract to a school owned by its minister, Ousman Bah.

“Conflict of interest, violation of procurement rules, and possible inflated costs have characterised the contract that the newly created ministry awarded to the institute owned by the minister, Ousman Bah, to train IT technicians from various government ministries on digital transformation and cyber security,” wrote Malagen.

But a statement signed by Lamin Camara, the permanent secretary of the ministry denied they signed any contract with IIHT. According to the statement, the ministry only “sent Government officials to be trained at IIHT”.

“We normally receive training proposals from various training institutions. Once relevant to our training needs, we then identify people to participate with the approval of PMO. This also, depends on the availability of funds for training to upgrade the capacity of staff,” the statement said.

It added: “In this particular instance, we received two proposals from IIHT as normally done by most training institutions. We reviewed the proposals, which were found to be very relevant to expose our ICT staff to the trending digital transformation and data security issues, hence, our decision to send our ICT staff there for the training. Our decision was not directed or influenced by Minister Ousman Bah as the paper (Malagen) erroneously alleged.”

On allegations of inflating the cost of the supposed contract, the ministry said the proposed 90- day training was supposed to be conducted two days per week and 2 hours per day without food and refreshments. “This corresponds to 48 hours over 90 days. The second proposal was 10 days intensive course to be conducted over eight (8) hours per day. Following discussions between the ministry’s technical staff and the school IIHT, to ensure value for money, we settled for the 10 days, which gives 80 hours training time with food and refreshments inclusive for the participants. Being the vote controller, I agreed to this option, because it was the most pragmatic, most cost effective and guaranteed value for money”, PS Camara said.

However investigative journalist Mustapha K Darboe of Malagen, said the fact of the matter remains that the ministry hired a college, IIHT, which is 90 percent owned by the minister to offer a service, and that fact is not in dispute.

“Whether you have signed a paper or not, the fact remains you hired them to train your staff at a fee. You do not want to call that a contract but you can say that you merely sent them there to be trained. The fact remains you have contracted them,” the investigative journalist told The Standard.

Mustapha Darboe said the ministry has failed to address the issues in their statement.

“Our story was about the fact that the Ministry of Digital Economy went and hired the college of a minister that is overseeing that ministry to train IT officers and that is a clear conflict of interest, and the statement failed to address that,” he said.

When asked why more than a week now since the Malagen revelations no one seems to have been held responsible, Mr Darboe said: “The bottom line is the government does not care about accountability, and we have published far worse stories in The Gambia yet nothing seems to happen.”

A clear conscience fears no accusation - proverb from Sierra Leone
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