by Alieu Ceesay, Secretary General, SJAG
In Gambia, Mr Lamin Kaba Bajo has been re-elected President of The Gambia Football Federation (GFF) for next four years.
Bajo pulled 63 of the total votes while his opposition and former referee Malick Sillah who decided to pulled out on the eve of the congress got 2 votes.
The Electoral Committee chaired by The Gambia National Olympic Committee (GNOC) President Dodou Capi Joof said it was not officially notified of the withdrawal.
A former referee, Malick Sillah’s camp alleged malpractices after five of its members were disqualified for what the Electoral Committee says “failing to meet the nomination requirements.”
The five disqualified members had earlier filed an injunction at the Banjul High Court, which was thrown out by the court. Another injunction filed at the Court but it did not stopped the election from going ahead.
The GFF says it has suspended the five for taking football matters to ordinary court, which it says is against the FIFA Statutes.
The Congress was attended by all the eligible voters with the exception of three clubs; Samger, Brufut United and Lions of Banjul.
The Congress was also attended by Augustine Sengore, President of Senegalese Football Association; and two representatives from the Confederation of African Football (CAF) and world football governing body, FIFA.
Meanwhile Lang Tombong Tamba was elected 3rd VP after winning against Foday Danjo.
Bakary Jammeh was elected unopposed 1st VP and Ebou Faye as 2nd VP. Alhagie Faye was elected as Referees’ Representative, while Sainabou Cham and Maimuna Conteh are Female Football Representatives. Ismaila S Ceesay of School Football Association is also Executive Member without any portfolio.
In his victory statement, Lamin Kaba Bajo says it is a continuation from where stopped in the last four years.
“One of our primary goal is to promote grassroot football. The super nawettan and the inclusion of regional teams in leagues is a manifestation of our vision in football decentralisation.”
On the poor performance of the national team, Bajo says he will do everything to work with the Gambian government to achieve a great height.
“We also thanks our outside partners, GNOC, CAF, WAFU and FIFA. We are calling on the private sector to invest with returns. We are already working with some for sponsorship. We will continue to upgrade on capacity building programs.”
To the staff of GFF, he advised that there will be no room for tolerant in terms of the GFF staff. He vows not to take embarrassment for their failures to execute the work they are paid for.
“The election is over and am calling on my brother Malick Sillah and co to come and join us to work for football. Football needs you and I won’t hesitate to call you on board if needed,” he concluded.
The Football Federation has recently came under investigation for tax invasion over a contract awarded to a local supplier for the construction of the FIFA Goal Project.
The GFF failed to withhold a 10% tax to be paid to the revenue authority. The National Assembly Select Committee for Sports instructed the Police to investigate the alleged tax evasion. The Football House was found to be in default. Therefore, the National Sports Council of The Gambia went onto suspend the President Lamin Kaba Bajo, 2nd Vice President Ebou Faye and an executive Member Bakary Jammeh (now 1st VP). The suspension was lifted after the intervention of the Sports Minister Hadrammeh Sidibeh.
The National Assembly Select Committee on Sports said in a statement that it never instructed the National Sports Council to suspend the executive. In suspending the executive, the National Sports Council of The Gambia said it was acting on the instruction of the Select Committee.
The Police report was also shared with the Ministry of Justice of The Gambia for legal advice.
In a statement, it says it never gave any legal advice for the suspension of the executive at the time.
Gambian football has been marred with controversies as critics of the current executive has blamed the poor results by the various football teams largely to those steering the affairs of the game. They have also accused the executive of corruption and incompetency.
The GFF says such allegations are coming from people who wants to occupy the Football House.
For a country that is struggling to catch up with other countries interms of infrastructure, The Gambia has never qualified for any major international competition.