The Minister of Youth and sports Hon Bakary Badjie just issued a statement regarding the recent per diem scandal. Below is the full statement:
I know some people are disappointed by news making the rounds about me. You do not have to be. I am being wrongly judged. This message is to clarify and clear my name of any wrongdoing. As a public servant, I owe this to you, Gambians.
To my loved ones and people who have so much respect for me and could not by any stretch of their imagination thought I could not involve in such conduct, I assure that the Bakary Badjie that you have known to be a man of integrity have not and will not ever betray your trust and confidence. I acted in good faith.
From the onset, neither I nor the Ministry engaged in any clandestine or fraudulent transaction. This process was transparent and that is why the said letter in circulation was not treated with confidentiality. Rather, all relevant institutions have been copied and notified.
Secondly, the inclusion of my wife to the event was not a personal choice. I neither ask from nor did I impose it on any person or authority. It was a privilege extended to me and other invited dignitaries by the Commonwealth Secretariat. This is a common practice in Commonwealth and Olympics games.
Just like her inclusion in the trip by invitation, the payment of allowance to her was not my initiative. I have made consultations with relevant and competent authorities and have been assured that paying allowance to my wife under the circumstances is justified and not at variance with law or acceptable practice.
This is the first time I had such a privileged invitation and I relied on authoritative and competent advice as has been my modus operandi since I assumed office.
The financing of the Commonwealth and Islamic Games is not entirely government. The government provides a budget support and GNOC does the other part of the funding and takes charge of the entire organizations.
The past 24 hours have been quite difficult for me and my family, as well as loved ones. I have learnt my lessons from this unfortunate incident. I did not and never will I intend to defraud or steal public funds. I have even before coming to government and throughout my time in office frowned upon such unacceptable conducts in all its forms. Today, more than ever before, I remain committed to these values of honesty and integrity.
I have consulted widely on this issue and have come to the conclusion that the right thing to do is for my wife to refund the entire money paid to her.
To this end, I hereby invite the state or any competent authority to launch an independent investigation into my conduct. I have zero doubts about my innocence and I am ready and willing to face the consequences if I am found guilty of any wrongfully.