Barely 24 hours after returning from his religious trip to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, President Adama Barrow of the Gambia has made a ground-breaking decision in renouncing the title of “Alhaji” he acquired at the end of the pilgrimage.

“The Office of the President wishes to take this opportunity to inform the general public that His Excellency the President does not intend to adopt the title of Alhaji following the completion of the Hajj rites,” says the president in a statement issued on Thursday.

The Gambian leader arrived in Banjul on Wednesday after the completion of the Hajj rites. Among the presidential delegation were his two wives, First Lady Fatou Bah and Lady Sarjo Mballow, Chief Justice, Hassan B Jallow, Foreign Affairs Minister Ousainou Darbo, Interior Minister Mai Ahmad Fatty and Tourism Minister Hamat Bah.

The presidency made it clear that he “should continue to be addressed as “His Excellency Adama Barrow” as inscribed on the official portrait.

The move has taken by surprise many Gambians as former long-time ruler Yahya Jammeh was fond of titles. and did not hesitate to reprimand or send to jail anyone who failed to mention one of them. His Excellency Sheikh Professor Alhaji Dr. Yahya AJJ Jammeh was his official name.

In June 2015, Jammeh defied all logics in adding another title Babiili Mansa” meaning “Conqueror of Rivers” to his kilometric name. ”

Mr Jammeh lost to Adama Barrow in the December 2016 presidential elections. He had disputed the election results but was forced by the regional bloc ECOWAS to back down. He now lives in exile in Equatorial Guinea.