THERE are some things we can opt to ignore and allow to pass as irrelevance or nonsensical. However, when public figures utter unsubstantiated damaging or discrediting statements, there is cause for great concern and even need for such misinformation to be exposed, challenged and corrected. The latter is extremely important. It has become a Public Relations challenge for the incumbent administration particularly in this politically divided and intellectually fragile society, where analytical skills are at an all-time low.
Sustained, mischievous utterances and attacks by some members of the political opposition against the State Asset Recovery Agency (SARA), its functionality and its human resource component have not gone unnoticed, nor should they be taken for granted. Such attacks seek to discredit and compromise SARA’s functionality and endanger its personnel.
The chief instigator and crusader against SARA is none other than one of Guyana’s former Presidents, Mr. Bharat Jagdeo. Mr Jagdeo’s greatest nightmare seems to be SARA. He becomes vividly livid at just hearing the acronym. From the get-go, Mr Jagdeo opposed the very idea of a State Asset Recovery Agency. He sought, through various schemes and agents, to dismantle its very formation. Other tactics involved personal attacks against SARA officials, sensationalism and fear-mongering by some of his cohorts, particularly those in the Private Sector Commission (PSC). More recently, direct onslaughts have been levelled against Dr Clive Thomas, Messrs Eric Phillips, Desmond Trotman, Tacuma Ogunseye and Aubrey Heath-Retemyer. Those were the specific names mentioned by Mr Jagdeo!
The attack against Mr Retemyer by the former President is my main reason for writing.
Mr Jagdeo has been using his status and immunity in a shockingly indiscriminate and disgraceful manner. It is jejune for someone of Mr Jagdeo’s standing to descend to the level that now appears to be his zone of comfort, where he rants all sort of ludicrous and character-damaging assertions about individuals, some of whom his comparative moral short falls are significantly great. His recalcitrance is simply unbecoming of a leading political figure.
Mr Jagdeo, in his latest public utterance, called Mr. Retemyer a re-migrated security guard and geriatric friend of President David Granger. Jagdeo sought to establish the latter association as the reason for Mr Retemyer’s appointment as SARA’s CEO.
Mr Jagdeo’s statement is not just ludicrous, mischievous misinformation, but also an affront to Guyana’s standing President – David Granger. It is also discrediting and slighting to the Guyana Defence Force, the University of Guyana, the Pan-African Development Foundation, the Christian community, and the New York City Department of Education; all credible institutions where Mr Retemyer has served honourably or received some form of accreditation.
Mr Jagdeo failed to pronounce that Mr Retemyer, notwithstanding all of his other personal accomplishments including legal marriage and children, is a practised Major (Retired) of the Guyana Defence Force who grew up on a sugar plantation and climbed the ladder of success without compromising his manhood or integrity. Jagdeo also failed to posit that Mr Retemyer wrote a book, is mentally alert, fit and can still do a conservative five-kilometre walk without necessary resuscitation or medical attention thereafter.
Mr Jagdeo has also insulted all members of security guard services and their personnel. Even if Mr Retemyer served all his life as a security guard, Mr Jagdeo’s statement has sought to establish disgrace and infamy of the profession as one which has no scope for career or personal development. If that is to be taken literally, Mr Jagdeo is insinuating that security guards are worthless people.
As an elector and citizen of Guyana, I would urge Mr Jagdeo to make a concerted effort to act like the statesman he claims to be and refrain from treating his fellow countrymen with disdain and indignity, or further attempting to insult the intelligence of Guyanese. We will not all be hoodwinked.
On April 13, 2017, Guyana’s Parliament approved the SARA Bill, which will integrate and empower the SARU (State Assets Recovery Unit) to trace and recover stolen or misappropriated state assets. It also provides the legislative scope for deterring and preventing such activities from taking place in future. Assets of the state fundamentally include Taxpayers-funded tangibles, Land and Finance.
The Guyana Government has a fiduciary duty to prudently manage, preserve and protect its state assets, as the majority of citizens expect the government to ensure that there is accountability, fairness and equitable distribution of the nation’s resources.