THE Kaieteur News of Wednesday, 13th March, 2019, on its front page printed in large block letters and photograph of the interior of the region’s board room, stating that the statutory meeting of the Region Two Regional Democratic Council (RDC) was not held because there was not a quorum, (a third of the councillors) and on the said page there was a comment attributed to the Regional Executive Officer Mr. Denis Jaikaran.
I was very much concerned, because the RDC meetings must be seen as the highest decision-making forum or body in the region and as a former councillor, I cannot recall that during my seven consecutive years 2006 – 2013, until I resigned, that there were no quorums and even before and after my tenure, I was reliably informed that a quorum was always met, thereby a meeting can be convened.
On Tuesday, 9th April, 2019, I attended the monthly statutory meeting of the RDC. There were seven councillors, the meeting was called to order, silent prayers were done and the National Pledge was recited. The meeting was chaired by Miss Juliet Coonjah, a long-serving councillor and deputy regional chairman, and as items on the agenda were started, the REO, who is also the Clerk of the RDC, rose and announced that the meeting was not properly convened, because he was not properly informed about the absence of the Regional Chairman, Mr. Devanand Ramdatt.
I immediately vacated my seat and left the board room. Glancing over my shoulder, I saw the REO and some employees of the regional administration close behind me. I was somewhat confused with what I had heard and observed, but on recollection, I should not have been because it is by now public knowledge that the former REO Mr. Rupert Hopkinson and the council, not the chairman per se, did not have a good working relationship.
It is very important to say that I have known Mr. Ramdatt for the better part of two decades and I was fortunate to be at a lot of high-profile meetings that he chaired and made presentations and took questions; I was always impressed by the ability he possessed, therefore I was the least surprised when he was elected to the chair of the Region Two RDC and after he had taken the oath, I was among the first to congratulate him.
As for Mr. Rupert Hopkinson, I know this gentleman well, long before he was appointed REO of this region; and there should be no doubt in one’s mind that he is qualified and experienced to function in that capacity. But for some strange reason, they have never had a harmonious relationship; they could not have simply agreed to disagree.
Mr. Hopkinson is no longer part of the regional administration; his replacement Mr. Denis Jaikaran, who has a wealth of knowledge in management, having been the principal of several technical institutes across the country and other institutions of learning and previously the REO of Region Three, and as an Essequibian knows the arithmetic of the region well.
The question is, why in the interest of the residents of this region that working relationship that is so vital, is lacking? It has to be understood that development in all areas of this region and its people, hinges on the decisions made by the REO and the regional chairman as head of the RDC individually, but most times, collectively.
Archie W. Cordis