BISHOP Juan Edgill (GC June 12) questioned the Vice-Chancellor’s appointment at UG by an interim board. The argument he advanced was not on the qualification or gender of Dr. Paloma Mohamed Martin, but a violation of the principle of academic integrity relating to appointments by an interim administration. A similar appointment was made for Chancellor (JE Greene) and a deputy VC (Dr. Melissa Ifill). Though not an academic, Bishop Juan Edgill knows the principle well by stating last June that new appointments are not made during a caretaker administration. He displayed more integrity than others. My friend Moses Nagamootoo got it all wrong when he slammed Edgill who was right.
Nagamootoo was being pretentious as he knows that caretaker administrations don’t make important appointments especially at a university or in the civil service. When Nagamootoo became Minister of Information in 1992, all political appointments were revisited and terminated. It had nothing to do with gender or sex politics; it is an issue of principle that Nagamootoo also fought for and has reversed since forming an alliance with PNC.
I am as disturbed as Bishop Edgill on why these appointments were made in the midst of an attempt of the incumbent APNU+AFC regime to steal an election. None of the appointees condemned the fraud. When a bold attempt was made to rig an election, no appointment should have been made especially when the government lost a no-confidence motion and all court appeals relating to it, as well as the fraudulent votes were dismissed.
As Edgill correctly noted, the status quo on appointments holds pending the completion of the election. To do otherwise is to violate long held principles relating to a no confidence motion and governance of an interim administration.
During a caretaker government, all boards are considered interim and long established principles (in fact the law) dictate that new appointments are put off till a new government is formed and new boards are appointed. Such a basic principle should not be violated at the institution of highest learning, University of Guyana.
I hope that President Irfaan Ali’s administration visit those appointments. At a minimum, I expect UG’s board to resign already. The members should do so honorably now if they haven’t tendered their resignation. The mere fact that they made appointments during a caretaker administration disqualifies them for further membership on the board. They ought to know basic rules about governance. They lack integrity for continuation of service in office.
I served at academic board at City College of NY for a few years when I was elected to student government. When a new chancellor for the city university or a new college president was appointed, the board resigned and a new board was constituted unless he asks for continuation.
At UG, at the time of Ifill’s appointment, a declaration of the election result was imminent that would have resulted in a new government and appointment of a new board at UG. What was the urgency to appoint Ifill two days before Ali became President? Why did VC do it? Could it not have waited especially since Ifill has long been an APNU ideologue? I applaud Dr. Irfill for her African cultural nationalism. Nothing is wrong in championing one’s ethnicity. But academics of other ethnic groups (in particular our Indigenous people and Indians) must be given same privileges and equity at UG.
People I have interacted with at UG endorse the view of Edgill that given recent appointments are mired in controversy, it is appropriate for all the appointees to tender their resignation and a new board established for a complete start over based on academic integrity.
Dr. Vishnu Bisram