May 08, 2019  Features / ColumnistsFreddie Kissoon

Two factors have erased from my mind any possibility that David Granger could be the right person to lead Guyana beyond oil. The first was his
choice to head the oil sector. Not content with selecting someone not possessed with the relevant skills. He did a silly thing by announcing that the appointee will search and find the necessary qualified personnel. Surely, no president should make such unnecessary mistakes.

The second one was UG. It was clear to the academic community, and should have been so to the leadership of the government, that reckless spending of money at UG was taking place, and pressing areas of development at UG were being neglected. In such circumstances, since taxpayers’ money was being wasted, the presidency had to urgently take an interest. Those two factors decide my choice for the president of Guyana after oil, and it is not David Granger.
Now we have a replacement for the resigned Minister of Foreign Affairs. This commentary here is not an assessment of the character and personality of Dr. Karen Cummings. I got to know Dr. Cummings during the 2015 election campaign when she spoke at the same meeting at Tuschen. Her husband, Emmanuel, and I knew each other well when I was a lecturer at UG.
Dr. Cummings’s skills are in medicine. The foreign ministry portfolio is always filled by a lawyer if an international relations expert or an experienced business person or a social sciences academic is not available. Burnham had two lawyers; Sir Shridath Ramphal and Fred Wills, and an experienced diplomat, Rashleigh Jackson.
President Desmond Hoyte selected a professor in international relations, Cedric Grant, to guide him in the Foreign Affairs Ministry. Despite what criticism we may have of Clement Rohee’s qualifications, he was made Cheddi Jagan’s Foreign Minister after a long stint as the shadow Cabinet spokesperson for foreign affairs.
President Jagdeo went for an experienced diplomat similar to Jackson, Rudy Insanally. After Insanally, Jagdeo went for a woman, Caroline Rodrigues, who was trained in business management at a Canadian university and had Cabinet experience for seven years in areas that touched on international affairs, before she was appointed to Takuba Lodge.
Granger’s choice for Foreign Minister is bizarre, inane, silly and nonsensical when context is considered. That context is Raphael Trotman. Trotman has a Master’s Degree in diplomacy from one of the top international relations schools in the world – Fletcher School of Tufts University. His eligibility becomes commonsensical when you add his legal training. He has been a lawyer for more than ten years prior to entering politics and would have done service for international companies. Then his status as Minister of Natural Resources would have exposed him to international business transactions.

How could a president leave a senior Cabinet minister with that impressive background and choose a medical doctor with junior Cabinet status to become the Foreign Minister is not only appalling, but anti-developmental. Is this the man that Guyanese want to lead them when oil revenues come pouring in?
David Granger has demonstrated the past four years that he completely lacks 99 percent of the skills that a nation’s leader must possess. How does the analyst explain Carl Greenidge’s replacement? My opinion is incestuousness. Granger has exhibited a large penchant for giving high-level state jobs to people he knows up, close and personal. When he selected Dr. Mark Bynoe for the Energy Department, Dr. Tarron Khemraj, in the Stabroek News wrote that; “Dr. Bynoe appears to have a long running relationship with the President.” Granger is a close friend of UG’s Vice Chancellor.
The decision to fill the slot at our embassy in Cuba was shocking. Halim Majeed was one of the persons that did assignments for President Burnham in the socialist countries during the heyday of the Non-Aligned Movement. When Hoyte succeeded Burnham, he sidelined all the socialist/Marxist personnel Burnham had in sensitive positions. Majeed migrated and was forgotten for almost 35 years.
Granger made him ambassador to Cuba in 2015, at a time when most of the socialist/Marxist presidents, prime ministers and foreign ministers in the world had either grown old in retirement or had died. In 2015, Majeed would have arrived to a new Cuba where he would have been an unknown.
Granger left all the qualified, experienced foreign service officers at Takuba Lodge and resurrected Majeed. And why? They worked closely together when Granger was responsible for socialist education in the army and Majeed taught the soldiers such literature.
The question is; does Granger know Cummings over a long period of time and that is why he made his bizarre, foolish choice? I can only offer my opinion. My answer is yes.