Apr 30, 2017 Features / Columnists, Freddie Kissoon

frddie2How could people like those in the leadership of the People’s National Congress and the Alliance For Change face so many of us now that they are in government? In my column yesterday, I looked at the performance in government of people like David Granger and Vincent Alexander, who profess undying admiration of Forbes Burnham, and concluded that in power these two men have strayed very far from the ideals of Burnham.
In that column, I opined that Walter Rodney would be ashamed to know what Rupert Roopnaraine has become now that Roopnaraine is a part of a government in Guyana. I concluded with some comments on Moses Nagamootoo, a staunch admirer of Cheddi Jagan, with the judgement that Cheddi Jagan would have certainly disapproved of Nagamootoo’s performance as Prime Minister. The original title for this column was, “An outrageous government that lost its way; “but I decided to use the current headline that may arouse more curiosity in readers.
Something about the relationship between the key players in government and the owner of that enormous building at Camp and Lamaha Streets needs investigating. I am suggesting that the media and anti-corruption commentators and civil society groups ought to probe this relationship. There is an inexplicable dimension in this relationship that is intriguing. I am not making any accusations. What the rest of this column is about is a question about the relationship that makes no sense to me. I am entitled to my opinion, once I do not make accusations.
First, the Vice-Chancellor of the university. I have no question in my mind that Professor Griffith is not the person to hold that crucial position, given UG’s moribund condition. This is my honest, sincere opinion.
Let’s look at what Griffith did. The Guyanese people must question the leaders in government on what Griffith did and square it with criticisms they made when they were in opposition. Griffith proposed to use an initial 84 million dollars in the first year to rent that building. After this, the rent would have been 6 million monthly, plus UG would have had to pay for maintenance.
Here now is the part that calls into question the relevance of Professor Griffith to Guyana’s development thrust and the failure of Granger and Vincent Alexander to stay true to Burnham’s vision.
Griffith wants this structure to house a School of Business. Nowhere in Griffith’s plan is a School of Oceanography, School of Climate Studies, School of Agricultural Science, School of Oil and Gas Studies, School of Manufacturing Sciences. After fifty years of Independence, the UG Vice-Chancellor wants to rent a building to start a faculty of business studies.
This is a “piss poor’ (as one Guyanese icon described the Guyanese economy) tenth rate banana republic that has a tiny business world which is dwarfed billions of times by our neighbours of Barbados, Jamaica and Trinidad. One night in Berbice over dinner, Christopher Ram lifted up his hand and told us that you can count on your fingers the number of public companies (private companies) on our stock exchange.
All we have done since Independence is export raw materials and buy and sell. This is the extent of our business world in Guyana. Our migration of young educated people is unimaginable. Yet against this background, taxpayers’ money would have gone into renting a building from a private businessman for a business school, while UG sits on a large estate owned by the people of Guyana.
But wait! There is more to come. After UG would have rented the structure, the Ministry of Health would have paid one million dollars a month for space to house a Child Healthcare Centre right in that building. Two other governmental agencies would have rented space too
Why with so many places all over the country that the government owns, would it want to pay rent of about two million dollars? Something is not right here. Something about the relationship between big people in government and the owner of that high-rise is perhaps unusual or not orthodox.
Can Professor Griffith tell us if it was his idea in the first place to help the businessman or was it a suggestion from a big-wig in the corridors of power? Where is this big wig from – PNC or AFC? Is there more than one big wig in the act or is there a cabal?
The faster the Coalition Government slides down the chasm of morbid mediocrity, the faster our young educated ones will leave, and the quicker the country will walk towards the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, which is right outside waiting for us.