A former Minister of Information under the People’s National Congress administration has warned President David Granger that his failure to hold formal scheduled press conferences could see him being isolated from the wider Guyanese society.
Nascimento, a former Cabinet member and Information Minister in the Forbes Burnham-led administration, in more direct words to President Granger warned him that it was not only about what the journalists think about his failure to hold scheduled press conferences but also what are the views of his Cabinet colleagues on the matter.
The public relations consultant indicated that the President was failing to communicate effectively with a large percentage of Guyanese who are on Social Media by refusing to hold regular news conferences.
“You realise that the media every day of every week of every month throughout your tenure communicate with a high percentage of the population and what they cover is usually regurgitated on social media. Yet, Mr. President, you continue to ignore this reality. Yes, Mr. President, you do so at your own peril and will inevitably and ultimately pay the price,” said the former head the now defunct government-run Guyana Public Communications Agency (GPCA).
Nascimento emphasised his concern by quoting former United States President, Abraham Lincoln in 1858, said, “he who molds public opinion goes deeper than he who enacts statutes or pronounces decisions. He makes statutes and decisions possible or impossible to be executed”.
“I wonder, however, who is an exceedingly intelligent man but not a traditional politician, has given thought to the fact that any political leader in a democracy is putting himself or herself at huge risk, if not prescribing his or her own political demise, by isolating himself or herself from the media and, I believe, ultimately from the people,” Nascimento said in a letter to the media.
The concerns by the public communications specialist, who also worked briefly for the People’s Progressive Party-led government, came one day after Minister of State, Joseph Harmon sought to defend the President’s decision not to hold regular press conferences.
Harmon stressed that the President was accessible to the media on the sidelines of public engagements. However, those interactions with the media often times last one minute to less than 10 minutes and do not allow for detailed questions on major national issues
He could not, however, say when the Guyanese leader would face the media at press conferences.
Granger has held only two press conferences since coming to office in May 2015, unlike his weekly press conferences while he was as Opposition Leader.
The Guyana Press Association, privately-owned Stabroek News and Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo have all criticised the President for failing to hold press conferences. For his part, the President has said that he has been busy with other official engagements causing him not to do so.