Sherod Duncan on Thursday resumed duties as General Manager of the Guyana National Newspapers Limited (GNNL), publisher of the Guyana Chronicle, a move that apparently prompted several staff members to sick out and craft a petition to President David Granger urging him to reverse Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo’s decision.
Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo also on Thursday accused the Alliance For Change (AFC) of using the Guyana Chronicle as a barter tool for Nagamootoo to secure sufficient votes at the party’s next National Conference. Nagamootoo is also seeking his party’s endorsement to again run as the coalition’s prime ministerial candidate.
Several staff members stayed away from work and others said they were considering resigning because they could not work with Duncan.
In the petition seen by Demerara Waves Online News, the signatories told President Granger they were “appealing to you to intervene on our behalf in this critical matter.” “We are asking that you review the appointment of Duncan on our behalf, and that this decision be swiftly dealt with even as we keep in mind that you have a busy schedule to manage the affairs of the State.
Your Excellency, we take pride in our work and serve this newspaper diligently at every beck and call. We enjoy our work and our motivation is driven by our respect for each other and camaraderie. Mr President, our appeal to you has no origin in hate or malice towards Mr Duncan, but simply to restore credible leadership at the Guyana National Newspapers Limited,” the petition states.
Jagdeo reasoned that Duncan, who was accused of financial mismanagement after a State audit had found several glaring procedural irregularities, was reinstated because he was appointed Chairman of the Georgetown Group District of the AFC and “he would have delegates and Nagamootoo, opportunistically now, he wants the support so a deal was cut to reinstate him.”
The Opposition Leader said the brouhaha at the GNNL had nothing about transparency and accountability of public funds. He noted that AFC Leader Raphael Trotman is also opposed to party chairman Khemraj Ramjattan becoming the prime ministerial candidate.
“Trotman, he doesn’t support Ramjattan, he supports Nagamootoo so Trotman obviously would support the reinstatement of Sherod Duncan because it seems as though a nice little cozy deal was cut that ‘you give me back my job, I’ll deliver the delegates to you at the Congress’ and so I’m not surprised that it’s done but it’s unethical and it shows the true nature of the AFC,” said Jagdeo.
“They would trade off all the so-called principles just for their internal politics,” he added.
While in the People’s Progressive Party (PPP), Nagamootoo had been sidelined from ministerial office twice including on one occasion when he had won the second highest number of votes after then President Janet Jagan. Instead, he had been relegated to the then PPP government’s back bench in the House.
Prime Minister Nagamootoo’s instruction to the Board to reverse its dismissal of Duncan almost immediately sparked off the resignation of Board Chair, Geeta Chandan-Edmond and directors, Mervyn Williams and Hilbert Foster. Chandan-Edmond has bluntly rejected Nagamootoo’s claim that there was no vote count among the seven board members on whether Duncan ought to have been fired.
It was not immediately clear whether Duncan’s return was legitimate since the board did not accede to the Prime Minister’s request and instead the Board Chair, who openly opposed the Prime Minister over reversing Duncan’s dismissal, and the two other directors resigned with immediate effect.