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OPINION: Say it ain’t so, Mr. President

By GHK Lall

How could you, Mr. President? Say it ain’t so, Excellency… Except that it is.

I am the short end of the stick here; it is a dirty, undesired one. Spiked too. For there I was repeatedly trashing those tardy public servants, who lapsed through negligence, or contempt, or impatience, or disinterest (or some combination of all those) for failing to deliver those declarations to the now widely, including presidentially, ignored Integrity Commission. This is disheartening. Surprising and weakening, too, considering the latest source.

I must confess that this one caught me out of the blue and off-guard; now I feel black and blue all over. Yes, it is that serious. For I have said in public, before shaky friends and scornful foes, that Mr. David Granger epitomizes a different standard, and is the personification of what the First Lady exhorted others the other day to reflect: values and virtues. To emphasize the extraordinary and sacred nature of this standard, I saw him as the standard and the example, for all others to follow. Particularly after the tawdriness that did grace the highest leadership ranks for the longest while. And now this…

The skeptics and critics are going to have a field day. Let them. I am taken aback, jarred, reeling from this disclosure of nondisclosure on the part of David Arthur Granger, the man, the president, the figure that has to be—must be—of the kind and character that has not been experienced before here in dirty, tarnished, deformed Guyana. This one is on me. It is for the president. I look into my well. It is empty. There are not anymore like this one.

I do not think (I do not want to) that this was a matter of memory. Not when the airwaves are pulsating with cries of denunciations for those errant seniors, who now have smug cover under which to retreat and shelter. If he could, then why not me? Why the double standard of different strokes for different folks? Though there were the extremely pressing issues of health and travel and all the surrounding distresses, I do not believe that, even when taken in combination and as humanly understandable as they are, those so much as amount to the cover of a fig leaf. Not when there are so many partners and advisers and counselors and helpers. That may hold for the others, but not for His Excellency. The Commander-in-Chief is not allowed much room, any such luxuries.

Presidents have to, first and foremost, find a way to the forefront to separate from the more human, the less scrutinized, the still lesser judged. This president, who promises so much, who I believe and trust to embody so much that is of an alien nature to this society, has slipped. That euphemism notwithstanding, I am appalled and shrink in disbelief.

What am I going to say in apology to those I have castigated and found deplorable? What can I say? Follow the leader? I shrivel from what I now see as the meagerness of the once vaunted Integrity Commission. Daily it loses luster, the standing of a frowning, rebuking, stinging, judging presence. Perhaps I have too little, thus I am unable to identify with the complexities and magnitude of those who have so much more, who need so much more time, and who find themselves so bogged down and disturbed by this annoyance, this torment in the throat and testicles called the Integrity Commission.

If this is the way it is regarded, the manner in which it is treated, then it might be just as well that the paper charade be over and done with and bring closure to the personal agonies and hesitancies. Disband the thing. Move on to other things. But with one understanding: let the good old ties continue to roll. They really didn’t stop, did they?

For if these declarations are causing so much trouble for those impacted, be they at the highest level or somewhere immediately below, then what does that say? I think that it can be inferred that some have so much that they do not know what they do have. And further, that as public servants there are those associated responsibilities for putting things on the table in the clear light of day. They neither can be shunned nor should be shirked. Guyana waits for what the president has to say more than he has said; that is not enough. I wait, too.

Mr. GHK Lall is a Guyanese author, columnist and former financial analyst on Wall Street.