Last Updated on Saturday, 5 June 2021, 23:44 by Denis Chabrol
by GHK Lall
The news came via technology, and it was startling. Two senior employees of the Guyana Gold Board were terminated. Given the two officers dismissed, and my own familiarity with both, I wonder what could have been the problem with them that was so grave as to merit dismissal. More importantly, I will now tender something that Guyana’s head of state had asked for, which is evidence of racial discrimination.
By way of background, I have known Mr. Thomas Nestor, one of the fired workers, for several decades. As for Mr. Hilbert Knight, I have had association with for approximately four years only. I will be unequivocal about something regarding the two of them: there are very few Guyanese elected or selected in this country’s cadre of officials and professionals, who can compare to them where honesty and integrity are concerned. By this I mean leadership ranks, ministerial cohort, other politicians and senior bureaucrats. Further, they conduct themselves in a professional manner, and know their jobs inside out.
Mr. Nestor served for years in the Audit Office, and rose to a very senior level. As an auditor, he can be dogged, which is very desirable; as a communicator, he tends towards the dogmatic, which can be problematic for some. In fact, his body of work at the Guyana Gold Board (GGB) was consistently solid to outstanding, and dependable, of which more cannot be asked form an auditor in such a sensitive entity; he put in structure and process. Truth be told, this was not the case for donkey years at the GGB, where my sense was that audit was everybody’s buddy, and the dismal lack of discovery confirmed this incestuous friendliness. Perhaps, Mr. Nestor’s removal is to clear the way to return to the good old days of all is well. That is one of the reasons why I am so skeptical of any revealing audit concerns on COVID-19 cash and other big-ticket spending. I think the fix is in, and this is what the PPP leadership holds aloft in the farces about their clean governance, and the ethics of their chosen ones.
Similarly, Mr. Knight did his job well, honorably, and professionally. I can so attest; anyone who desires to challenge me, go ahead! Make my day. This was a public servant, who led by example in what is a tempting and corrupting operational environment. Now I will take some stubborn stances, which come from in-depth knowledge of the professional comportment of these two fine officers. First, they weren’t fired for not performing (incompetence) the requirements of their respective jobs. Second, dishonesty is out. Third, that means corrupt practices were nonexistent. Fourth, I do not recall, would not think, that either has insulted or embarrassed a ruling political figure. That is my portfolio, which many look to me to deliver. To these I say: do own heavy lifting.
I conclude, therefore, that since the dismissals of Messrs. Nestor and Knight could not be based on incompetence, insubordination, political disrespect, predations, lack of ethics and integrity, then there can be one and only reason for their summary terminations: the color of their skin. Here is another: because of the color of their skin, there is automatic association with an opposing political persuasion. In Guyana, that is now the kiss of professional death. As an aside, it is cruelly ironic that these professional and performing Black Guyanese public servants-clean and honorable ones-were sent packing; but, on the other hand, there is the remarkable development of a former officer of the Gold Board slapped with dozens of pending fraud charges, who has been quietly reemployed at another state agency. Guess the color of that one’s skin…. Those who safeguarded and cared for the people’s assets are given the boot; while those accused of stealing it are embraced and restored.
A month ago, President Irfaan Ali had asked for evidence of racial discrimination before, I humbly bring it before him, in the heads of Thomas Nestor and Hilbert Knight. And should His Excellency need more evidence of the rankness of the discriminations now characterizing his administration, I give him Dr. Vincent Adams (EPA). I give him Mr. Geoffrey Vaughn (Public Infrastructure). And I remind him about Thomas Nestor and Hilbert Knight. Those are a start. For whom the bell tolls next? Guyanese have a saying: moon ah run til day ketch am. We will pay costly prices for the blatant discriminations that now run rampant in this country, compliments of leadership machinations, in treasure and temper.