Jul 30, 2018 News Comments Off on You will need the “enemy” to be reelected to Office
– Lewis reminds President Granger
Whatever the reason President David Granger has decided to function without opening himself to steady and sustained accountability to the people of Guyana through the media, Trade Unionist, Lincoln Lewis has reminded him not to burn the bridge he crossed.
Lewis thinks that while Granger seems to have made the media the “enemy,” his success at the next election will be significantly hinged on the willingness of the media to give him coverage when he needs it most.
Lewis made his views known in his most recent column published in this newspaper. Read entire column: https://www.kaieteurnewsonline.com/2018/07/29/is-president-granger-being-well-served-by-his-advisors/.
Lewis said that there is a perception that the government is floundering in the making of policies, and not serving the people’s best interest due to an absence of vision that would impact coherent thought processes and direction.
He said that the views as to what or who is responsible for this are mixed.
Lewis said that some hold the view that President David Granger is not taking advice. While, others are contending the problem is his advisors – “i.e. the ministerial team – and that many lack the strength and capacity to do what is expected of them, including honestly advising him.
The ultimate responsibility for the performance of the Executive is the President, and as he expresses satisfaction with the performance of his team, continuous evaluation is being made by the man in the street who sees it differently.”
Lewis noted that the media community is clamoring for the President to hold press conferences and the Press Association has even referred to the level of access it had when he was in the Opposition, comparative to now.
The Trade Unionist said that in opposition, “Granger was not expected to account as Leader of the Executive but as Leader of the Opposition, and that saw him addressing issues, making promises/commitments that the society yearned for and pulling the right cords. As President holding press conferences and facing the media, he will be rightly asked questions to account for the stewardship of his administration.”
Lewis continued, “the absence or paucity in engaging with the media has caused a deterioration of a relationship relied on when in Opposition, and will be needed should he be seeking re-election. Obviously, the President would desire coverage, positively more likely, to be told far and wide in the process of securing another term. Non-engagement with an institution, once considered vital to getting your messages out, has reached the point where strong perception is being held that the media has become enemy.”
Lewis pointed out that while Granger dodges holding press conferences, the Leader of the Opposition Bharrat Jagdeo’s weekly press conference has filled the political space of the people needing to hear from the nation’s premier political leadership on policies and other critical issues.
Further, Lewis noted that post-Cabinet press conferences cannot be equated to a press conference that speaks to policy issues, which is the forte of the presidency. “In fact, at the Cabinet press conference, the Minister defers on critical issues.”
The Coalition rode to power promising more transparency, but since becoming President in 2015, President David Granger has hosted a mere two official press conferences.
Even after official trips overseas, and numerous official engagements, the President has not faced the nation, opting to use the Department of Public Information (DPI) for the release of information.
DPI releases leave no room for questions from the press.
Earlier this month, President of the Guyana Press Association (GPA), Nazima Raghubir, told Kaieteur News that too many issues of national importance are going unaddressed.
“The lack of engagement does no good to any Government’s role to be accountable and transparent. The Guyana Press cannot continue to meet the President on the sidelines of events.
“We have already had to deal with limited access during the Public Interest programme,” Raghubir stated.
She added that the GPA has raised the need for more frequent engagements with the Head of State since 2015.
According to Raghubir, the GPA raised the matter again at the President’s media brunch in January and as recent as May during World Press Freedom Day.
Following General Elections in May 2015, President Granger hosted his first press conference in October 2015.
Initially, there was the Public Interest programme where selected media houses were invited to sit and question the President, then that ended.
There were no press conferences in 2016 and it was only after public criticisms that the President hosted another press conference more than a year later, on December 14, last.
It is now seven months since the last press conference and again the President is facing sharp criticisms.
On the sidelines of the ICT Road Show earlier this month, President Granger told reporters that he has been busy.
“It can be very challenging and as soon as I get the opportunity, I will engage with the press, but I have been travelling quite a lot and I have to deal with domestic issues,” the President said in response to a question on the issue posed by the GPA President.
“I am asking the media to be tolerant. My heart is in the right place, but right now, I have had a really difficult period of public engagements and overseas travel.
“In fact even last year, I missed a few CARICOM appointments to be able to stay at home to pay more attention to domestic issues,” Granger said before he was hurried away for a photo opportunity.
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