I believe the two presidents that were good at humorous repartee were Burnham and Jagdeo. Burnham’s ability in this regard vastly exceeds Jagdeo’s. It had to do with his legal training.
When President Granger was asked if the High Court stops house-to-house registration if his government would appeal, this is what he told the reporters, “I’ve said what I’ve said.”
My guess is that Burnham with a cynical quirk would have said something funny about the Court of Appeal. Jagdeo with a broad smile would have said, “Who says we will lose?” I don’t believe Hoyte, Cheddi and Janet Jagan and Ramotar were ever so curt with the press.
My opinion is that of all the presidents we have had, Granger was less experienced in political nuances. Guyana is such a complex, esoteric polity that prior exposure of political office is a gold mine.
He was opposition leader for four years but whereas Jagdeo was unknown in the leadership of the PPP, he gained valuable experience about what governmental power was like and its complex dimensions because he was special assistant to Finance Minister, Asgar Ally.
He was then junior Finance Minister, then Finance Minister. When he inherited the presidency, he had seven years of experience in the corridors of power. Granger missed serving in Government before he became president and that crucial lack of exposure shows up constantly.
It has not been one calendar year from the CCJ decisions on GECOM chairmanship and the no-confidence motion (NCM) yet within that short period Granger made some huge mistakes, two of which occurred within three days recently.
Some of these serious imbroglios include openly declaring to the Guyanese people that he would like the CCJ to explain how he acted unconstitutionally in appointing the GECOM Chairman.
Obviously, Granger was telling the nation he didn’t understand the Chairman of the CCJ. The Chairman’s explanation was quite simple. But more importantly, why would the CCJ judges explain their decision because a litigant wants them to.
Granger had to know that is not the way any judge in the world will act. That is the litigant’s lawyer’s role. The decision by the CCJ was that Article 161 of the constitution does not allow the president to choose a GECM Chairman on his own because the selection has to be situated within the Carter formula whereby consultation has to occur between the Opposition Leader and the President.
Next, President Granger summoned the diplomatic community to inform them that based on what the CCJ chairman said in the ruling on Granger’s unilateral appointment of Justice Patterson, he Granger, can select a group of six names just like the Opposition Leader and make an appointment from his own list.
This was going too far and Granger went that far. It meant that the CCJ had amended the constitution to allow Granger to do that. In the end, he backed down, adhered to Article 161 and chose Jagdeo’s nominee of Claudette Singh.
In the second half of last year, Mr. Granger insisted with firmness that he has the constitutional right to name a Prime Minister and he will do just that and will not allow someone else to do his job for him.
One day in January this year, speaking to reporters at about 10 AM, he repeated his position. Then the AFC made its move and called Granger’s bluff. By 6PM the same day, Granger told a rally at Hopetown that he chose Ramjattan to be his PM candidate.
It was a show of weakness that past PNC presidents would never have succumbed to.
Within the last four days, Mr Granger journeyed on two impassible roadways. He reminded the nation that the constitution gives him the right to abrogate the citizenship of a Guyanese by birth if such a citizen has dual nationality.
Why in the midst of national election campaign would he want to utter such a remark that was bound to raise eyebrows? It is not the right thing to say when you are appealing to voters.
It has two sordid dimensions. One is that it brings into focus the almost unlimited power of the president that the constitution embodies. Secondly, the statement has an authoritarian ring to it.
Stripping a Guyanese of his/her citizenship has to involve a horrible act of treason. Demerara Waves suggested that Granger has Charran in mind to prevent him from voting on March 2. But Charran’s NCM vote was not illegal. The CCJ did not invalidate his vote in the NCM.
Secondly, Granger’s statement on marijuana smoking in Linden last Sunday was better left unsaid. That will be the subject of another column.
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