Dr. Vincent Adams, the Head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), was more than a decent cricketer. He could at times be a dogged customer and fought stubbornly to protect his wicket.
But that was in cricket. When it comes to his employment, he is not indispensable. And no amount of cheerleading from the stands is going to ensure that he remains at the crease.
A lot of prominent persons and groups have come out in defence of Dr. Adams. They are protesting the decision of the PPP/C administration to send him on leave. But one has to ask whether all this commotion would have taken place if it was a less important person or someone who is not part of the middle class.
Dr. Adams had been appointed to the top post within the EPA. He was given the nod even though there was a young man who was acting in the post and who would have had a reasonable expectation to be confirmed. Not one letter was ever written in the media protesting the bypassing of this young man in preference to a retiree whose qualifications and experience are more relevant to the oil and gas sector.
Dr. Adams has not been dismissed nor has his services been terminated. He has been merely asked to proceed on his leave. Indications, however, suggest that when his leave is exhausted he will not be returning to the EPA. Speculation is that he is likely to be engaged in a professional capacity in the oil and gas sector where his expertise lies. He therefore will still have a job and his services are likely to be utilized where they are better suited.
The APNU+AFC raised eyebrows when it appointed an energy specialist, Dr. Adams, as the head of the EPA, and an environmentalist as the head of the Energy Department. The roles should have been reversed. But APNU+AFC moved in strange and mysterious ways.
Another of its still to be solved mysteries was its decision to create an extra layer of bureaucracy and to plant it atop the environmental agencies. The government had a Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment. It said the two were not compatible and so it created a Department of Environment and placed it atop of the Wildlife Protection Agency, the National Parks Commission and the EPA.
Dr. Adams therefore was not his own boss. He was supposed to report to the Director of the Department of the Environment. He is more qualified and experienced than that person. But that is another one of the APNU+AFC’s mysterious decisions.
The PPP/C administration has not yet gotten around to removing that albatross which sits atop the environmental agencies. If there is any department which ought to have been immediately dissolved, it is the Department of the Environment. It is not needed; it is an extra layer of fat which needs to be carved off.
Dr. Adams is a contract employee. He therefore does not have an expectation to security of tenure. This is the risk which most contract employees face and which they know about. Their services can be terminated with or without notice.
There are other considerations. If you are part of a party List contesting the elections, you are expected to resign. Dr. Adams was not part of any list but it is being suggested that he is part of certain leadership rungs of a political party. That should not disqualify him from being retained but if he had spoken on a political platform during the campaign, he should resign.
If, however, he merely attended political meetings or expressed his support for any political party, this should not be automatic grounds to force his resignation either before or after the elections. But speaking on a campaign platform does. There is no evidence that Dr. Adams spoke on any campaign platform and therefore there is no reason why he should resign.
The most fundamental factor, however, is that once you are a contract employee and the government is not comfortable with you, they can let you go. If the government feels that because of Dr. Adams’ political affiliation, they will not be comfortable with him, it is within their rights to let him go. Why would anyone want their competitor running their business?
It has been argued that the removal of the 70 year-old Dr. Adams will affect ongoing negotiations which the EPA has with ExxonMobil. Well, this is saying that the man is indispensable, at least at this time. But no man is or should be made indispensable even though some men and women are hard to replace.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper.)
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