Nov 26, 2020 Editorial
Kaieteur News – The recent land scandal featuring James Bond – a prominent current member, former Parliamentarian and former party executive of the People’s National Congress – is from all observations the outer fringes of a web of public corruption, enmeshing oil industry players both major and minor, local middlemen, government employees both former and current, and several others whose identities are yet to be revealed.
While this paper, and others, have recently liked former President and current PNC leader, David Granger to his current American counterpart Donald Trump, with both septuagenarian gentlemen having engaged in asinine and macabre postures of defiance of the will of their respective peoples after having lost a first term election, there is another US president that the recent scandals link Granger to – Richard Nixon.
In their book, ‘All the President’s Men,’ detailing their investigative reporting work that eventually forced Nixon to resign, Washington Post’s journalists Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, showed how the burglary at the Watergate Hotel and the subsequent conspiracy to cover up the crime unraveled a thread that went straight to the heart of the Nixon administration.
The key difference is that while Tricky Dicky had an aggressive PR pushback for troublesome news during his presidency, Mr. Granger, as President, employed a very effective – if cowardly – method of avoiding public questions: he simply ignored the media or any other form of open public questioning. By that method, he has avoided direct commentary on the corruption scandals which gripped his campaign from early on, from the unilateral and immediate salary increase, to the Exxon US $18 million signing bonus, to the Larry Singh drug bond rental, to Durban Park.
For its part, the media has adopted a sort of Douglas Adams logic to holding him accountable; if he refused to make himself available for public comment, then perhaps he was not obligated to comment. This practice of press avoidance has been transitioned into his post-presidential life with the PNC getting rid of press conferences altogether, and Granger not featuring in any of the party, or the Coalition’s, verbose pronouncements on every conceivable issue, except of course corruption under its tenure.
This is interesting considering that he is personally directly in charge of the political opposition in Guyana. He is the Leader, the highest functionary of the PNC, and of the now practically defunct APNU. He is the primary player in the admittedly nebulous APNU+AFC coalition, and, finally, as leader of the list that went into the 2020 elections, he has control over the entire APNU+AFC list of parliamentarians. Despite having run from the public responsibility of a Parliamentary seat and the embarrassment of losing a previously historic incumbency, he is nonetheless in charge of a significant political machinery from wherever he is currently holed up and hiding.
To be clear, it is that political machinery headed by David Granger that is at the center of the spider web of corruption currently being exposed in the land giveaways, both at Ogle and at Peter’s Hall and elsewhere. Look at every single significant hustler behind the graft and you will find a Granger party apparatchik or political appointee, all the President’s men conspiring to defraud the state of valuable assets. It is his right hand, Joseph Harmon, that is listed as being part of trio (that included another two of his appointees, Horace James and Colvin Heath-London) that changed a critical element of NICIL’s standard operating procedure that allowed a prominent member of his party, Bond, to benefit more than $1 million US from flipping valuable state lands at Peter’s Hall. It is his Finance Minister, Winston Jordan that signed off on vesting lands at Ogle, after an election that he had lost, to persons who did not even pay for the lands. And it is, as is covered in the story in today’s issue of this paper, the National Sports Commission, led by party executive, now Opposition Chief Whip, Christopher Jones, under his administration that was involved in the transfer of lands to a private businessman. Many of these corrupt transactions involve state lands, lands which by law come under the Presidency, a position occupied at the time of the transactions by David Granger – it is only under his direct instruction that these transactions could have been completed. As usual, when comment was sought from Granger on these issues, he could not be made contact with – he remains, as he did for much of his presidency, in hiding.
When we consider the timeline of all the developments with these corrupt deals, how they coincided not only with legal challenges to the No Confidence Motion but also with Granger’s indecent refusal to concede after clearly losing the elections in March of this year, it becomes increasingly clear that the obstinate insanity with which his administration governed was less about political entitlement and more about shielding and facilitating corruption. What many might have attributed to self-righteous delusion (“I have done nothing wrong. I have always abided by the Constitution”) is now better understandable as just basic graft, and the protection of it. Even Nixon eventually regained some level of credibility by being man enough to face his mistakes – no one would be faulted for expecting differently in Granger’s case.
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