May 03, 2022 Editorial
Kaieteur News – Sometimes it is better to be sensible with what we say, how we address crucial matters, like the urgency for an independent, trusted, operational, and vigilant Petroleum Commission. Guyana’s Vice President, Bharrat Jagdeo does and should know better about the significant utility of an ethical and functional Petroleum Commission. When he said, “So a Petroleum Commission is not a safeguard against corruption. It is utter nonsense (to believe that it is)” [KN April 30], he made himself look less than mature, bankrupt of commonsense, anaemic in intellect.
We agree with the Vice President that supposedly independent Petroleum Commissions in other countries did not prevent costly corruptions. Still, the Vice President has to know the whole array of positives that a truly independent, completely principled, Petroleum Commission could mean to Guyana. He must know that it is better for Guyana to have one of such standing than not to have one, to justify the foot-dragging and stonewalling that he engages in on its presence.
Definitely, it is not a guarantee of all the positives associated with such a body, any group of men and women. By the same token, such a commission may not be the most robust of safeguards that was envisioned, but it would be a safeguard of some merit, possibly considerable, as long as it is built with the right people.
To get a Petroleum Commission that, prioritises standing consistently and vigilantly for what is best for Guyana, requires doing something that is sure to cause Vice President Jagdeo the greatest difficulty, since he is not too inclined to conduct the business of this country by this standard. It must have the right people deliberating and determining what is right for Guyana, within the scope of its authority. The right people mean those Guyanese of integrity, who won’t stand for any nonsense from governing political leaders and their empowered agents. The right people on such a commission would be people who are fearless and frank to the point of being outspoken, regardless of which leaders may be inconvenienced or angry at the outcomes from them. Given his past handpicked selections for sensitive appointments, it is clear that the Vice President is not familiar with many people of a principled nature.
But when there are people of such calibre on a Petroleum Commission, it is a viable entity that will not be pushed around, one that will not wilt before the self-serving commands of leaders who put them there. Because of this, Vice President Jagdeo may be right, and on to something, that is still to take form before citizens. For when he says that a Petroleum Commission may not be the kind of safeguard that Guyanese expect, it could be he has in mind people who will respond to his bidding, and bow before his wishes. Obviously, in such circumstances, there is no safeguard, but only a pretense of one. Given what has occurred in similar situations involving other state agencies and national commissions, Guyanese should not be optimistic that the people who end up on a national Petroleum Commission will not amount to more of the same cleverness from the Vice President.
What is curious in all of this is that Vice President Jagdeo has compiled a revealing record of scorning international experts and ignoring the worrisome parallels of other countries with their oil. This publication has been tireless in presenting the messages, as to what we must learn from, and guard against, so that there is no repetition in Guyana. Yet, there he was pointing to the precedents of other countries that did wrong with their oil, and lost heavily from corrupt practices. It is how he cherry picks conveniently what serves his arguments and purposes, but which he ignores or dismisses when such do not.
This is not how a true leader operates, but of someone who is remarkably cunning. He could spew and rant, but he knows, we know, and all Guyana knows that a Petroleum Commission with honourable patriots will safeguard us. When Vice President Jagdeo starts to objects, Guyanese know that he has his own objectives. In addition, when he balks, it is what talks for him and not in a clean way.
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