To the surprise of absolutely not a single soul, the AFC came out swinging in defence of their General Secretary David Patterson. He, of course, was condemned for receiving (as “gifts”) from MARAD, Guyana Civil Aviation Authority, Demerara Harbour Bridge and CJIA – all with the Government’s money and all controlled by his Public Infrastructure Ministry. Not to regurgitate the sordid details, the AFC had to be aware that the “gifts” weren’t just the $15,000 perfume, but were very pricey bling worth $504,000 (gold bracelet), $700,000 and $300,000; and beds and other bedroom furniture worth over $6.4 million!! Patterson wasn’t stingy with the taxpayers of Guyana’s money, as junior Minister Annette Ferguson also shared in some of the loot.
So, what’s the AFC really telling us? That the 50% salary increase Harmon had announced to discourage corruption as soon as the coalition took office wasn’t enough? That the ostentatiously announced “Code of Conduct” announced by their co-Leader Raphael Trotman – which their Executive (including Patterson) must’ve helped draft – which addressed “gifts”, wasn’t enough to guide Patterson? After all, Article 3 of that Code prohibits public officials from accepting “any gift, benefit or advantage from anyone, [except] personal gifts from a relative or friend”.
Do the AFC and Patterson think gifts bought with taxpayers’ money are exempted?
Well, the AFC insisted that Patterson was a man of “integrity”, skirted around those (inconvenient) issues, and launched several defenses. Firstly, they insisted it’s the Permanent Secretary of a Ministry who’s “responsible for its financial management”. In throwing the PS under the bus, the AFC is telling us that while Ministers (like Patterson and Ferguson) knew that the gifts were being paid for by their Ministry, they felt it was okay just because they weren’t responsible for finances! Talk about sophistry! Or sleaziness!
But the AFC’s final defensive manoeuvre takes the cake; this is the Shaggy defence: “Wasn’t (only) me!!” Yep! That’s right!!
But we know the real reason for the AFC’s rallying around Patterson, don’t we? This looting of the public treasury by Ministers and their flunkeys was rampant during the APNU/AFC’s “governance”, between 2015 and 2020.
They were all collecting “gifts”! No wonder they fought so hard to justify the rigging. Remember those Russian spies?
They didn’t want the bling and beds to stop flowing!
…so, let the cat guard the milk?
Now, if it was just the looting of the treasury, one could’ve said, “Let the law take its course”. That is, let Patterson and Ferguson be charged for corruption, like Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu was in late 2019, after he accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of champagne and cigars from friends, and the money wasn’t even from their treasury!!
But, in the meantime, we have the not-so-inconsequential matter of Patterson heading the Public Accounts Committee (PAC). As we should all know by now, this is one of the fundamental institutions in parliamentary democratic governance which allow the Opposition (who always selects the Chair) to keep the Government on the straight and narrow.
Your Eyewitness has a question for the AFC: Why would they want to have a tainted fella like Patterson checking up on possible PPP shenanigans?
Is their justification that “it takes a thief to catch a thief”?
PNCites are criticising Granger for keeping a low profile. Why’d they want the man to have to answer why he signed the elections petition affidavit “Sept 25”, when the lawyers insist it was “Sept 18”?
To admit he’s possibly senile?