The outgoing Chairperson of the Board of Directors of the Guyana National Newspapers Limited (GNNL), publisher of the Guyana Chronicle state newspaper, Geeta Chandan-Edmond Tuesday evening insisted to Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo that a vote was taken to fire just reinstated Sherod Duncan from the post of General Manager.
She said the evidence in the files show that she cast her deciding vote to dismiss Duncan after State auditors frowned on his spending patterns and violation of internal controls. Records, according to Chandan-Edmond, would also prove the Prime Minister wrong because the board minutes were adopted.
“I exercised my right to execute a casting vote, in keeping with provision 94 as was recorded in and verified in the minutes of the proceedings. Additionally, I wish to state that I rely on my report to you into this matter… and reiterate, that the process was fair and transparent, there was due process and all principles of natural justices were adhered to,” the former Magistrate told the Prime Minister.
Chandan-Edmond also provided copies of the meetings and the subsequent meeting minutes that were adopted, in a clear attempt to respond to the Prime Minister’s accusations that she had misled him. The two-time Board Chairperson expressed disgust at the Prime Minister’s direct interference in the work of the board by rescinding their decision to dismiss Duncan, a well-known member of the Alliance For Change (AFC). She accused the Prime Minister of relying on hearsay instead of the facts in the files.
“Your correspondence sought to discredit this process by making reference to information bordering on hearsay from persons you refer to merely as ‘Directors of GNNL’ with no absolutely no reference to who those directors are and no record of their submissions in this regard. I respectfully submit, that we cannot effect policy decision at this institution of national consequence on such an inconsequential basis,” said Chandan-Edmond who works in the secretariat of the Ministry of the Presidency’s Director-General.
She took issue with the Prime Minister telling her that Duncan’s dismissal was “arbitrary, capricious, unlawful and in excess of the jurisdiction of the Board.” I respectfully submit that this characterization is not only insulting and injurious to the integrity of yours truly and the other directors who would have similarly voted for Mr. Duncan’s dismissal but is not reflective of the reality of the process,” she said.
The Board Chairperson stopped short of telling Nagamootoo that he wanted her to act unethically. “When I accepted the position of Chair of the Board of Directors of Guyana National Newspapers Limited, it was with the understanding that my professionalism and integrity would not be unfairly assailed. I find that your letter not only calls into question my professionalism but the professionalism of fellow members of the Board of GNNL. In light of this, I hereby submit my resignation as Chairperson of the Board of Directors, with immediate effect, since I believe I cannot continue to act at the level of ethics that you clearly require of the position,” she said.
Mervyn Willams, another member of the Board, has also resigned in protest over the Prime Minister’s instruction that Duncan’s termination be rescinded.