Dear Mr. Editor,It’s alarming to see the negative attention Guyoil has been attracting during the past months. This company, one of the most profitable state-owned organizations, can’t seem to get its act together.Quick recap: April 12th, 2018; Kaieteur News reported that “GuyOil lets go of its Marketing and Sales Manager”. This termination was somewhat surprising, since Mr. Eric Whaul was not issued any warning letter/s, nor was he spoken to in relation to his performance.In fact he was often praised by the past Board for his performance, and was sent on several overseas outings to represent the company.A point to note is that the new Board of Directors still consists of four (4) of the seven (7) members from the previous Board, including two (2) Directors who have been on GuyOil’s Board for over twenty-five (25) and fifteen (15) years respectively.Moving forward to May 28th, 2018, Kaieteur News reported, “Guyoil’s Finance Manager resigns amid mult-millions wire transfer probe.”It’s anyone’s guess that the Board of Directors played a part in Mrs. Uma Joseph-Daniels tendering her resignation. It’s not my place to pronounce on Mrs. Daniels’s innocence or guilt, but this is not the first instance when GuyOil was targeted by cyber hackers.There was an unreported incident prior to this, when GuyOil paid monies into a hacker’s account. However, the company had managed to recover some of the monies, but the Finance Manager at the time was never reprimanded by previous management, or the Board. In fact, he was asked to stay on for an additional year after his retirement.In addition to the departure of the Marketing and Sales Manager and the Finance Manager, GuyOil has seen the resignation of at least five (5) senior managers within the last year (August, 2017 – present), and has had about three (3) acting CEOs during the past two (2) years. Further, the company has also seen one of its former directors ascending to the position of Corporate Services Manager, a position created only after a directive had been issued by the Board for a restructuring to be done.It is important to state that this director was still a functioning member of the Board when she was interviewed by her colleagues from the said Board and was offered this position. Where is the transparency in that?Additionally, the conditions set out in the job description for the post of Corporate Services Manager require that the incumbent must have “a post-graduate Degree in Management or Administration plus…….,” which this past director does not have. One needs to ask the question: Are positions being created for Board Directors at GuyOil, and were Eric Whaul and Uma Daniels sent home so as to make space for another director, or……?I would also like to bring to the attention of the readers that GuyOil has only recently undergone a multi-million-dollar restructuring exercise, which saw S.V. Jones and Associates being offered a contract to restructure the entire company.This restructuring came to an end after quite some time, and new job descriptions were created and approved by the Board. However, GuyOil continues to deviate from specific academic requirements outlined in these job descriptions. Presently, there are at least five (5) officers who are acting in senior managerial positions, and none has either the relevant academic requirements or experience as outlined in these job descriptions.Sad to say, but these officers don’t even have a two-(2)-year diploma, which is alarming, since there are hundreds of students graduating from the nation’s primer tertiary institution (University of Guyana) who can’t find suitable jobs, or are made to do odd jobs which are in no way connected to their academic backgrounds.How, then, is Guyana going to develop its skilled human resources if the leaders continue to put square pegs in round holes?Mr. Editor, I would like to state that the issues facing GuyOil extend far beyond what I’ve stated, and were birthed under the previous board, where certain directors were bent on meddling in the daily operations of the company. One director in particular would go around gossiping about managers with junior staff. She would also make it very clear that she is a politician, and she has connections with the “big ones”.Mr. Editor, I am still dumfounded as to how this particular individual was selected to sit on a state board, and how she continues to be a member of that board when — in my opinion and I’m sure in the opinion of others, including, but not limited to, her other colleagues — she is not “fit and proper” to be a director. How then can GuyOil progress with this lack of strategic thinking from the board and the appointment of individuals such as this director?It’s my firm belief that some rogue elements who have been on GuyOil’s Board for decades, along with this director, who knows “big ones,” are the real problem that’s facing the company. With that said, I would advise the Honourable Minister of Finance to quickly replace these detractors, who sit on GuyOil’s Board waiting to collect their next I-Pad. Yes I-Pads; GuyOil, has twice purchased I-Pads for directors over the past two (2) years. Now, how many I-Pads does a director need to do his/her job?I learnt recently that a new Chief Executive Officer has been hired, and from all indications, she is a highly qualified and smart individual. I do hope that the rogue elements on the Board don’t try to stifle her and pollute her with their outdated strategies and ways of thinking.Regards,Ronley Kendall
The Canje Creek community of Baracara in Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne) has been named as this year’s honorary community for the African Cultural and Development Association (ACDA), as the cultural organisation hosts Emancipation Day celebrations on August 1.Baracara is a small village along the banks of the Canje River, and has at its roots a history passed down in the folklore of its residents over the years which points to it being a community which originated as a refuge for Guyanese Maroons, or runaway slaves.The stories roll off the lips of the village elders of the findings of lead shots for muskets at the waterfront immediately in front of the school, to the passing down of folk medicine that over time has proven to be very effective. This community is now set to transition into a local government area administrated by a Neighbourhood Democratic Council, a project that is currently being undertaken by the Ministry of Communities.Baracara VillageWhile many of the villages honoured by ACDA under the spotlight of the Emancipation celebrations have a common history of being purchased by freed slaves, Baracara is said to have a deeper, more mysterious origin, which is passed down in oral history.The honouring of the riverine community comes as ACDA celebrates its 23rd anniversary this year and its 22nd Emancipation Day Festival at the National Park on Freedom Day, Monday, August 1.This is the second Emancipation celebration during the International Decade for People of African Descent (IDPAD), which commenced in January 2015 and will come to an end in December 2024.It is a special year as Guyana celebrates its 50th year of Independence. This year’s celebration will be held under the theme, “African Guyanese achievements in the year of our Jubilee”, with a sub theme, “Building Strong Families through Entrepreneurship”.According to ACDA, the themes have been chosen in recognition of the importance of youth knowing their history and the legacy of their ancestors.Honouring the African presence in GuyanaACDA also celebrates an African country annually since most Guyanese of African descent cannot trace their ancestral roots to a particular African nation. In choosing a particular African country to highlight every year, ACDA seeks to educate the young and old about African countries and to remind them that Africa has 54 countries and is not a single country like China or India or the United States.Traditionally, ACDA honours an African country at every Emancipation Festival by building an educational booth for that country. However this year, 2016, the focus will be placed on Guyana, in keeping with the Jubilee celebrations.“A country with a very rich African influence, history and culture, Guyana will be the centrepiece that ACDA will proudly showcase during the observance of this Emancipation, as we explore our glorious past,” ACDA said.ACDA said a number of activities have been planned for this year’s Emancipation Day Festival. The organisation said it tried every year to raise the bar on performances in the National Park by providing some of the best local, regional and international performing groups. This year, it said, will be no different.According to ACDA, “For the first time ever in 2013, we were able to bring performers from Africa via the USA and we have managed to continue to expand our international acts since then in our hope to foster the growth of professionalism and diversity within the Guyana performing arts field especially amongst our local groups. The aim is to bring something different every year to the festival which does not already exist in Guyana… The past three years we have brought a Nigerian mime, acrobats from Kenya, a juggler from Ethiopia and a ventriloquist amongst others, all talents that were fairly new to the Guyanese people.”This year, the organisation said it was seeking to expand on this by bringing to the National Park Jamaican reggae star Luciano, who has emerged as one of the most prominent singers in decades and the greatest hope for roots reggae’s survival in the digital dancehall era.
They have given themselves the acronym FUN, but when they met at several locations in Liberia’s southeast last week, members of the Farmers Union Network realized that they were faced not with matters of fun but with very serious challenges.The farmers took a realistic approach to the problems at hand. Rather than take a general approach to the issues, they realized it was better to hold their consultations in each of the five southeastern counties–Grand Gedeh, River Gee, Grand Kru, Maryland and Sinoe counties. The aim was to determine the problems specific to each. In the process, however, they discovered that the 500 or more southeastern farmers recruited to plant rice faced the same problems: the lack of follow-up on lowland prepared in each county for the rice project of the West African Agricultural Productivity Program; the 50 tons of seed rice that should have come from the Ministry of Agriculture and from OXFAM, the British-based NGO that helps farmers, among others; the lack of tools to execute the project; and the absence of sufficient agricultural extension agents in the entire sub-region.Our Farm Correspondent, Judoemue Kollie, who in Tuesday’s Daily Observer reported on the consultations in the five southeastern counties, quoted FUN president, the Rev. Robert Bimba, as saying that these farmers also lack agricultural loans, extension services and access to information. This has caused many of the farmers to abandon the lowlands where they were to engage in rice production and shift upland.In this one instance, we are playing not only with the southeast but with our staple, rice. Hasn’t this newspaper time and again over the years pleaded with the Agriculture Minister to extend its Extension Services to farmers throughout the country? At the onset of her second tenure as Agriculture Minister, Dr. Florence Chenoweth told this newspaper that hundreds of Ag extension agents were being trained at the Booker Washington Institute (BWI), at the Central Agricultural Research Institute (CARI) and elsewhere for deployment around the country.With few of them seen anywhere, it is seems that Minister misled the newspaper. During the Vision 2030 Consultations around the country, farmers throughout complained about the absence of Ag extension agents in their areas. Todee in particular, an extensive farming area in Montserrado County, complained that they had not seen an ag extension agent there in 15 years. But the Minister said it was “not true.”A Minister of government cannot afford to be deceptive in the performance of her duties–that is a recipe for trouble, especially in the vital area of farming, in which the vast majority of our people are engaged.Since the government has failed effectively to address the unemployment problem, and tens of thousands of our people, especially our youth, are unemployed, it seems to us imperative that our farmers are told the truth and adequately provided the tools and other resources they need to be successful.This newspaper has also for a long time urged the Agriculture Ministry to see as one of its most serious challenges the shepherding (steering) of our farmers out of subsistence farming and into the money economy. But it seems that nearly nine years of this administration we are just as further from that goal as we were during the pre-war years.Whether or not Florence Chenoweth realizes this, it is a serious indictment not only on her administration as Agriculture Minister, but also on that of her boss, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. We thought that people appointed to important public positions would do their utmost to help their President accomplish critical national goals, even if this President has the penchant (inclination) to protect and even retain non-performing officials in her administration.This newspaper has frequently asked who can afford to ignore the southeast, already for decades one of the country’s most neglected regions? But the more we have written, the more we, too, have been ignored. The Agriculture Minister is on record as saying she does not even “read the tabloids anymore.” A tabloid is a newspaper that turns everything into a scandal, NEVER looking at the positive side of anything. Believe it or not, she casts the Daily Observer in that category!Well, that is what is being said TODAY. But we all work not for today, but for tomorrow, for the future. When Agriculture Minister Florence Chenoweth is no longer on the stage, how will the Liberian people remember her, or the administration she served?Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) has provided support to the 15 counties in the fight against the deadly disease and for the decentralization process in Liberia.Speaking last Friday at the official presentation of the items at the Internal Affairs Ministry in Monrovia, Dr. Kamil Kamaluddeen, Country Director of UNDP said he was pleased to turn over some of the items requested by the various counties that would help in containing and breaking the transmission of the Ebola disease.The UNDP, through the Internal Affairs Ministry, has provided motorbikes, mattresses, anti-Ebola buckets, mega phones, generators, T-shirts, printers and fliers, among others, to the 15 counties in support of the fight against the deadly Ebola virus.The Country Director explained that the items are in line with requests made by the Superintendents on the basis of their respective needs in the fight against the Ebola disease.“This will help the various counties to respond rapidly when the need arises. When each county is given a task and empowered, it will help greatly in the decentralization of Liberia.”Dr. Kamil Kamaluddeen said, “Some requested for more than 3 motorbikes, generators for Ebola treatment units, T-shirts with the inscription, “Ebola is real,” mattresses for ETUs and others. The value of the donated items is approximately US$450,000, he said.The UNDP boss assured the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the people of Liberia of the UNDP’s commitment to the country’s decentralization process and to the fight against the Ebola virus.He explained that fighting Ebola is not a battle that Liberian and partners can win in the hospitals only, but by the contributions of everyone, including the community dwellers in the various counties. Minister Dukuly described the UNDP support to the various counties as a total manifestation of decentralization of Liberia, which allows each county to perform its own tasks at the local level.Decentralization is not having workshops but rather, local capacity building and enabling the people to take ownership in the development of their county, said Minister Dukuly.“We cannot achieve decentralization with workshops. It is sustained over time with the ability to have people understand fiscal affairs and decentralization,” he explained.He continued, “This is not about the physical decentralization as important as it is, or political decentralization because everyone wants election, everyone wants a county superintendent position. Decentralization is about the people taking ownership of their lives, of their governance. It involves people taking ownership and being proud of what they can do to enhance their status,” he declared.Witnessing the ceremony were, Chief Zanzan Kawah, Head of the Traditional Council of Liberia, Deputy Minister, Varney A. Sirleaf, County Superintendents and other government officials from the Justice and Internal Affairs Ministries.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
A report released today by UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund together with the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM), the World Health Organization (WHO) and partners reveals that major deficits in the midwifery workforce occur in 73 countries where these services are most desperately needed. The report recommends new strategies to address these deficits and save millions of lives of women and newborns.The 73 African, Asian and Latin American countries represented in the State of the World’s Midwifery 2014: A Universal Pathway – A Woman’s Right to Health suffer 96 percent of the global burden of maternal deaths, 91 percent of stillbirths and 93 percent of newborn deaths, but have only 42 percent of the world’s midwives, nurses and doctors. The report urges countries to invest in midwifery education and training to contribute to closing the glaring gaps that exist. Investments in midwifery education and training at agreed international standards can yield – as a study from Bangladesh shows – a 1,600 percent return on investment.”Midwives make enormous contributions to the health of mothers and newborns and the well-being of entire communities. Access to quality health care is a basic human right. Greater investment in midwifery is key to making this right a reality for women everywhere,” said Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, UNFPA Executive Director.Midwives have a crucial role to play in the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) 4 (decrease child death) and 5 (increase maternal health). When educated to international standards and within a fully functional health system, they can provide about 90 percent of the essential care to women and newborns and can potentially reduce maternal and newborn deaths by two thirds. Despite a steady decline in maternal deaths in the 73 countries that are covered in the report – dropping yearly by 3 percent since 1990 – and newborn deaths – decreasing by 1.9 percent per year since 1990 – there is more these countries need to do to address the severe shortage of midwifery care.“Midwives are central to midwifery care and the lives of women and newborn babies. The report precedes the Lancet Special Series on Midwifery, which together with the report will provide the evidence to guide all policy-makers in their quest to end preventable maternal and newborn deaths,” said ICM President Frances Day-Stirk.The report, launched at the 30th ICM Triennial Congress in Prague, Czech Republic highlights the progress made since the inaugural 2011 report and solutions to the barriers outlined in four key areas: availability, accessibility, acceptability and quality of midwifery services: A number of countries have effectively strengthened midwifery and improved access: Nearly half (45 percent) of the 73 countries have implemented measures to retain midwives in remote areas and 28 percent are increasing the recruitment and deployment of midwives, while 20 percent have implemented new codes of practice and 71 percent have improved information collection enabling countries to address shortages and education standards.Despite progress, inequities such as lack of access to services and poverty have increased within and among countries. There are still not enough adequately educated midwives to support the health of women and newborns, and this contributes to hundreds of thousands of preventable deaths annually.Today, only 22 percent of countries have potentially enough midwives to provide life-saving interventions to meet the needs of women and newborns, which leaves over three-fourths (78 percent) of the countries with severe shortages in proper care. As the population grows, so does the gap in critical resources and infrastructure, unless urgent action is taken.The 2014 report includes recommendations to close these gaps and to ensure all women have access to sexual, reproductive, maternal and newborn services. These includes issues such as preventive and supportive care from a collaborative midwifery team, immediate access to emergency services when needed, and completing post-secondary education. From a broader perspective, women should delay marriage, have access to healthy nutrition and receive four pre-birth care visits.“This report, like the Every Newborn Action Plan recently adopted by the World Health Assembly, sets a clear way forward. Both aim to encourage governments to allocate adequate resources for maternal and newborn health services within national health sector plans. This should include funds for the education and retention of midwives. We will continue to support countries to develop and strengthen their midwifery services as a critical intervention to save the lives of women and newborns,” said Dr. Flavia Bustreo, WHO Assistant Director-General for Family, Women’s and Children’s Health.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)