The continued presence of the embattled Dr. Steve Surujbally as the Chairman of Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) is very questionable and somewhat perturbing.
This is since his engagements at the Commission’s Office exclude addressing meetings of the appointed Commission per se, but other apparent undercurrents.
Although he has signaled his necessary resignation from this all-powerful office where he acted as though he was ‘Superman’, it came amidst unacceptable public credibility and massive corruption scandals. Given the level of massive public outcries, his current accommodation by Government continues to raise eyebrows.
Received credible information that he is putting in place genuine systems to cover the most brutal corruption that took place at that Office, during the time when he was at the helm at GECOM. Further, Surujbally is trying to extend the contract of GECOM Chief Executive Officer, Keith Lowenfield, and the GECOM Chief Account, Joseph Eastman.
There is sufficient information to confirm that both Lowenfield and Eastman played significant questionable roles in the many corrupt scandals, and are certainly, the most unwanted and notorious characters at the GECOM Office.
Hence Surujbally’s interventions in this respect and many other areas are unwarranted since he has resigned.
As Guyanese await the Auditor General’s Report regarding the infamous and most shameful/ thieving corruption that took place, and is currently still vigorous at the GECOM Office; we still see efforts to address related matters in a clandestine manner and contrary to known and acceptable principles and practices.
But these things cannot go unaccountable for too long, and the necessary corrective mechanisms will have be realized in whatever way.
Dr. Surujbally recently wrote in the press that he is leaving the Office of GECOM’s Chairman with a heavy heart. He said that after 15 years at the helm …“I have established a close linkage with the staff of GECOM many of whom have evolved into more than colleagues; rather they have become friends and in some cases, ‘family’ away from home”.
Regardless, however, the real issue is that questionable and sub-optimal performances have influenced the significant loss in credibility in the organization. On this, the Guyanese people cannot stand. Surujbally, therefore, although in his own words, must not only take full responsibility along with his Chief Executive Officer and the other staff members, but be held accountable in this respect.
Further, all who are guilty of serious fraud and corruption that took place, as well as the ones taking place at GECOM, must be sanctioned and removed from this critical institution.
It has been reported that hundreds of millions of taxpayers’ hard earn dollars was stolen from GECOM. The orchestrators utilized a massive contract manipulation racket, associated with links and fraudulent spending on false contracts and inventories. There were also consistently serious breaches of procurement procedures, for wasteful excesses and wanton spending with significant kickbacks. The fact when revealed would show that many items were purchased, at prices more than six times the average retail prices.
Leaked information suggests that the Auditors’ findings into the purchasing of high frequency radios, toners for printers, photocopiers and pliers/nippers are the most appalling. Additionally, there are many relevant and significant questions with respect to the highly questionable circumstances of how all these transactions took place.
Many further examples can be highlighted to justify the immediate riddance of the key players in attempt to cleanse the organization of unwanted negative influences. Another is the purchasing of Duracell batteries at prices six times the retail price is amazing and outright unacceptable.
More serious is the ordering of these batteries to the tune of $14, 529,000 days before the 2015 National and Regional Elections, demonstrates clandestine intent, and convenient use of the time.
Further, GECOM awarded a second contract to purchase the same Duracell batteries on May 21. It is alarming to know that after the elections were over, less than two weeks after this brazen thief ordered a further $9,180,518.
Heaven knows that GECOM paid $23,709,518 for simple Duracell batteries to operate simple lamps if needed on the night of the elections.
It is clear that GECOM paid for batteries which they never used.
There are scores of cases that the Auditors are looking at. However, GECOM and other Government sources have confirmed that findings will worry the administration and a number of sweeping adjustments will have to be made to this entity which is tasked with issuing National Identification Cards and overseeing General and Regional elections.
As for the corruption in hiring and recruiting staff for GECOM, it is abominable. It is clear that Surujbally is a man who Guyanese have little or no respect for, is leaving without answering for hundreds of millions of dollars that was stolen by the same people who he claims he love so much.
In one voice, Guyanese must oppose the thieves and call for their removal from GECOM.
Let us have the Local Government Commission now!