It’s hard to say that the selection process was erratic; naïve maybe, but hardly erratic.
This Noel Blackman had, apparently, made an early reconnaissance of the vulnerability of Guyana’s selection process and through a series of tactical political maneuvers and business ventures he positioned himself and waited for the dividends to pay off.
In all fairness, I had never heard of him. I had never heard of Hoyte Blackman Television, either. I didn’t even know that a Noel Blackman was selected to be the Chairman of Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation.
But the news of a jet taxiing down the runway at JFK International Airport, then being lassoed (hyperbole) by the FBI to extract a drug dealer headed for Guyana has all sorts of people calling you to find out if you heard about the incident.
It’s awkward to have to defend yourself by reminding people that you don’t know every Guyanese. It’s like the cluster association made by many about ethnicity and the assigning of guilt by the process of osmosis. Like I said to one West Indian friend who called to tease me about the incident, then I am a doctor too, if just being Guyanese makes me a dope dealer like this goodly manager of pain by dependency.
All jokes aside, though, I was wondering what was the process involved in selecting Dr. Blackman to be Chairman, no less, of the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation. It’s not hard to imagine that he had developed some friendships over the decades he was doing business with Guyana and often times, it’s friendship that ushers in consideration for appointment.
Sometimes it goes well beyond that. We saw many instances of that in the last Administration.
Who can forget the years of Carol Sooba, grossly unqualified and crassly representative of what public service should look like or the use of Dr. Leslie Ramsammy , the holder of a Public Health degree to direct Agriculture and the flow of water during the Mahaica, Mahaicony Abary drought problem. And better still, who can ever forget the use of the Surrendra Engineering company, that milked tax payers for work yet to be started.
Though they all have specifics in common, these people were not selected for their particular skill set.
But getting back to the obvious lack of vetting Dr. Blackman, whose moniker I loathe to mention since it sullies the profession.
Noel Blackman was not properly screened even though he was not a resident Guyanese. He was taken at face value and the face they knew was not the one that told the whole story. They weren’t shown the face that employed a secretary to fly in to Guyana with hundreds of prescriptions for him to sign to dispense thousands of narcotic pills. They didn’t see the face that saw one hundred patients per day, each for six minutes at a cost of $300.00 per visit. They didn’t see that face.
And this has now opened the door to scathing, uncomplimentary commentary about people in the Diaspora.
Let me say, unequivocally and with clarity that most of us who emigrate, do so to find opportunities we could not find in our homeland. Many of us, as immigrants, have worked several jobs simultaneously, have put ourselves through several levels of college while pregnant and working multiple jobs. Many of us have legitimate employment and businesses and raise families within the boundaries of the values and ethics that were instilled in us by our Guyanese parents. We have professions that have been hard won because we worked for what we have earned.
To, therefore, ascribe the errancy of the dope dealing doctor to every Guyanese expatriate is wrong. To make his criminality the albatross of the Diaspora is malevolent. To suggest that the invitation for Diaspora Engagement should be pulled is myopic. To see this shameful turn of events as a blow to the Granger Administration is counterproductive, regressive and sheer rancor.
Most Guyanese in the Diaspora are contributors to the social fabric of their communities and possess the necessary skills needed to fast track Guyana in to the future. They remain that economic force that makes positive impact on the country’s economy. That doesn’t dissolve with the missteps of one.
The Noel Blackman’s are a subset of who we are.
Don’t make us guilty by geography.