The Constitution of this country clearly sets out and protects The Fundamental Rights and Freedoms of Individual. Under it a number of commissions are established to discharge their responsibilities on the behalf of the people. These commissions together with the Office of the President, as the nation’s chief office, have clear responsibilities when it comes to citizens’ rights. As such whomsoever holds the Office is sworn to uphold the constitution and in so doing has a responsibility to protect the rights and freedoms of every citizen, which means that the office holder shall not discriminate in favour of, or against any citizen.
We have reached another nadir in this nation where we are witnessing the President’s escalation of verbal attacks on persons critical of his administration which also includes an assault on persons’ relevance in society because of their age even as the President is fully aware that such conduct smacks at ageism, i.e., discriminating against someone based on age. These careless statements open the door and give justification to discrimination and counter discrimination in society. For instance, it opens the door to intensify and justify public intolerance, disrespect and ill treatment of persons considered relatively older. It tells those who are older than the president and sit in his inner cabinet and at Freedom House how he sees them. It also opens the President to similar treatment by the majority of the population who he is relatively older than. Older workers will also think it is acceptable to keep younger workers out of the workforce because of the lack of proven experience. In like manner, it also opens the door for society to discriminate in favour of men when a woman can equally perform the job. The snowballing effect will do this society more harm than good.
While the President enjoys certain constitutional protection by virtue of his office, this protection does not extend to violating the people’s constitutional rights. Citizens are reminded that Article 94 of the Constitution says “The President may be removed from office if he commits any violation of this Constitution or any gross misconduct.” The procedure for his removal is prescribed by Article 180.
The interests of the nation is best served were the President to deal with issues on their merit, rather than attacking persons for exercising their right to ask questions about, or be critical of, his management of the nation’s affairs and the utilization of their tax dollars. As Chief Public Servant, President Jagdeo also carries the responsibility of Chief Leader. In this regard his role also includes the protection and advocacy of the principles in the constitution and setting the trend for civil relations. It is this office people generally take their cue from and look up to and which usually sets the tone for social interaction as it guides the nation in the realization of its potential.
As such the hostility, intolerance and disrespect for the people, including carrying them to the ERC and suing them in order to silence them, are not only unprecedented but also unbecoming and unacceptable. This constant abuse of the citizens by the Chief Public Servant is unhealthy, unconstitutional and must stop.
The people’s resources should not be used to attack, denigrate and discriminate against them; rather these resources are put at the President’s disposal to ensure the betterment of all in an environment where all are respected.
The nation is reminded that President Jagdeo is the country’s chief public servant. Under the Constitution and laws he presides over the country’s governance. He has no constitutional right to treat the people as he likes. As a public servant his is the responsibility to serve the interests of all the people and his conduct and behaviour are equally subjected to the approval or criticism of the people who pay his salary and sustain the office he holds. He is therefore answerable to the people and not above the people.