There is definitely a sinister motive by some to discredit the soundness of Mr Hopkinson’s approach to managing the administration of Region 2. With local government elections due in 2018, individuals from certain parties are seeking to gain mileage as a means of promoting their own agendas, hence the calculated attack on the REO is no coincidence. Mr Hopkinson’s leadership has exceeded the ideals of a Region that has long been plagued by political manipulation. Previous managers were compelled in many instances to act in contravention of the public service rules, some of which were oppressive and unsound. Some policies were implemented previously that sought to stifle the upward mobility of staff; others were bypassed for promotions, while the right to freedom of expression was not respected in many cases.
There were those who were highly favoured which severely affected the morale of a wide cross-section of staff since their efforts were not recognized.
However, after assuming office and since he was highly qualified, Mr Hopkinson took a unique approach in managing the resources of the Region. He has consistently withstood political pressure, intimidation and even non-cooperation from certain sections of the Regional Democratic Council which comprises PPP/C, APNU and AFC councillors. Statutory meetings are often designed to attack Mr Hopkinson and derail his efforts at stamping out corruption and the abuse of state property; sanctioning those with a poor work ethic or enhancing the environment as he has been doing, much to the satisfaction of residents. Why would those politically inspired denounce the creation of community parks that are designed to promote unity and leisure for kids, among other social activities? Instead, there is a huge cry that it is a waste of time. What will become of our citizens if they embrace all work and no play? The signs remain very worrying as these relate to suicide, and certainly having a space to relax can reduce such things.
The decision to plant trees and beautify the township was also criticized by the political detractors, even in the wake of glowing praise from visitors who have now seen the Region as a serious tourist attraction. This growing trend therefore to express negative sentiments will not advance the social and economic development of Region 2. Reference is also made to mounting allegations that the REO is withholding payment to contractors for work done on the Charity road-shoulders in December, 2016. This particular payment was refused after it was queried by the Regional sub-treasury when it was found to be duplication, since monies had been paid for the same work previously. Mr Hopkinson refused to endorse the payment too since the contract was prepared, signed and passed in his absence.
This is only one of many contracts and vouchers that Mr Hopkinson has refused to endorse given his stance of denouncing corruption. Mr Hopkinson has been very meticulous and has spent sleepless nights checking them before he affixes his signature. Is it not unreasonable to criticize the REO and label him incompetent? Instead Mr Hopkinson has saved this Region millions due to the detection of inflated vouchers and contracts, and undocumented and unnecessary spending, as well as the lethargic manner in which accountability has been questioned. In fact in 2016 according to the Regional Accounting Unit’s statistics, the Region saved $147 million, and in 2017 to date it is $93 million, which seems to cause uneasiness among his detractors. Certainly it is not business as usual at the office, and there has been resistance in some quarters to the changes that are being implemented. Region 2 is steadfastly being transformed and this is due to Mr Hopkinson’s strategic management approach and his wide and productive engagement with the public. Perhaps the RDC could identify the initiatives that were undertaken by the council which have positively impacted on the Region in comparison.