I never laid claim to be the holder of a first degree, Mr Alexander is wrong

Dear Editor, 

It is very sad that I am being forced to defend my integrity against attempts to vilify me in the public domain.  However, it becomes imperative that I respond to one aspect of the letter captioned “No basis for Jagdeo to conclude GECOM Chairman has been biased”, which was published in the Stabroek News of Sunday, June 17, 2018 in the name of Mr. Vincent Alexander, GECOM Commissioner. 

My response is specific to the comments of Mr. Alexander i.e. “I stand by my word and hereby restate emphatically that Vishnu Persaud`s candidacy was opposed by me on the grounds that the other candidate is superior, in addition to the fact that Vishnu was appointed as the PRO of GECOM when he was not qualified for the job. He was elevated to DCEO on the pretence of being the holder of a first degree, here again, he was appointed in a position for which he was not qualified. He himself, in the presence of the entire interviewing panel, admitted that he was not the holder of a first degree or its equivalent. That alone should have made him ineligible”. 

1.      I never applied to GECOM for the position of Public Relations Officer (PRO).  This position was offered to me by no less a person than the former Chair-man and approved by the Commission.  However, Mr. Alexander seem to be suggesting that some kind of skullduggery was involved in that appointment.  Is Mr. Alexander asserting that the former GECOM Chairman, and by extension the entire Commission was in some kind of collusion with me relative to my appointment to the position of PRO?  The position in which I served for 14 years while carrying other responsibilities outside of the scope of public relations?

 2.   Maybe Mr. Alexander can clarify whose “pretence” it was regarding me “being the holder of a first degree” when I first applied for the vacant position of DCEO.  In this regard I need to make it abundantly clear that I never laid claim, much less pretended, to be the holder of a first degree.  In fact, in my CV there is, and never was, any mention of me being the holder of a first degree.  I call on Mr. Alexander to get a copy of my then CV from the GECOM Human Resources Division and disseminate it to the media to prove his point.

 Anyone with internet access can visit https://www.stabroeknews.com/2014/

news/guyana/08/14/new-deputy-chief-election-officer-appointed/ and find that the last paragraph of the article publicly declares that “Persaud holds the Diploma in Public Relations from the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) and the Level 5 Certificate in Elections Management from the Chartered Management Institute (CMI), both in the United Kingdom”.  My qualifications were and continue to be public knowledge. 

3.  When I was interviewed for the position of DCEO in the first instance in 2014, the issue of me being in possession of a first degree or equivalent never arose.  I remember clearly that emphasis was placed by a Commissioner on my qualification in the area of elections management and the Institutions from which I got them on the grounds that he had researched the Organizations.  Again, my CV never reflected that I am the holder of a first degree or equivalent.  This is a non-issue.

 Mr. Alexander said in his letter that “he was appointed in a position for which he was not qualified” and goes on to posit that “He himself, in the presence of the entire interviewing panel, admitted that he was not the holder of a first degree or its equivalent”. 

In so doing, Mr. Alexander is giving the impression that my admission was given at the interview in 2014.  This is erroneous.   

But to deal with this incorrectness I need to make reference to a comment in the name of Vincent Alexander which is appended to my earlier letter that is published in the Stabroek News of Saturday, June 16, 2018. 

In that comment Mr. Alexander wrote that when “Mr Persaud was appointed as DCEO it was on the pretext that he was the holder of a first degree. I contested that then and it was maintained that his diploma was equivalent to a first degree hence my objection then was overruled. I specifically posed that question in the recent interview and he admitted it was not a first degree, hence he was never eligible to be appointed in the first instance. This fact is carefully skirted in his letter. My evidence remained unchallenged”. 

As I have already pointed out at 2 above, Mr. Alexander needs to clarify the term “pretext”.  I maintain that I never claimed to be the holder of a first degree or equivalent. 

Mr. Alexander, is saying that “it was maintained” that my Diploma (in Public Relations) was equivalent to a first degree, hence his objection. I have no idea what this is all about.  Simply put, this never happened.  In any case I would have been a unique kind of idiot to tell a man who was the Registrar of the University of Guyana that a Diploma is equivalent to a first degree. 

I was present at the Commission Meeting at which my candidacy for the position of DCEO was discussed.  There was no objection to my qualification from Mr. Alexander or anyone else at that Meeting.  In fact, my appointment was approved by four out of six Commissioners.  Since that represented a majority of the Members of the Commission, the Chairman was not required to vote on the matter. 

During my interview this time around, Mr. Alexander said that it was his recollection that someone had said, when I was interviewed in 2014, that I had qualifications equivalent to a first degree.  At that point he asked me if the Level 5 Certificate is equivalent to a first degree and I replied in the negative.  My response has been twisted to say that I admitted it was not a first degree.  I never represented any of my qualifications to be equivalent to a first degree.

 The impression is given that I deliberately “skirted” the issue of my eligibility for appointment to the position of DCEO in 2014.  The issue of my eligibility for the position of DCEO in 2014 was never controversial.  Hence there was no need for me to bring this up in my earlier letter.  It is only now that my qualifications at that time are coming adversarially up as a red herring.   

There are in existence Minutes of the Commission Meeting where my appointment to the position of DCEO in 2014 was approved.  Surely, one would expect that the Minutes must reflect something as severe as any rejection of my candidacy and such rejection being overruled. In this regard, I beg to submit that there can be no such reflection because the action in question never happened. 

On a related matter, and in a futile effort to trivialize my qualifications, I have noticed a few bloggers attempting to discredit the Anglia Ruskin University which awarded the MBA that I hold.  Let it be known that this is an accredited Educational Institution that is ranked at 301-350 out of 1000 Universities on Times World University Rankings – 2018.  This can be confirmed at https://www.timeshighereducation.com/world-university-rankings/2018/world-ranking#!/page/44/length/25/sort_by/rank/sort_order/asc/cols/stats

Vishnu Persaud

Former Deputy Chief Election

Officer

GECOM

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