Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Dyer-Griffith: I haven't accepted the job yet

In the face of criticism from the Opposition People's National Movement (PNM), vice- chairman of the Congress of the People, Nicole Dyer-Griffith, said she has not yet accepted the Inspector of Missions post.

Her comment came on the heels of yet another statement from the Opposition, this time from Member of Parliament for Point Fortin, Paula Gopee-Scoon, who issued a media statement last week questioning Dyer-Griffith's suitability for the position.

"There appears to be an ongoing policy of eschewing qualifications and experience in making critical appointments to the country's Foreign Service," Gopee-Scoon said in the statement.

She listed previous national "embarrassment" with former permanent representative to the United Nations in Geneva, Therese Baptiste-Cornelis, and "confusion" at the New York Consulate, the Miami Consulate and the "diminution of our most important posting in Washington by a candidate who has not lived up to what we have come to expect of our Trinidad and Tobago ambassadors".

"There is nothing in Dyer-Griffith's qualifications or experience that suggests she is capable of bringing to the table the skills required for this onerous assignment," Gopee-Scoon said.

"It has now become the norm for the People's Partnership administration to appoint persons to significant positions without doing first the requisite vetting to ensure matching of skills and job fits," she said, listing the appointments of Reshmi Ramnarine and Haffizool Mohammed as examples.

"The nomination of former senator Nicole Dyer-Griffith to be this country's next Inspector of Missions is a dangerous development in similar mould which can adversely affect Trinidad and Tobago's increasingly shambolic foreign policy and image abroad," she said.

Gopee-Scoon is the second PNM member to voice that concern. On Tuesday, Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley described the appointment as akin to a "slap in the face" to those who are more suitable for the post.

He said Dyer-Griffith's appointment is just another example of the Government's propensity to disregard the public interest when making appointments.

Rowley said it was "quite unacceptable" and "a slap in the face of all our citizens" for the Government to appoint Dyer-Griffith, "somebody that they obviously want to give a job to".

"There is nothing in her CV to indicate that she is suitable for this very important post," he said. "The Opposition takes strong objection to the appointment," he said.

But in response, Dyer-Griffith in a telephone interview on Friday said that while she has not yet accepted any offer, the negative criticism from the Opposition will not influence her decision in either direction.

"I have not taken up the position so as for now all of this is a storm in a teacup," she said.

Dyer-Griffith said she had no problem with the Opposition voicing its concern but said there was a marked difference between Gopee-Scoon's questions and Rowley's tonality, which she described as "vitriolic" and full of "rancour".

At the end of last month, Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Dookeran, upon confirming that appointment, said the post has been "vacant for some time".

The position calls for Dyer-Griffith to visit the 14 overseas missions to understand the operational issues and to also resolve matters hindering the smooth running of the missions.