Tue | Jun 18, 2019

Devon Dick | That Andrew Wheatley Building

Published:Thursday | November 22, 2018 | 12:00 AM
The Dr Andrew Wheatley Centre for Digital Innovation and Advanced Manufacturing at the Caribbean Maritime University.<\n>

Andrew Wheatley's name stays on the Centre For Digital Innovation and Advanced Manufacturing, according to Professor Fritz Pinnock, president of the Caribbean Maritime University. He defended the naming and the name remaining, because Wheatley 'did a lot of positives', was dedicated to CMU, has 'the heart of a champion', 'what he did through the Universal Service Fund'. what he did elsewhere 'had no bearing on his contribution to the development of the just-opened Festo Authorised and Certified Training (FACT) Centre. He also promised to honour "Phillip Paulwell, Dr Omar Davies, Prime Minister Andrew Holness, among others" (September 20). It is good that Pinnock has identified Wheatley's contribution because it is sad when ministers of government and members of parliament serve and there is no evidence they had made a difference, what vision was articulated, what legislation initiated, and what ideas are placed on the table were before their time.

However, this very high honour was given to Wheatley apparently when the building was opened in 2017, after one year of service. This is very short, given that such high honour should be reserved for those who have a body of outstanding work over many years. Remember, not even the great Usain Bolt had any building named after him after a year. Bolt's accolades came after 12 years of outstanding performance. Furthermore, what of the other 18 cabinet ministers in the Andrew Holness administration? Are we to believe that it is only Wheatley who has made a significant contribution? Why is a building not named after Edmund Bartlett in tourism, or Horace Chang, when he was minister of housing, among others. In addition, many Cabinet ministers have served since Independence in 1962. Will we see every building, road and highway named after ministers?

 

CONFLICT OF INTEREST

 

Furthermore, a Cabinet minister, while in office, should not have a building named after he/she if s/he has portfolio responsibility for the organisation to which that building is associated. It smacks of conflict of interest. Naming a building in one's honour should only be done for persons who have accomplished a significant body of work and have reached retirement. Can you imagine giving such honour to an outstanding athlete and then he or she fails a drug test? The professor claims that in giving the honour it is immaterial, what was done elsewhere. Is he saying that whether someone was involved in corruption, extortion, sexually harassing workers, etc, is immaterial? When people are assessing Christopher Columbus and his contribution to the West Indies, it cannot be ignored that it is claimed that he had oversight of rape and genocide. Proper due diligence ought to be done before naming a building after someone. Perhaps the professor might want to name a building after the former head of Universal Access Fund, Hugh Cross, who served for 12 outstanding years (2004-16).

PS: That the Prime Minister has not named a new minister to replace Wheatley after four months has elicited comments such as: it shows lack of confidence in the present cabinet ministers or a lack of competence in the available pool. Others have seen it as another sign of the messianic complex of the prime minister in having so many portfolios. However, everyone has missed one major positive. Since the PM has taken over, no one can claim that things are worse under the PM. Therefore, it proves that we do not need a cabinet of 19 ministers and five ministers of state. The Cabinet could easily be reduced to the 11 core functions, as recommended by the late professor Rex Nettleford et al with no harm to governance!

Send feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com