On what documentation was UG's decision to donate land for a stadium based?

Stabroek News
October 2, 2001

Dear Editor,

There is an aspect of the football stadium fiasco that needs the widest possible discussion for it involves the way a certain government in the global community of nations functions.

This country is a modern territory that has legal and contractual relations with powerful governments, corporations and international organisations around the world. In doing business with these entities, the Government of Guyana has access to its Ministries of Legal Affairs, Foreign Affairs and International Trade. It has access to a body of laws that all countries have resort to. Yet in the year 2001, Minister Teixeira could ask the University of Guyana to donate 15 acres of public land for a stadium concerning which she had no written papers.

She dragged the President into this ignominious situation and has made Guyana an object of derision. But more than this, other governments must be laughing at Guyana and its only university. The university met on several occasions, debated the question of donating 15 acres of land to other people not connected to the university, and even asked the university's law firm to pronounce on the matter. While all of this was going on, there was no document from FIFA to the Minister, and then to the university about the building of a stadium on the university estate for the people of Guyana. Mr Blatter and Mr Warner said they never offered Guyana a US$20 million stadium. So really what written paper did the Minister submit to the university?

The University of Guyana teaches law. The students it teaches graduate and return to run the legal and judicial system in Guyana. Yet this university agreed to give away a part of its land when it had been given no copy of a written agreement on what the donated land would be used for. Even if Minister Teixeira couldn't be bothered with administrative and legal procedures, the university should have demanded papers from her. The most facetious analogy one could think of is that of a promoter hears from his friend in the US that Michael Jackson is coming to Guyana to perform. So he reserves the Pegasus, employs PR officials, contacts the Guyana Police Force and orders entertainment facilities from the business sector. But he has no official letter or legal document from Mr Jackson's people indicating that he is coming to Guyana.

This is exactly what Minister Teixeira did. And the University of Guyana became more shameless than the Minister herself. The Minister told the university that FIFA is building a stadium in Guyana once the land is available. The proper and decent thing for the university to do is to see what the letter from FIFA says. If there was no letter, then UG should have requested details from the Minister on what FIFA wants, how the money will be used and how it would be administered. These are elementary procedures that even the boy scouts' organisation observes.

The Pro-Chancellor of the University, Dr Joshua Ramsammy is no rabbit when it comes to defending himself. He just wrote the media to rebut what was written about him. He owes the university community and the people of Guyana an explanation. The first question he must answer is what documents did UG see from FIFA when it began its deliberation on the donation of land? Secondly, if no relevant documents were forthcoming, then what was UG basing its arguments on as it continued to discuss the matter? Thirdly, if the documents could not have been obtained, then why didn't UG drop the matter? Fourthly, was the donation made based on word of mouth from Minister Teixeira?

Those who supported the rule of Burnham must be laughing their heads off. It was said that Burnham made land available to Jim Jones without going through the proper procedures. But in fairness to Burnham, he wanted to open up the interior, and Jonestown was developed by Jones and his followers. In the case of the football stadium, the university's land has been given away for something that up to this day no one knows what it is about. The UG football stadium scandal is more perverse than the Jonestown imbroglio. In the case of Burnham, he had a concrete proposal from Jones. And Jones carried through with his plan. In the case of the football stadium, the government did not have any contract with the donor and no one seems to have had any written agreement with the donor. Really, this is the kind of stuff banana republics are made of.

Minister Teixeira has disgraced the presidency, the university, the government and the people of Guyana.

Yours faithfully,

Frederick Kissoon