David A. Granger is Guyana’s 8th Executive President

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It will be remembered as the greatest battle in Guyana’s political history. Two of the major political parties seemed determined to outclass each other at any cost. The mudslinging and all wooing one could conceive, was second to none.
But on May 11, the electorate decided its fate for the next five years. They dethroned the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) and deemed the new government to be the coalition formed by A Partnership for National Unity plus Alliance for Change (APNU+AFC).
On May 16, David Arthur Granger, leader of the coalition, was sworn in as Guyana’s eighth Executive President.
With his new-found title, Granger made it clear that his interest truly lies in transforming Guyana, a vision that has been nurtured from his childhood days.
Born July 15, 1945, he is the seventh in a family of five girls and three boys born to Chetwynd and Verleigh Granger. His father served as a police officer and his mother worked as a nurse. He said that he was “clinically” born in Ruimveldt but soon moved to Bartica where he spent some of his earlier years. Later he lived in Whim, Berbice.
History plays strange tricks. It was while living at Whim, Corentyne that he met Moses Nagamootoo, his current Prime Minister. They attended the same school at the same time.
From a young age, the disciplinarian displayed a desire to serve his country with pride, honour, respect and dignity. It came as no surprise that while at school — Queen’s College — he became a member of the Queen’s College Cadet Corps. It goes without saying that he was no slouch in the field of academics.
Brigadier Granger later joined the Guyana Defence Force as an officer cadet in 1965, and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in 1966.
He served for a time as Commander of the Guyana Defence Force and subsequently as National Security Adviser from 1990 to 1992.
He received his professional military training at the Army Command and Staff College in Nigeria; the Jungle Warfare Instruction Centre in Brazil; the School of Infantry and the Mons Officer Cadet School.
He also nurtured his love for journalism and this passion would later see him establishing a magazine, the Guyana Review, in 1992. He was both founder and Editor.
Granger spent the 1995-1996 academic year as a Hubert H. Humphrey/Fulbright Fellow at the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland, College Park.
The Executive President is a graduate of the University of Guyana, where he received his Bachelor of Arts Degree in History and Master’s Degree in Social Science.
He later graduated from the University of the West Indies, where he received his post-graduate Diploma in International Relations.
He also attended the Urban Policy Development Workshop at the University of California, Los Angeles; the Defence Planning and Resource Management course at the National Defence University, Washington DC; and the Counter-Terrorism Educators’ Workshop at the Joint Special Operations, University, Florida, USA.
It was in 2010 that his activism in politics increased as he made a successful bid to be elected as the presidential candidate of the People’s National Congress Reform for the November 2011 general election and was then appointed to Head the APNU coalition in 2011 as well.
He was also Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly of Guyana, from 2012 to 2015.
The historian has written extensively on national defence and public security issues. He is the author of National Defence: A Brief History of the Guyana Defence Force, 1965- 2005; Public Security: Criminal Violence and Policing in Guyana; and Public Policy: The Crisis of Governance in Guyana.
He has also written several monographs, including Five Thousand Day War: The Struggle for Haiti’s Independence, 1789 –1804; and The British Guiana Volunteer Force, 1948 -1966.
The President was elected to the presidencies of the History Society, the Guyana Heritage Society, the University of Guyana Guild of Graduates; and the Guyana Chess Federation.
He is also a former member of the University of Guyana Council, Association of Caribbean Historians, Caribbean Studies Association, and the Guyana Press Association.
The lover of the arts is in receipt of various academic awards, including the President’s Medal for the best graduating student; Dennis Irvine Prize for the student who made the greatest contribution to all cultural life of the u niversity; Council of the University Prize; Elsa Goveia Medal of Excellence; Guy de Weever History Prize; Earl Attlee History Prize; Mary Noel Menezes Award for History; Department of History Prize and others, from the University of Guyana.
The father of two is also the holder of three national awards: The Military Efficiency Medal (1976), the Military Service Medal (1981), and the Military Service Star (1985) for distinguished military service.
Being sworn in at Public Buildings, Georgetown was a grand occasion. He chose that venue to show respect for the Parliament and for democracy, even though the ceremony is usually observed at State House.
He was accompanied by his wife, Sandra (née Chan-A-Sue) of 45 years on what he described to be the most important moment of his life.
There have been several attempts at coalition governments in the past but Granger’s efforts will go down as being the most successful. It broke the 23-year hold the People’s Progressive Party/ Civic (PPP/C) had over the nation.
Granger will be leading for the first time ever, an inclusionary government which earned itself control of the legislative arm of government with 33 seats.
The party won the 2015 General and Regional election with just under a 5000 votes margin over the PPP/C. The country’s Prime Minister is Moses Nagamootoo. He was sworn in at the Office of the President on May 20, 2015.
His swearing in ceremony was indeed an emotional one, not only for the man-in-the-street but also for several public officials, members of the APNU+AFC and even some in the media fraternity.
Thousands crammed every building within range. Some found comfortable spots at the Stabroek Market Clock, the rooftop of Demico House, and the Georgetown Magistrates’ Court. Others lined the fence of the Public Buildings screaming for their President.
If they were not armed with APNU flags, they were decked out in creative green and yellow suits, shoes and hats.
Special invitees to the occasion included ambassadors of America, Britain and Canada, Commissioner of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), Vincent Alexander, GECOM Chairman, Dr. Steve Surujbally, international observers, the Private Sector Commission, the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry and former Labour Minister, Nanda Gopaul.
When “the President of the People” arrived, there were screams. Palm branches were hoisted, horns honked continuously, and party paraphernalia was thrown into the air.
Granger stepped out of his car elegantly clad in his black suit, with a Guyana emblem pinned to his left chest.
He then made his way to the balcony of the Public Buildings. The Proclamation was read by Dr. Steve Surujbally, then Granger took the Oath of Office which was administered by the Chancellor of the Judiciary (ag) Carl Singh.
He swore that he would bear true faith and allegiance to the people of Guyana. He also vowed to faithfully execute the Office of President without fear or favor, affection or ill will.
“It is written, this is the day which the Lord has made and we will rejoice and be glad in his name,” he said to thousands of cheering Guyanese.
Granger said that there is good reason to celebrate now, not only because of the election results but more importantly, for the restoration of democracy. He then expressed his heartfelt thanks to those who voted for the six-member coalition.
“We congratulate the successful candidates of all parties who will soon be elected to serve in the Eleventh Parliament, a parliament I will not prorogue. I encourage them to be faithful to their office.”
“Let us now put the past behind us and live in unity and banish poverty, ignorance, fear and hatred.
“We are here to witness not the swearing in of the party leader but the President of all the people. I shall be a good President for all the people,” the Head of State said.
Granger said that he believed that the inauguration of a government of national unity is the best way to overcome the nation’s historic divisions.
He said that it is time to look to the future. He invited all to his inauguration ceremony on May 26, Independence Day, at the National Stadium.
APNU’s General Secretary, Joseph Harmon, is the Minister within the Ministry of the Presidency. He is de facto head of the Ministers. Though his party has been very critical of the PPP/C administration over the years, Granger still extended an olive branch to former President Donald Ramotar to join the unity movement.
He also called on those present to live in peace and to embrace each other regardless of race, class or political persuasion. In the end they all sang the national song, ”Let Us Co-operate,” while holding the hand of the person beside them.
The moment was indeed filled with a feeling of joy and unity.
The lover of classical music said that he has come a far way and is proud of all that he has accomplished. He said, “I have a strong desire to reduce poverty. I want to see my country improve. I am tired of disunity. I have struggled for this time, this moment, where we have a coalition government and this is good for Guyana.”
The President said, however, that he does not see the victory as a personal triumph but rather, as an achievement for the nation.
Asked if there will be changes in the electoral system, Granger stated, “Oh yes! Our process is way, way too slow. The slothfulness makes it way too vulnerable to manipulation. So under my stewardship it will be reformed. There is no reason why we shouldn’t have a process that gives us results in 12 hours.”
“It’s 400,000 people. You don’t need five days to get the results.”
“Come on, man, we can do this count in one day in prep form.”
Granger said, too, that while the PPP did not invite the opposition to talks on the country’s budget he is not interested in revenge.
“We have committed ourselves to inclusionary democracy. We will invite the PPP/C to discussions on the budget preparation process and establish the types of mechanisms they failed to get off the ground to facilitate such talks as well as the passage of Bills.
The budget is very important and we will ensure we don’t have the car crashes we saw in the Tenth Parliament. We will invite them to talk on the budget and make their input. I am not shutting out anyone because they did that to us. I am finished with the fighting. That is history.”
He promised, too, that his government will be different in terms of demonstrating accountability. “Our government will be one of difference. I will be able to demonstrate that there will be accountability in my administration. To ensure this, I have drafted a Code of Conduct which they will all sign on to and be called on to adhere to it. Misbehavior would not be tolerated.”
He added, “Access to information is dependent on the attitude of the government and I believe that it should be available to the public even if there is no legislation. Access to information is an important aspect to democracy and if the people are informed and opposition is informed, the government can be more transparent and accountable as well as more efficient.”
“So that, for me, is central to democracy. Once government’s business reaches to a stage of being murky and the people are demanding information and you are denying them that right, then you will run into problems like we did with Skeldon Sugar estate, the Specialty Hospital, the failed fibre optic cable project, the Marriott Hotel, the expansion project for the Cheddi Jagan International Airport, and the Amaila Falls Hydro Project.”
“That is what happens when there is no openness. That happens when you try to hide the truth from the people. You end up with costly mistakes such as those projects. So once there is more scrutiny, officials will be way more careful. I intend to run a government grounded in transparency and accountability. We are serving the people and keeping them in the know and will prove that we mean what we say.”
The President also has huge plans for the business community.
Only a few months ago, the politician was the feature presenter at a luncheon hosted by the Guyana Manufacturing and Services Association (GMSA) at the Savannah Suite of the Pegasus Hotel.
The function was in keeping with GMSA’s annual initiative to listen to and query the plans of the politicians for the business community. The two-part series will see President Donald Ramotar relaying his investment plan in late April.
GMSA President, Clinton Williams, said that the primary objective of this idea is to provide a platform for the production industry to obtain first-hand information on business-related issues.
The fora are also intended to enable manufacturers, service providers, importers, exporters and distributors to question each candidate for the upcoming elections on matters that directly affect the conduct of their business, and to assess each party’s economic blueprint going forward.
Granger, in his address, described for the audience some of the depressing observations he made during trips to the “neglected” North West Region.
He said that his vision is that once the party assumes power, it would seek to create a world class environment for business in Guyana and provide every Guyanese with a good life. In achieving this, the politician said that the coalition plans to improve the education system by transforming the University of Guyana into a five-star institution.
Granger said that the APNU+AFC partnership will suppress banditry, piracy, money laundering, execution-style murders and gun smuggling, while he admitted that this can only be done with a reformed police force.
The politician emphasized, too, that the “winner-takes-all politics” is inherently unsafe and an APNU+AFC alliance will create a government of national unity.
Granger asserted that the new coalition will endeavor to reduce clashes in Parliament, improve political instability, hold Local Government Elections, ensure that Bills are assented to, establish an institutional framework and ensure that the National Assembly is free from Executive control.
The President posited that the coalition also intends to establish conditions for a truly independent judiciary, Elections Commission and Auditor General’s Office; ensure that the Ombudsman’s Office is fully equipped; and the Police Complaints Authority is effective.
He also spoke to the APNU+AFC’s intentions to establish the Public Procurement Commission and a favourable business environment by leveling the playing field with certain agencies such as the Guyana Forestry Commission and the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission.
Support for agro processing, Granger said, will also be given, as he acknowledged that the problem of cheaper energy needs to and will be addressed.
The strategy, he said, will be centered on reducing Guyana’s dependence on the “six sisters” – sugar, rice, timber, bauxite, gold and fish – and on making moves to diversify the industry.
Entrepreneurs quizzed the politician on various areas. He was asked about his plan to craft laws to guide the construction and management of funeral homes, promote security in the hinterland areas, details of APNU+AFC’s energy plans, and how it intends to liberalize the telecommunications sector and tackle corruption.
In providing his message to the nation, Granger said, “I simply want to say that we are on the road to building national unity and I intend to run an administration for the good of the people regardless of who they voted for and we must continue to work along this route. It is time for reconciliation.”

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