Campbell's Commentary YOU EDUCATED FOOLS: Falla Backa Me
By Aubrey Campbell
NEW YORK, NY. Tuesday, February 18, 2020--Good day folks. Let me see if I can cut through all the Monday morning mustard and get to the heart of the matter, a Jamaican Diaspora in disarray.
Let’s start then with the lead story in the February 13, edition of The Weekly Gleaner headlined in bold, red letters, STEP DOWN, with a picture of Leo Gilling. The ‘tease’ to the story which is published on page 4, says ‘Group cut ties with Gilling-led company, press for his resignation from Diaspora Task Force’.
So, let’s get some context here. Leo Gilling is Jamaican and besides that, he is many things to many people and organizations, including the Union of Jamaican Alumni Associations (USA), Inc. Leo is big on education and not because he is a trained teacher and a graduate of the Sam Sharpe Teachers College, Montego Bay, Jamaica.
Whatever Leo says, UJAA (USA), Inc, does!
The aspiring politician that he is, he ran unsuccessfully for office in 2018, for a seat on the Miramar City Council, South Florida, where he now resides. His advocacy for things Jamaican started while residing in California.
Gilling’s persona took on some national significance after 2002, when the government decided to change the narrative, somewhat, on how overseas Jamaicans are engaged in the conversation on national development.
From there and at the many Diaspora Conferences, we had sector/sectorial units being engaged on how best to channel the limited resources into targeted areas such as health, education, public safety, investment, agriculture, among others.
To keep himself and others in the conversation, Gilling piloted the Education Task Force into something of a model unit for Diaspora engagement. Other units followed to the point where, now, Gilling again led the initiative for bringing all the task forces together under one umbrella, the Task Force Network, including about 12 units.
Gilling has also found time to fashion his own space on the growing global media network. His camera lens is always open as he invites a global audience to ‘falla backa him’, or if you prefer to go one on one, online with your radio DJ, he’s that person as well.
So, with all of the above and some, did Gilling not know or realized that the higher and higher he was climbing, was the more his ass was and would be exposed, for all to see?
Let’s be real here, for what it’s worth. Gilling had the eyes, ears, and God knows what else, of the Minister of Education, Ruel Reid. To say that Reid was at his beck and call, might be an understatement. The education of Jamaica’s children was front and center of their agenda with seminars, webinars, and summits with the Broward County Education system, to shape best practices for students and faculty in an age and era when everything and every methodology is under intense scrutiny.
In Florida, Gilling ran a damn good campaign but lost to the better candidate, another Jamaican, someone who is tried and proven.
Gilling might have been a political neophyte but he knows what it is to be transparent in the public sphere. That was part of his political campaign platform.
So, how come now when the Diaspora is asking for transparency, you are suddenly feigning ignorance?
Let me hasten to say, ignorance is not an excuse!
This matter with the MoE and the Caribbean Maritime University (CMU), is one more reason why persons are willing into a paintbrush Jamaica as corrupt, because of people like Gilling, Reid, Fritz Pinnock, among others, continue to take people for fools!
All of a sudden, the Gleaner’s journalism is sloppy because it attempts to uncover and lay bare, for the world to see, your sloppiness and skullduggery, at profiting unfairly on the backs of a trusting populace!
The UJAA (USA), Inc, is jumping to Gilling’s defense and might as well. The union is accountable to some 50/plus alumni associations in the greater New York Metropolis and derives its keep from their contributions, which in turn, is derived from every single one of you, who dress up and go to the endless parade of dinner/dances and awards ceremonies, weekend after weekend.
Is UJAA (USA), Inc, a benefactor or a beneficiary of the MoE/CMU corruption scandal now before the Jamaican judiciary?
I know that the UJAA (USA), Inc role in the Education Task Force is significant, pivotal, yet nobody is willing to ask the right questions but all too willing to decry a news article, attempting to set the record straight by calling for the head of the Diaspora movement, yes, and let me repeat – for emphasis – head of the Diaspora movement – self-appointed or not, to step down, step aside, step out the way, until the investigation is completed!
See how fast we become like those folks blaming CNN for exposing the lying and cheating that informs the administration of Donald J. Trump, President of these United States!
Deal with the merits of the message, not the messenger!
What Gilling and company are accused of, is a disservice to the Diaspora, plunging it into further disarray. Because now, the first order of business for those who want to serve, is not to use any such post for personal gain!
And mind you, Gilling is not the first!
Karlene Largie needs to be very careful of what she is defending.
Go back and look at the Attorney General’s findings. It points to an unfair and unethical advantage given to a company, established in questionable time by Gilling and partners, again well-placed individuals in the Diaspora movement, to outbid other entities that satisfied bidding and procurement guidelines and all you can say is that your company winning the bid was a mere coincidence…!
Because I’m an educated fool!
Reid, Pinnock, and others were hauled before the courts at the crack of dawn, in shiny silver bangles. We wait to see who is next. And that is why concerned and disappointed members of the Diaspora feel that in the best interest of transparency, Gilling should fade to black, move to the background, ‘tek whey yuself’, until such time that the investigation clears you.
For now, you are complicit in what continues to be a pervasive cancer of corruption, besetting our beloved island nation!
There are Jamaicans scattered around the globe, giving everything, every day, and getting nothing in return. There are those who give two freaking red pennies and get a national award in return. And then, there are those who, in giving, simply ask for accountability and instead they get push-back of the kind that challenges their nationality.
If the money paid to Gilling’s shell company has not been shared and ‘kicked back’ already, it should be returned to the government and people of Jamaica!
Imagine, the Jamaican government will lose millions of $ because its corruption index is not improving. This is part of the reason.
The same knife that stick the goat, it same one a go stick the sheep…!
Tell me that this is sloppy journalism! Those who claim they were misquoted while hiding behind a Social Media chat group, should now come forward and set the record straight! And until you do, the Diaspora will remain in global disarray.
Next week I will deal with that entity called the Diaspora Voice.
You have the floor!