President Jagdeo: A legacy that never was
You hear it all the time when people discuss the non-existent legacy of Bharrat Jagdeo. The word corruption dominates the conversation. The conclusion is that Mr. Jagdeo’s tenure was poor because there was too much financial skullduggery that clouded his twelve years in office.
Actually in political theory the two are not connected. The birth of a legacy can still occur even though the reign of President or Prime Minister was characterized by massive corruption.
Amidst the sea of financial venalities, a nation’s leader can seek to offset the damage done by the talk of graft by excelling in many areas of national development. A good example in political theory is the dichotomy between authoritarian government and development. In Singapore, Malaysia, Cuba and a couple of Gulf countries, serious economic expansion occurred even though there was no democracy.
Most, if not all, political analysts would concede that the dictatorial figure of Lee Kuan Yew made Singapore into one of the richest Third World countries that today it does not fit the label of a Third World nation.
If you are going to evaluate Mr. Jagdeo’s time, then you have to look at the really abysmal failure in development. Just leave out corruption in the equation and study developmental projects, and the inevitable conclusion is that his reign was a sad failure in economic development. Hardly any project for Mr. Jagdeo succeeded.
Ironically, Mr. Jagdeo’s jewel was not so golden after all. He will be remembered for the Berbice Bridge. Built in the 21st century, it has the appearance of a very poor, cheap structure. It is indeed ironic, because I think the bridge is a large indication of this writer’s view that Jagdeo was a huge failure.
This is the 21st century. If you are constructing a school, cultural centre, library, museum, police station, Government ministry, office blocks, modern architecture, your final product though looking expensive need not be so; the architectural style will make it appear so, but at the end of the day you will have a handsome building.
Every expatriate who returns to Guyana, without exception, makes the statement that Guyana has houses the type they see in upscale suburbs in Europe and the US. The owners simply adopt the prevailing architecture around the world.
I have commented ad infinitum on this page that the Berbice Bridge built three years ago is an ugly, bare thing. Any decent Guyanese would admit that Forbes Burnham’s 1978 construction over the Demerara River is more impressive. Mr. Jagdeo should really be ashamed at what he built over the Berbice River.
You can rattle off your tongue the dreams of Mr. Jagdeo that miserably died in the sands of time.
Mr. Jagdeo was made a Champion of the Earth by the UN, yet that did not impress the Norwegians. He got angry with the Norwegian Prime Minister over the LCDS payments, but the man was unmoved. Jagdeo failed to collect even one cent from his covenant with Norway.
His Amaila Falls hydropower baby is slowly sinking in the thick jungles in Guyana. The most depraved aspect of this project is that if it ever becomes reality, the cost to build it would have been so enormous that it will not reduce the price of kilowatts to the consumers even in the first five years.
Under Mr. Jagdeo, sugar is facing collapse. He imported sugar from Guatemala, built a US$181 million white elephant in Skeldon and sugar production in 2011 was the lowest in twenty years. Mr. Jagdeo dreamt of a Marriott Hotel but it could not get off the ground during his presidency.
What really got started under Mr. Jagdeo? Not even under cash-strapped Burnham did UG fall so short of money as we saw the past ten years. The Botanical Gardens and the National Park became eyesores under Jagdeo.
The NIS is facing a very tragic future. It is so bad that the talk is that in five years’ time it may collapse. Under Jagdeo’s watch, GPL limped along. GPL’s service to customers is hardly of a quality that puts it above what obtained under the PNC – which did not have money – in the eighties.
GWI still cannot get its billing system right. The shortage of public teachers is an enduring feature in Guyana. The Georgetown Public Hospital does not have a proper management system and does not have an impressive quota of competent doctors.
Jagdeo came and met the judicial system in a mess. When he left it was in a deeper mess with shortage of both judges and magistrates. Mr. Jagdeo was a failure, period!