During cross examination in the libel suit Bharrat Jagdeo brought against me, Roger Luncheon told the court that Region Ten Chairman, Mortimer Mingo, was offered a house lot by him, Dr. Luncheon, in Pradoville 2.
The revelation became a national scandal not only because Mingo was a part of the PNC’s leadership but as Region Ten Chairman, there was bound to be gossip about the motive for offering him a house lot. But in addition to these two dimensions, there was the sordid third one. Why would Luncheon offer and why would Mingo accept a house lot in Pradoville 2 that, with the exception of the army boss, Gary Best, consists of the hierarchy of the PPP, including the Champion of God knows what?
That kind of information did hurt the PNC, but Mingo retains his position in the hierarchy of the PNC’s leadership. The Mingo thing was in 2010. Now in 2013, another Regional Chairman from the ranks of the PNC is about to walk into a controversy. On Wednesday morning while I was in the picket line with the Plaisance villagers demonstrating against the Government’s takeover of their community ground, Aubrey Norton showed me a letter. It was from the Office of the President addressed to the Region Four Chairman, Clement Corlette, informing him on the construction of the towers for the e-governance project and requesting his support.
Tacuma Ogunseye was standing next to me so he read the letter. Tacuma asked me what date was on the paper. I saw February 18, 2013. Aubrey said that Corlette told him he knew nothing of the project. Corlette is quoted in both independent dailies as saying Region Four was not informed. How do you account for the letter?
Tacuma Ogunseye has a possible answer. He said that one explanation could be that the Office of the President did not send out the letter to Region Four, but now there is an irate Plaisance community on the road, the letter was dispatched to Corlette.
So did Corlette receive the letter long before anger erupted in Plaisance or is Tacuma’s analysis the right one? I must admit there was a cynical tone in his voice when Tacuma spoke.
If Corlette knew before the community of Plaisance vented its frustration on Easter Monday, then Region Four has some explaining to do. There is no way the PNC and the Region Four administrators could placate the Guyanese people if Mr. Corlette knew that the Government of Guyana was going to take over the Plaisance Community Centre ground and he did not reject the venture, and accordingly advise the people of Plaisance. The removal of a playfield would engender a confrontation in most countries around the world.
A community ground or a playfield is seen essentially as an outlet for aesthetic and psychological instincts. Mothers want to go and play with their small kids. Unemployed youths want to let off steam by using their machismo in football or cricket. After a hard day’s work, men want to drink and play dominoes. It is stupid, bordering on insanity, to stop a community from accessing their playfield which is situated in the heart of the village. Whoever came up with that idea is a fool but as all Guyanese know, fools are in charge.
What the protestors have told me is that since the completion of Pradoville 2, there have been consistent restrictions in the use of the community ground by the police, who the residents believe are acting on orders from the Government. If restrictions are in place already and there are no towers, then the Plaisance people fear that when the towers go up this will be the end to their community centre
The protest is over. The protestors told me that they are not waiting for the Government to come back and fill the monstrous hole the Chinese workers dug. I had suggested that the residents sign a petition and demand that the Office of the President send its workers to fill the hole. At the time of writing, some of the villagers are doing just that on their own time.
One final point. Aubrey Norton, a resident of Plaisance told this newspaper that he expected support from APNU. I spent two full days on the picket line and apart from Norton and Tacuma Ogunseye, there was no presence from the political parties, pressure groups and other stakeholders.
Surely, we all should have been there to make our little contribution to the fight against dictatorship. In the end, the Plaisance people won their battle, and they did not lose the war either.
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