By Leonard Gildarie
In the media business, you have to be prepared to be shocked, to learn not to cry, to be angry and to emphathise.
I recall the emotion in our Saffon Street newsroom on the morning of Saturday, January 26, 2008. The footage of the Lusignan massacre attack was on the giant TV screen. The shocked faces of the reporters and tears were a stark jerk to reality that we are only humans. Mine was wet too. What manner of animals could perpetuate such acts on their fellow man, woman and child?
You will also often meet people who pretend to appreciate your work but really want to use your medium to further their agenda. I have learnt to deal with it, because it comes with the territory.
I am not big on the social circuit life. It is recommended that to build your source portfolio, the social circuit be attended. You get to meet the biggest decision-makers in the country. Relations are built there.
I, more often than not, occupy my time at home trying to unwind from a gruelling day…there have been countless of those days.
I recently had a chat with my 10-year-old daughter. I was driving.
She asked if I were president, what would be some of the things that I would do in the beginning. It had me thinking. I told her I would cut short the inauguration, summon the opposition leaders to State House, and start working with them immediately on how we could solve some of the country’s problems.
There is a strategic reason for that…and a selfish one, I must admit.
I would hate to have an opposition that stymies the work of my government for the sake of being the opposition. Too counter-productive…giving them a seat or few in government would neutralize this. We can argue on this.
Her questions continue to ring in my ears. What if?
On Friday, I was at the GPO building to uplift a package and told to copy my ID card.
I went to the photocopying place where I tendered a $1,000. The lady there wanted to know if I got oil money early. Chatting with her, I realized then there is a big disconnect between the citizens of this country and their leaders.
The conversation wherever I go always goes back to oil and the government of the day.
While there is awareness, there is not a full appreciation of the implications of that oil find. I am as straight-up as you can get. I could never have worked as a diplomat.
I am too frank. I probably would never be a politician too…for the same reasons. I would not be able to say you are out of your mind or that we don’t have the money to do that for another five years.
However, the question of being president by my little daughter is reverberating.
On my first day, I would summon the opposition leaders and ask them to submit a proposal on shared governance. I would also be willing to give up my salary and allowances as a president for a charity of my choice until the end of the term.
As president, I want to demand my advisors to immediately bring up some of the key issues including pensions, support for single parents and orphans, local content laws, and of course, a review of our corruption regulations.
I am not too happy with our regulatory bodies and the Neighbourhood Democratic Councils. We spend months, millions of dollars, and time, to prepare and pass legislation, yet when it comes to enforcing the laws, it seems to be ‘same old, same old’.
We need to hear more from our Police and Public Service Commissions. I want to know how many cases they are handling. I want the newspaper and other media houses to know who is/are being sanctioned.
I would like to see more action being taken against magistrates, lawyers and judges who lose their marbles and morals while carrying out their work.
As president, I would insist that there have to be continuous awareness sessions with ministers, permanent secretaries and other decision-makers to underscore that jail is waiting for those that are involved in corruption.
We can go on and on.
We can dream what a model government should be.
One can never have a true appreciation of the struggles on the ground until a visit is made to the kitchen of a single parent who works as a security guard in the night.
I am not saying that there is not poverty around the world. Indeed, we are a fortunate people. We don’t have terrorism. Our crime rate is manageable. We are not starving. We have a positive growth rate. We have oil now. However, there is much more we can do.
We can all dream to be president. It is much more than the flashing lights. It takes vision, sleepless nights away from family, dealing with rogue ministers, and even a populace that does not truly appreciate your tireless efforts.
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