By Leonard Gildarie
So the dreaded time is upon us yet again. Yes, general elections.
Within a few days, political parties and a few hopefuls will have to gather to submit lists of their names who will be contesting the 2nd March General and Regional Elections.
Of the reported almost 20 parties, quite a few of them will not make it. It will be a fact.
At the launch of a one-man party recently, there were empty chairs. Such is the life in politics.
On Friday, the Coalition converged on D’Urban Park to kick off two months of crisscrossing the country. It was a mammoth crowd from all indications.
Today, the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) will gather at Kitty for what is expected to also be a massive turnout.
As we know, the elections will be one of huge stakes. A party that wins will have millions of US dollars from oil and gas – a new source of economic activity – available for spending. It is felt that it would be an uphill task for an Opposition to unseat the incumbent that has that amount of cash available for politicking.
As we speak, there are things happening in the Middle East that will have far-reaching effects- as far as to our shores.
A senior Iranian general was killed in a drone strike sanctioned by the US President last week. Gold prices were over US$1,525 per ounce. As Iran vows retaliation, oil is expected to rise, with prices hovering around US$63 per barrel.
We have to constantly assess our value at the negotiating table.
I have said it before and will repeat, any government that leads this country, and I will not venture on to other states, has to come good.
Our very exercise to head to the polling booth has to be the wise choice of putting representatives in place who will be expected to take the decisions that will propel this country to another level. We should expect no less. The time for excuses has long gone.
And let us put those things into perspective.
Our infrastructural ventures – roads, bridges, drainage and irrigation and sea defence – will all have to be high priority projects. We have a major congestion issue, with a new Demerara River crossing and alternative East Bank Demerara public road needed more than ever before.
We must not turn our eyes away from the sea defence, which is under threat from rising sea levels and spring tides. The people of East Coast Demerara will tell you of the ravages.
Of course, we need a more stable electricity supply, and it is felt that the gas from the oil fields will be the answer to what prevails at the moment.
We have to target our vulnerable, including seniors and single moms. It pains to see our pensioners in lines at the post offices for their monthly $20,000.
Thousands of our seniors depend on families to survive.
I don’t even want to talk about the children who struggle through school.
There are thousands of single parents. It is unbelievable how much of an impact that the situations have had on the quality of education for our young minds. Many of them are unable to afford lunch. Many stay away from school because of no money for transportation. These are the forgotten people.
Many nights coming home, I see women bravely trudging through the streets, on their way to work. They are security guards. It is a job and a means of survival for them.
These are the things we have to talk about.
Last week, we heard of doctors in the public system who clock in two times, at different locations, to ramp up their overtime. Weaknesses in our public systems.
These are the attitudes we have to fight against.
It is not okay to rob the public coffers. There is immediate termination and jail time.
Eventually a name and shame campaign may have to be resorted to help halt the stealing.
As we plunge headlong into the elections campaign, which is official now, we have to think of issues that affect us.
I have been asking for my street to be fixed for months now. The NDC and even the Ministry of Public Infrastructure have been approached. I am hoping for some action. The potholes are getting larger.
We have to demand that our politicians think, and offer us solutions in this silly season.
We hardly have the patience to think of what transpired in the last 30 years and contemplate a replay. The major political parties have to come better.
More than half of the 600,000-plus voters, I am told, are under 35 years of age.
They are young and hungry.
Issues of housing, jobs, security, scholarships, opportunities…these are what matter.
As a media worker, I have seen and felt terror. I have been threatened with death and even blackmail. I understand too well; it all comes with the territory,
As we listen and make our decisions, let it be on issues that we want addressed by the next administration.
Let us send the politicians a clear message that complacency and mediocrity will not be accepted.
Let us be respectful and tolerant in this season. It will not be an easy one.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper.)
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