The Story Within The Story…
By Leonard Gildarie
One week ago, as I wrote my weekly piece, we were hours away from a key meeting of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM).
For more than five months, the people of Guyana stood in shock and disbelief as the most critical election ever to choose a new government in this country quickly spun out of control.
The players kept changing. From Clairmont Mingo, to Keith Lowenfield, to a number of virtually unknown women, it was constant check for the king on the chess board by the generals.
There were more than a dozen court cases with little thought of the dangers of COVID-19.
The gains of the economy over the years, coupled with the peace among the people, was shattered when a handful of persons, both inside and out of Guyana, stooped to the lowest of low…they called on the race card. For me, it was the most painful thing that one could have witnessed.
I watched my brothers and sisters beat up on each other and could not help but marvel at our frailties.
I watched as the sacred judiciary came under fire and judges were pitted against each other publicly by the overnight pundits who sprung up from nowhere.
Sitting at the podium, beating their chests and masked were the little gods who abused state resources to the maximum in a desperate bid to foist an illegality on the people.
A few, barefacedly, insist they have a right to continue serving the people in the same positions.
I hurt for the supporters who were lied to time and again. I hurt for a few leaders who honestly believed the lies they were told. A few have stopped talking to me.
I can’t trust myself to look at their visage and not cringe.
I said it before and will repeat. The David Granger administration had this game to lose. And lose they did.
As a general leading his troops, there were opportunities to lose the battle and yet win the war.
The country was the prize. The coalition banked on the goodwill of 2015 without paying heed to the dismal showing at two Local Government Elections.
It was a battering. It appeared both the A Partnership for National Unity, and the smaller faction, the Alliance For Change, both abandoned any pretence of campaigning for the LGEs.
Coming in to the 2020 elections, it was clear that the game plan had to change.
The rented crowds, it appeared did little to appease the people, who felt betrayed by a scandalous oil deal with ExxonMobil. There can be no excuse for what we have. The ministers who all overlooked this deal should be very afraid and ashamed to look in the eyes of the people of Guyana.
We all deserve so much more. I believed that Granger was misled as a president, sitting at the head of the Cabinet on this deal. There is no way he would have sanctioned it. The ministers simply advised him, and he took it wholesale.
Was it stupidity or corruption with the ExxonMobil deal in 2016?
Maybe we will never know. There has to be questions asked. Suriname is smiling all the way to the bank with a reservoir that cannot match the quality of the Stabroek block, a world-class find.
We messed up on that one. Yet we flung ourselves headlong into the granting permits for other developments by ExxonMobil.
Something is wrong with this picture?
By the time this piece was completed, it was time for the inauguration ceremony for the country’s 9th president, Irfaan Ali.
Sworn in last Sunday, hours after the country was stunned by the swift declaration by chair of GECOM, Justice (Ret’d), Claudette Singh, Ali and team swiftly went to work.
Guyana was shocked into silence and it was a surreal feeling that more than 18 months of pain was over.
I had a déjà vu feeling. The good will of 2015 is here.
There is a marked difference. This time, I could not help by contemplate the missed opportunities.
I saw arrogance from a few ministers. I met a few ministers who I respected.
As the new president puts the inauguration behind him and gets ready to host his second Cabinet meeting this week, let us be very clear.
The people expect that there will be questions asked and answers given.
Is it true that swaths of our lands have been parceled and shared out?
Is there any credence to rumours that last-minute payments to the tune of hundreds of millions were made for contracts which did not follow the procurement procedures?
Is it true that the five months were used to grab up and hide away traces of crimes in office by ministers?
We should know.
News that a number of accountants have been appointed, pro bono, to determine the financial health of 19 government agencies should be welcomed.
It is not full audits, but rather rapid assessments of the entities.
However, I pay little attention to this.
I am praying, rather, that the administration pay attention to the deep divide that has opened between our people.
It may take years.
But every journey begins with a step. We must. We have to address.
I would suggest the administration appoint a special body to examine ways to help heal this beautiful country of ours.
The churches, mandirs, mosques and civil societies will all have to play their role.
Our religious leaders will have to find the ways.
In the meantime, we should understand that we cannot change what is before us.
Whether we like it or not, there is a government in place.
President Ali should call for healing and building. Despite the words of former president, Granger, yesterday, the battles must now be fought in the National Assembly and by agitation in the media.
The problem is that a few persons have angered the private media houses so much that it will take time for the hatchets to be buried.
We have to pull out the stops.
Much love and may God continue to bless this country we call home.
(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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