Mar 26, 2021 Editorial
Kaieteur News – Guyana belongs in the Guinness Book of World Records, but not for the grand reasons that put the names of extraordinary individuals and places in its hallowed pages. In view of what is happening here with this country’s natural resources, and especially with its oil wealth, that Guinness Book is the place for it to be.
The leaders of this country have given away in stealthy, out of sight, arrangements involving the equivalent of billions of barrels of oil worth billions in U.S. dollars to favoured cronies, and one of those leaders had the audacity and smartness to say that ‘no laws broken’. In this society, a man gives away a bicycle or a spanner that is the property of others, and he quickly ends up in jail. Only in Guyana can such secret dealings involving billions of the peoples’ wealth be secretly given away and bartered away (for what we will find out eventually) and someone offers the brainless in the specious defence of no laws were broken. To utter such a statement in public should be enough to attract a jail sentence, a long one. It is how the assets of the people are handed over in friendly and self-enriching quid pro quos to cronies, and the fallback position is no laws were broken. Before our fellow Guyanese, we take this unyielding and unmoving position: that deserves to be in the Guinness Book of Records, and the utterer should have the book thrown at him.
Clearly, the circus is not coming to town; it is already here. The question is how many clowns are already present in this now booming oil town. A former president of the United States of America, a figure questionable as to his sanity, did say that he could walk in the middle of Manhattan, New York and commit the unthinkable and unpardonable and nothing would come of it, for the laws do not apply to him. We think that this is what is at work here in Guyana with this oil of ours. It drives men, who were neither clean nor circumspect before, into frenzies of cupidity and sheer insanity. It is so, because they say so, with no questions asked.
It is how the knife is first plunged into the backs of Guyanese, and then stuck into their guts by those who shamelessly call themselves leaders. A parliamentary presence, another believed brainy wise guy on the block, went public to state that information on the nation’s oil is available, and all that the sections of the media that is interested has to do is to ask. On the richest thing ever to hit this country, matters boil down to this sort of childish ridiculousness, this kind of high-grade embarrassment from those who don’t know better and could care less.
In other words, what this supposed chief steward in our natural resources sector is sharing, is the equivalent of this: if the media does not ask, then the media will not get. That may not qualify for the Guinness Book of World Records, but it is definitely a candidate for Ripley’s Believe it or Not. It is like the top bureaucrats that run the public service, or the auditors that conduct reviews of their work, saying that information is on hand about how the business of the people is managed, but all of it will be held in storage, unless somebody remembers (or cares) to ask. To put differently, there will be no voluntary or mandatory minimum reporting, as is routine all over, if those to whom it matters do not manifest either interest or inquiry. Stranger things from the leaders of this nation we have heard with more frequency as of late, but we are struggling to recall the precedents and the parallels. We are going far with this oil wealth, and it is mostly down. And if we play dumb and disinterested, the leaders in government are going to drag us down, too.
History has been very enlightening to those who care enough to spare the time and focus their attentions. When governments are scanty in providing the people in their area of stewardship with information, then they are usually up to something; that something is usually not of anything that can even be termed remotely good. This is not clean governance; it is not transparent either. It is certainly not of trustworthy leadership, which we have never ever really had here. And that, too, is something that belongs in the Guinness Book of World Records.
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