Kaieteur News – I knew former PNC Minister of Communities, Ronald Bulkan, long before he entered politics. At that time, our relation was a very friendly one and I considered Ronald quite a nice gentleman. I wasn’t surprised that he entered politics. He was always concerned about the abuse of state power.
What puzzled me was his closeness to Granger. Even if he didn’t know Granger and like a majority of Guyanese, including me, in 2015 and 2016 who wished Granger well, it was clear to all by 2017 that Granger was not a likeable president and not a leader that will leave any distinguishing marks of transformative vision.
When I saw him on television entering the GECOM Centre in the Ashmin Building on Thursday, March 5 when the rigging of the election was clearly before the eyes of the world, I said to myself, this was not the Ronald Bulkan I knew. “Is this man supporting rigged elections,” I uttered to myself?
When in government, I went to see him. I trusted he would listen to me because we were friends. I visited Minister Bulkan twice. The first occasion was to plead a case for the reversal of the dismissal of a friend who I knew during the 2015 campaign. The second time was to ask for house lots for three persons who helped me during the 2015 campaign.
He agreed and then when I ask if he can personally guarantee me the folks would get it, he said, “well, you know the public service, it is not easy to deal with those people.” That statement against the background of my wide experience as an academic and social activist really jolted me.
I never forgot that statement because it holds the key in understanding if Guyana will ever have a future and if young people will ever stay in this land. I will never forget that statement, the one Housing Minister, Valerie Patterson, and then PPP Minister, Indra Chandrapal, said to me. This is why I am writing about it now. Ronald actually repeated that statement when I followed up on the house lot request. Thankfully, the three folks got it.
I went to see Minister Valerie Patterson over corruption in the Central Housing and Planning Authority. I got to see her after two months of trying. The first thing I said to her was that for two months no one answered the dozen of phone lines I called at the ministry. I stood motionless when she explained.
Before I tell you what she said, please remember this was a minister, elected to serve the people of Guyana with emphasis on the word, ELECTED. She told me she understands how I feel about the phone-lines because she has the same experience. She used the word “they” and onto this day, I don’t know who were “they.”
She explained that “they” rerouted the phone-lines so all calls to any person or department have to go through the operator. That was both insanity and asininity. She added that countless times she called from home and couldn’t get through.
This is not how you run a country on behalf of its population. She is the minister. She acts on behalf of the people that voted in her party to office. She has to tell “they” that she wants the lines directed to specific officers so she can reach them when she wants to. “They” were not elected by the people of Guyana, she was.
Finally, Indra Chandrapal when she was a PPP minister. I met her shopping at Merriman’s Mall. Her driver complained to me that for months he did not receive his overtime pay. I told Mrs. Chandrapal that this was not the way to treat working class people. She was sympathetic then floored me with these words, “Bhaai, yuh know de public service.”
The PPP lost power in 2011 and 2015 because of that statement Chandrapal made to me moons ago. The APNU+AFC lost power because of those words Bulkan and Patterson spoke to me. It is stupid to think that people will vote to re-elect you if you couldn’t get things done. Leadership transforms countries. Leadership removes bottlenecks and eradicates old, anachronistic attitudes.
I will never like Donald Trump but whether you like him or not, Trump shakes up old systems. He gets people to act on his edicts. He makes people change. They may not change for the good but they change nevertheless because of him. Bulkan, Patterson and Chandrapal should have called in their staff and read the Riot Act to them. The one thing that had to be said was – “serve the people or leave.”
(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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