Oct 02, 2021 Editorial
Kaieteur News – Most places blessed with commercial quantities of oil ended up cursed. It’s as if the curses are to compensate for the generosity of providence, nature, and circumstances. They end up being failed states, still poorer places, with divided and raging sections. And all of those same failed oil-rich societies have one common defining characteristic that stand as their biggest curse of all. It is that greedy, crooked, criminal leaders are running the oil show.
Advanced countries, like the United States, Canada, and those in Europe, rise up above the leadership curse, because they have robust structures, many checks and balances, some corporate accountability, influential watchdog groups, powerful pressure groups, among other arrangements. On the other hand, impoverished largely coloured Third World countries live with a different reality. From Africa to Latin America to the Caribbean, and now Guyana, it is the same sick and dispiriting tale repeated again and again.
Political leaders with unchallengeable power (Nigeria, Angola, and Venezuela) tell hopeful dependent peoples of their struggling societies how well they are doing for them, plan to do for them, then stab those same citizens in the back. The same people who voted for them are ignored repeatedly and shamelessly. Oftentimes, things have deteriorated so far that arrogant leaders don’t bother to consider the intelligence, or reasoning capacity of their citizens, so contemptuous they become, so determined they are to cheat the people.
After decades as an oil-producing nation, Nigeria is worse off than before. It is the same sad situation in nearby Trinidad and Tobago, also a decades-long oil producing nation, which was confirmed in the news article titled, “TT’s oil and gas sector has been a slow train wreck for the last decade -Lack of transparency, accountability among major issues to be blamed -Energy Expert, Anthony Paul” (KN October 1). The key lies in only two of those words: ‘transparency’ and ‘accountability’.
When transparency is lacking, there is no proper accountability. Citizens of the Twin-Island Republic were long the toast of the region, due to their oil wealth, but look at them now; for today, they are looking to Guyana to get a footing and start over. Despite decades of pumping oil, our neighbours are struggling, emigrating to wherever would take them. Crime is a rampaging monster, while racial tensions are sharp, with the usual finger pointing, which is all that politicians have left going for them. Indeed it has been, as Anthony Paul said, “a slow train wreck.” One would think that Guyanese leaders, newly in charge of a nation that is blessed with abundant oil discoveries, would want to avoid completely, the oil pitfalls experienced by other countries. They don’t have to go far, for Trinidad and Tobago is just next door. That is, if our political leaders, in both the previous Coalition Government and currently in the PPP Government, were interested in learning of the harsh lessons from those who let the bright dream slip away because they were too consumed by personal covetousness.
While Trinidad and Tobago was “a slow train wreck” Guyana has been an early runaway bus, with little driver control left, or brakes (safety systems) to apply to stop carnage from the beginning. Those same two words, transparency and accountability, or the absence of both, that devastated our once oil rich brethren, have taken a stranglehold here, because leaders have neither time nor interest in either. As we said earlier, commitment to one means that the other must also happen to be devoted to, since they go together.
What we have here are tricks for transparency and accountability. We have a President who says things are transparent, knowing fully well that it is a verbal fabrication, a heavy untruth, and offer it for public consumption. It is what he says it is, and to hell with what anybody else says. That is accountability for President and his Vice President, who is so transparent that he hides from any probing light. Both President and Vice President are so accountable that they put material oil reports under lock and key with police guards in riot gear to lock out truth from the nation. Guyana is not a slow train wreck, but an out-of-control truck. Guyana, watch out.
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