Jun 16, 2022 News
By Shervin Belgrave
Kaieteur News – President Mohamed Irfaan Ali, was in swell mood on Wednesday during an outreach in Bartica, Region Seven, until a female farmer’s question about Guyana’s oil blocks angered him.
The President’s outreach was held at the Bartica Community Centre Ground and began at around 11:00hrs. After delivering a dramatic speech about his government’s vision for the country, Ali decided to open the floor for the Barticans, who attended, to voice their concerns and ask him questions.
The question and answer segment was going well and the President was happy as he listened to residents’ request for better roads, culverts, good drainage systems, small business grants and loans. He looked so concerned and appeared as though he really cared about the Barticans as he jotted down notes and offered on the spot solutions to their problems but when a question about “oil blocks” by the female farmer was asked Ali became angry. The woman’s exact words were: “Ah want to ask you what happen to the oil blocks, tell we something about the oil blocks”.
That question immediately changed the President’s mood and it was quite evident that he got annoyed. Ali got so angry that he shouted at the audience and the woman while making his response. His remarks were so harsh that the crowd began to laugh when he was lashing out at the farmer who asked for a simple explanation about her wealth. The loud tone of his voice and words he spoke apparently intimidated the woman because she disappeared from the outreach soon after.
She had stood up confidently when the microphone was handed to her to ask her questions and related to the President some of the problems she faces as a resident of the region. The woman started off by following up a concern raised by another farmer about being hampered by bad roads to transport produce from the distant areas in the community to central Bartica. “Mr. President I am a farmer too,” the woman said, adding that another problem faced by farmers is the lack of transportation to bring out their produce from their farms.
She related currently that there is only one little car owned by a farmer and all of them depend on it to transport their crops from their farms. The woman requested that the President help them with transportation to bring out their produce. However, before taking her seat the woman said: “And I have one more question, ah want ask yuh wah happen to the oil blocks, tell us something about the oil blocks”.
At first a section of the crowd cheered her for asking such a question. Probably they expected Ali to respond calmly or in a positive way, but his response left several in the audience shocked. His face changed and he started off by mockingly saying, “We have said that the oil blocks are being auctioned off, we are auctioning off the oil blocks, if she wants (referring to the woman) she could submit a bid fuh one”.
The tone of his voice then rose sharply as he continued, “I don’t know how much time we have to explain this thing.” Ali then added, “We could either choose to leave the oil or use it for the prosperity of Guyana and the rest of the Caribbean.” The President then started lashing out at the woman.
He said that instead of trying to be negative and ridicule, Guyanese should find out how other countries, they sometimes proudly talk about, became highly developed and rich. “But in this country when we are blessed with natural resources we have people that see all kinds of jumbie in that blessing”, Ali shouted.
It was at this point that a section of the crowd began laughing and probably it motivated Ali to continue ranting. “They don’t see the realisation of better hope, of a better future, they don’t contribute to the debate that would lead to how we translate this (speaking about oil) to that better future”, the President ranted during his lengthy response to the woman’s question.
He then spoke directly to her and said: “You yourself asked for transportation to bring out the produce, I want to give you the transportation but you know what will help me do it faster, the revenue that will help to build the infrastructure that will support agriculture, that will help you with the subsidies that you want for your input in agriculture, that will help to build the modern infrastructure, that will create a services industry”.
The President then tried to boast during his angry response by stating that Guyanese should be contented that oil is bringing in investors to build hotels so that they can have jobs. “You think those six, seven hotels that are coming now would have come. Guyana existed a long time before oil. Those seven hotels that are coming will employ hundreds of thousands of Guyanese, don’t you see that”, the President said.
He then sought to make it appear as though the woman’s question was irrelevant by adding that Guyanese must be factual and understand the reality and not just “gaff.”
“This is not a President that is interested in gaffing. This is a President that is interested in doing. So if yuh want to gaff, if yuh want ,you can call “Critic” (a social media personality known as the Guyanese Critic) and them boys and gaff”, the President told the woman sternly as the crowd and the master of ceremonies laughed at her.
Kaieteur News has been on the fore front exposing how Guyana has been shortchanged with its oil resources. Although the government is moving to auction off some of the oil blocks, a lopsided contract with ExxonMobil’s Subsidiary, EEGPL for the Stabroek oil block, one of the most lucrative oil blocks, empowers Guyana’s minister to allow the company not to give up the unused portions.
Apart from this Exxon has been making billions of US dollars in profits from Guyana’s oil while Guyanese receive hundreds of millions. In fact, the President of United States of America (USA) Joe Biden stated recently that Exxon “made more money than God this year” and wants Exxon to stop cheating its own home country of taxes. Meanwhile, Guyana signed a deal committing to pay taxes for Exxon.
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