Latest update March 20th, 2023 12:59 AM
Mar 10, 2023 Features / Columnists, News, The GHK Lall Column
By GHK Lall
Kaieteur News – I detect that Opposition Leader, Aubrey Norton, has reengineered himself. The problem is that the new Aubrey Norton is now seen as a mixed bag. Some view as the man to lift up both his party and larger country, none more than those disenchanted by the PPP Government excesses; others assess as struggling from he not being the one to deliver from pervasive Guyanese traumas. To many, the new Mr. Norton has transformed into a stranger from the fighter he was renowned to be. Compounding broadening distastes for the Government and its obsessive leadership, disillusionment seeps into the Opposition, strikes at the Leader himself. This is my assessment.
He has a difficult job, forcing him to work with a shortened hand. Nobody cares. His first challenge is to ward off his own within the PNC fold: that ill-fated stillbirth development in Florida. This first public rearing of the head indicated internal dissension and impatience with his way. He looks ahead, with one eye focused everywhere else. His machinery, his strategy, his creativity, his flexibility, and his ferocity are all being questioned sharply. Mr. Norton carries these burdens manfully, but the cracks are there, threaten to grow.
In the broader field of Government galloping up a greasy pole, nimbleness is expected of the Opposition Leader to anticipate and outmanoeuvre, if not outwit, the PPP juggernaut. Everybody wants him to throw down the gauntlet before the PPP, erect a wall, bristle. Danger lurks. He goes hard at the PPP, he risks confirmation of being thuggish, with stripes unchanged. Though disadvantageous to Mr. Norton, he doesn’t have the luxury of bombastic President, or caustic Vice President. His own language must be thought-provoking, profound, but not provocative, with a new identity to match: tempered, modulated, unthreatening. I hear him trying.
In my book, he has to find the skill, the art, the way to get in the PPP leadership’s face without getting up from his seat, without twitching a muscle. Attitude! Exude the compelling. Teflon-coated pronouncements are W-I-P. The President doesn’t have that monopoly. Bullies pause with their plans, scurry in retreat when they sniff a whiff of the real McCoy nearby: if anybody thinks of messing, be up to the testing. Bluntly, it is fine occasionally to flex forbidding eyebrows, to growl a shade more tactically. President and Vice President do it continuously, and get away. I think it is better to present glimpses of what he is really about: not be baited, resist confrontation, but still apply pressure. He is still to cultivate mainstream media with energy and doggedness to get messages across, register postures; his party limits itself to the ghetto of social media, too many lone rangers.
The iron hand is still to flow from Mr. Norton. If he is to make his mark, he must shed the new subdued persona. Friends and enemies, interpret as too much passiveness. There was Mocha, there were men on motorbikes, and there was more madness in Region Nine. The office in Lethem seems to have ‘regularised’ itself, as if subject to some invisible hand jerking some unseen string- PPP’s hands in my estimation. Lines have to be drawn and not in sand. Courts, yes; discontinue elections petitions first. Then try other courts. Engage the PPP, shadow its heels, smartly contest its operating spaces, especially in rural areas.
On the score of oil, the most delicate matter in Guyana, Mr. Norton is over a barrel. He upsets Exxon, and his leadership is over, his party reduced to a plane with one wing, one wheel, and no hospitable landing space. Exxon and America will oversee. Look at what both company and country have done to the PPP today, and which once held America as the personification of evil; nothing but the CIA. Today PPP leaders and cabals suck up to Exxon and America, lick their boots, and run and fetch, like well-trained house pets.
Further, Mr. Norton knows how his PNC benefited for 28 years, when the PPP was kicked into the gutter, although it had numbers, counts, weights favouring. If the PPP became mincemeat, when there was no oil, then a worse fate exists for the PNC (any opposition) should oil be pushed to the front and center. Forget those meaningless conveniences about changed world, democracy, and fairness, the PPP’s existence hinges on oil. Kowtow. Rollover. The PPP big fish knows so. Ditto the PNC, and Mr. Norton, whose hand is in the tiger’s mouth. He comforts foreigners here, and investors elsewhere with welcoming words. The Opposition is the better alternative.
Regardless, I still say that he must work with the cards he has. Pick battles, stand his height, fight at his weight. Somebody has to give, and it should not be Aubrey Norton. I think he missed a few moments that were not ran with; that luxury has ended. Guyanese need an Opposition of substance and skill. It begins with Opposition Leader Norton. He has to up the ante. On himself for starters.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and beliefs of this newspaper and its affiliates.)
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