Kaieteur News – In his interview last Saturday on The Glenn Lall Show, PLO Lumumba, the iconic anti-corruption activist, said that many of the persons who occupy public office cannot, in good conscience, be referred to as leaders. He referred to those who oversee the plunder of their country’s resources by foreign agents while their citizens wallow in poverty, as misleaders.
Political leaders are supposed to prioritize the public interest and make this supreme over personal gain. However, we have seen so often situations where the personal interests of leaders supersede that of citizens. This is one of the reasons why it is so difficult for some political leaders to resign. They do not wish to give up the personal benefits and perquisites which come with public office. Some of them obtain all manner of gifts, including household items and personal jewellery, on account of the positions they hold. There is a reluctance to give this up.
But even sadder is when some of these same leaders pretend that they are working in the interest of the public to the point where they lie and mislead them. Instead of working for the benefit of the people, their primary interest is to fill their own pockets. Years ago, there was a man named Dr. Walter Ramsahoye who said that persons who are elected to public office should commit to leaving office poorer than when they entered. How many of our leaders can truly say that they have less money when they leave office than when they assumed office?
When our leaders permit the exploitation of the country’s resources on unfair terms; when they do so while their people, as Lumumba says, wallow in poverty, they are failing in a fundamental duty: they are betraying the public trust. And in so doing, they are perpetuating poverty and inequality rather than eradicating them. Guyana’s wealth is its resources. But when this wealth is handed out on a platter to foreign companies then siphon off this wealth to enrich themselves at the expense of the people; when these foreign agents reap enormous benefits while giving back very little to the country; and when this is done with the connivance of a country’s political leaders, this amounts to undermining the country’s development.
Political leaders, who cannot protect the country’s patrimony, are eroding national sovereignty. And this is particularly dangerous for a country like Guyana which has neighbours who have claims on its territory. When these neighbours see our leaders acting weakly when dealing with foreign companies, it emboldens them to take action that threatens national security. But even more so when foreign multinationals have a free-for-all with our resources, our leaders begin to lose control over the management of those resources.
It is easy to recognize the misleaders in our society. They emphasize short-term gains over long-term impact. They are looking to maximize revenues without carefully considering the long-term effects of their decisions. As a result, the natural wealth that could have been harnessed for the benefit of their people is leeched leaving very little for future generations. Yet, it is these same leaders who like to speak about sustainable development.
Allowing a country’s resources to be plundered while people live in need represents poor leadership. The wealth of a country should be used to improve the standard of living of the people, not to enrich a few and favoured classes. Today, it is sad to see oil-rich countries in which people are still scrounging to earn a livelihood. It is sad to see oil executives dining in the finest local restaurants while the poor people are getting excited about who is selling the best egg balls in the country. It is deplorable to see the nation’s wealth being drained away while the people are left with scraps and crumbs.
No one wants unrest and instability. But the experience has been that when social disparities become wider and wider, they often lead to a loss of confidence in leaders and this is one of the main sources of instability and social upheavals. Lumumba was right leaders, who fail to protect their country’s national resources from plunder while the people live in poverty, are unworthy of the title of leader. Those leaders who put foreign interests above that of their people, who seek personal rather than public gain and those who fail to protect the country’s wealth are guilty of betraying the public trust. They cannot and should not be referred to as leaders.
DECEPTION & CORRUPTION getting WORSE by the minute in GUYANA.
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