Sep 14, 2023 Editorial
Kaieteur News – “The meeting was specifically focused on first of all to get an understanding as to where ExxonMobil is at this stage of production. I think they felt that as a government in waiting, they need to update us which they did.” Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Aubrey Norton is making his presence felt, and in a very cordial manner. Any kind of political opposition in this country at this time is better than none.
But Mr. Norton was not done, “In terms of our position, we have outlined some elements to them of our position. We have also indicated to them that our interest lies in ensuring the Guyanese people obtain as much as is possible from the oil and gas sector and that while we see the importance of investment in Guyana, we also see it as important for the Guyanese people to benefit.” Taken together, this is certainly several steps up the ladder for the Opposition PNCR, and its enigmatic leader. We say enigmatic because he is first missing in action, and now here he is in full-bore, double-barreled action.
“As much as possible from the oil and gas sector” for Guyanese is a strange new sound coming out of the Opposition, but we are encouraged, and all Guyana should be, as it watches cautiously. This is music to our ears, and this clear and no quibbling message from Mr. Norton to ExxonMobil is greeted with positively. What could be behind this long-awaited development from the main opposition quarters? How is it and why is it that the Leader of the Opposition is now speaking quietly but meaningfully to the American oil giant?
One factor that could be at work here is that the struggles and sufferings of Guyanese in the richest country in the world are so conspicuous. No one can deny, and none can pretend, that there are many in Guyana, and across all segments of the population, who are barely managing to get by daily. The main underlying factor, though, has to be from inside the PNCR Opposition, where there is recognition that the pressures on the group’s supporters have been intense and enduring. The supporters of the Opposition are feeling left out, and are falling behind, in the great oil game that is going on in Guyana. Without a doubt, Mr. Norton’s ears had to have been bent in every direction, and in every place that he has visited in this country, as to the depths of the anxieties, as well as the level of anguish, that is being felt by his own people.
Though not new, there is the sense that this is what has prompted the Opposition Leader to shake off the rust and faceoff with the people at ExxonMobil, while laying his cards on the table. As he said to his ExxonMobil audience, “we also see it as important for the Guyanese people to benefit.” This has to be the driving force behind Mr. Norton’s (or any other national leader) exchange(s) with ExxonMobil. The Guyanese people are not benefiting enough, not by any stretch of the imagination, nor by any standard or any strand that is connected to reality. For sure, the massive oil wealth is there, but it is as if it belongs to some other people, other than Guyanese outside of the PPPC Government insiders and cabals.
It is clear that Mr. Norton struck the proper balance: there is the appropriate regard, and welcome, for investments. But there is also that missing link, which has dogged the discovery of oil from the first day. It is that Guyanese are not benefiting enough, and this has gone on for too long. At the back of the heads of the people from ExxonMobil spending time with Mr. Norton is the awareness that he is the leading spokesperson for almost half of Guyana’s electorate. Moreover, this significant section of Guyana’s population is angry and impatient, and it would be interesting to observe where all of this leads.
The dynamics have shifted ever so slightly, with some messages shared (or sent). Guyanese want more, need more, and they must get more. This is what we hear, and it is a good, solid sound.
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