After 20-plus years and a sordid record, what good can we expect from Jagdeo?
Any government headed by anyone will be better than one headed by Bharrat Jagdeo, or by another with him as the de facto leader. He is only interested in power, and by now it is clear to all Guyanese that Irfaan Ali’s name as presidential candidate is no more than a façade.
In less than a month, Guyana’s fate will be decided at the polls, and each eligible voter will take responsibility for the choices they make, whether they vote or don’t vote for Guyana’s future. As Martin Carter said, all are involved and all are consumed.
We expect Guyanese will be able to move forward either peacefully or in constant fear of marginalisation, recrimination, discrimination, economic deprivation. Governance under Jagdeo is not only unforgettable but in many instances unforgivable. We can never forget the unprecedented level of corruption, misuse of government land and self-enrichment projects.
How can we forget the ‘treason charges’ and other acts of jailing/locking people up for daring to dissent; the extra-judicial killings and the number of businessmen, police and ordinary citizens killed in turf and gang wars as government seemed uncaring to arrest the situation; the proliferation of the narco economy and the get rich quick syndrome where our youth were more motivated to fill their pockets than to earn an honest living; the rise of ageism.
It is unforgivable the willful division of the trade union movement; discrimination in budgetary allocation; taking away of the trade union subventions in attempts to marginalise/silence the voice of the GTUC, cripple the economically dispossessed and workers’ opportunity for further advancement; refusal to honour agreements with the trade union and Opposition; devaluing of the Office; corruption of the police force; U.S withdrawal of government officials’ visas, unprecedented in this country; management of the jail break and chaos that reigned after.
These are not just a case of badmouthing but all evidence-based indisputable facts. The reason why Jagdeo needs to be kept at bay is not just an error or two in judgment or project he didn’t get right; it is about the heightened division he deliberately nurtured, the social unrest he created, overtly and covertly, putting Guyana on the brink of failure, making it into a pariah state, rated by Transparency International as the most corrupt in the English-speaking hemisphere.
I have lived through various regimes and you can find positive and negative in all. This is the reality around the world, but when you have a government where fear stalks, there is reason to be concerned.
Come March 3rd do we move forward with the assurance that the affairs of state will be managed not necessarily by a perfect government but one in whom you can place your trust and confidence that all, regardless of race, ethnicity or geographic location will be able to peacefully co-exist, and enjoy the goodwill of a regime prepared to govern in the interest of all not just from whom support can be guaranteed?
This government is one where Jagdeo pursued a vendetta to destablise and stop them. Yet still they were able to make strides, even as they had to navigate their way through a successful confidence vote. Whereas the PPP faced one before they did not allow it to come to a vote.
This government has brought about a level of peace and more even development. There is less tension in the society. There is more openness in society. It is still growing and there is a potential for more. We can see more responsiveness to the societal concerns as evident in the release of the Exxon contract and US$18M signing bonus. There is greater effort being made to allow constitutional bodies to work without political interference, such as the Public Procurement Commission and GECOM, where no longer the government’s spokesperson directs what must happen as done during the Jagdeo administration.
Notably too is the effort to streamline the economy by signing on to the AML/CTF that helped to monitor and reduce the free flow of money laundering activities, which was resisted by the PPP government. There is greater effort to fight corruption as noted by Transparency International Corruption Index (2019) where Guyana jumped 34 points, registering significant improvement in the last eight years.
Noted too is the effort to improve morale by setting out to make the police force more professional and accountable through capacity building, and the Public Service through the Bertram Collins College. There is a little more trust and confidence in the promises of this administration as against the previous, in instance such as the promise to remove university fees and the PPP now promising to do same after having imposed it.
The average (or most) government doesn’t get it right the first term, but what you do is judge them based on their challenges they faced and ability to overcome them. This government is still growing, but we have seen what Jagdeo has done. These are the choices we have – a new government that is making efforts as against another one that has failed the people.