Shuman is about political power rather than development for Guyana, inclusive of Indigenous communities
LENNOX Shuman is an ambitious young Guyanese with political aspirations, which has been taken to its officially-announced level, with the formation of his Liberty and Justice Party (LJP). But he is arrogant, as is clearly displayed by statements publicly made some time ago, when he said that if Amerindians do not get what they should have, there would be a political cost of political support.
Also, he would have been known to criticise the coalition A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance for Change (APNU+AFC) government, for allegedly not doing enough for Indigenous peoples. This was a call to political opportunism, since it was clear that he was making a pitch for leadership, issuing statements about socio-economic development for his Indigenous brethren from a purely uninformed position, because of absence from Guyana, although he had served as Toshao of his community for a period.
What Shuman perhaps did not understand, or perhaps not realise, was that the Hinterland Development Strategy, deployed throughout Indigenous communities since 2015, had begun to bring about impacting changes that were removing this segment of the Guyanese nation from its subsistence level of dependency to a gradual level of self-sustainability through a multi-pronged programme of empowerment of Indigenous women; bringing economic projects to communities for providing citizens with employment opportunities of a self-sustainability nature, for themselves and communities; the opening of skills training centres that have attracted scores of Indigenous youths, many of whom would have since graduated to their own businesses; ICT facilities, and radio communications which today have facilitated a better informed Indigenous people and their communities, but which have also been reducing the mental distance between hinterland and coastland.
Billions have been spent on vital infrastructure such as roads and bridges, providing for better inter-connectivity among hinterland communities, while fostering economic activity; electrification; building of more schools and health centres, that have been moving the nation’s largest geographic space from its traditional backwater, into the highway of modern development; and the upgrading of scores of aerodromes. And there is more to sing the praises of the coalition’s socio-economic development programmes, in the form of gushing commendations from Indigenous community leaders, who continue to hail the marked development progress being experienced within their regions, compliments of the coalition government.
But fast forward to Shuman’s candidature as presidential nominee for his party, apparently finally settled with GECOM, and his statement about preventing either of the two larger parties from gaining a parliamentary majority. Does one detect a subtle hint here of garnering votes from Indigenous communities because of mere ethnic identification? In asking this question, one must have discerned Shuman’s silence on criticising the government, simply because of what it would have done for hinterland communities and Indigenous Peoples, what no other administration prior, had ever done for these well deserving people. And this would have also included the right to making their own communal decision, especially with regards their Village Improvement Plans, a right denied them by the former PPP/C.
Of course, it is Shuman’s right to dream big on the national political stage, but where is his programme for the hinterland, especially, and by extension, Guyana? He must say, in quite clear terms, what different can he do for Indigenous Peoples and their hinterland communities that the ‘Coalition’ has not done, as well as how does he tie it in with the whole of national development.
Mr. Shuman must be reminded, as well as all the other parties and their leaders, inclusive of the PPP/C, that it is one thing to aspire to, and gain, political power; but, the biggest challenge is always the vision to utilize this most potent of personal acquisitions: whether for selfish and criminal ends like the PPP/C had done for its over two decades of office; or for the benefit and whole of the nation and people, irrespective of ethnicity/race and political affiliation, such as what the APNU+AFC government has overwhelmingly proven, in just over four years of being entrusted with the mandate to govern.