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OPINION: President Ali and his three planks: unity, transparency, accountability -two doable

By GHK Lall

I extend my best to the new leader and his administration.  They have their work cut out for them, and then some.  I read in the media those three fateful watchwords uttered by the new president, and I recognize a tall order, if ever there was one.  And that is, without any consideration of whether the time and space will be afforded to make good on the stirring promise(s) enshrined in those three meaningful words.

I read President Ali immediately speaking of working for and delivering on unity, transparency, and accountability.  Again, I wish him and his people the best on what I consider to be three very tall orders.  In some respects, those three words mirror the ones that were an inherent component of the French Revolution, viz. liberty, equality, fraternity.  Like the French ones, the Guyanese ones certainly have a nice ring to them.  As always, the proof would be the pudding.

Today, I will not rain on anybody’s parade by mentioning anything about platitudes and soundbites.  Not after what we have been through as a society, with much more hovering and promised in the wings.  But I must say this, if only to register where I stand and what I expect.  I think that some not impractical and not unacceptable degree of transparency and accountability could occur with tremendous diligence and yeoman dedication to what is clean and constructive.  It goes without saying that clean and constructive only could flow from what is idealistic, altruistic, and patriotic.  At bottom, and without any sophisticated language or devices, they come about from what and who is principled and honorable.  As to whether we have it today and will have it in all the tomorrows that follow in a sufficiency of quantity and constancy of quality remains to be seen.  More specifically, I give the benefit of the doubt today that it is, indeed, present and powerful in the incoming leadership (and supporting) cadres.  This is the least I can do, and I do so publicly and early.

So, with the proper alignment of people and practices, I foresee that some level of transparency and accountability could come to pass.  As for the first word in that triumvirate, unity, I think that that one is the worst of troubles and a world of it.  To talk about, even promise to work for, unity in this country of ours is easy.  But any movement, any realization, of even a modicum of progress regarding unity in Guyana is not only the toughest nut to crack, but it is the bitterest pill to swallow.  In fact, I would go so far as to call unity, or attempts at it, the equivalent of a poisoned chalice.  Everyone thinks of unity, nod their heads that we need unity, but few (if any) will work and sacrifice to achieve anything resembling some speck of unity.  Truth be told, we will work against it.  I repeat for emphasis: we will work against unity because it suits narrow, partisan, tribal visions.  The PNC certainly has its body of work and record on social cohesion that stands as a stark reference.  And that went as far as it went before it ran into brick walls, glass walls, cyber walls, and rubber walls.

Personally speaking, unity in this country would be a dream come true for me.  But that is what it has been a dream all along, and one which promises to stay a mirage.  I hate to do this today, but I have an obligation to do so; I ask pardon.  In view of what was our collective experience in the last nineteen months (only that), the passions are so deep and powerful that speaking about and approaching for unity would only be greeted with the stoniest of hearts and countenances.  I suspect that this is not only from across the divide, but also within the ranks of the rulership fold and its wider surrounding cast.  No reception.  No traction.  No projection.  No acceleration.

I regret being so pessimistic on the probability of even partial success re unity, but I have no choice, and there is nothing that persuades me otherwise, given my understanding of things Guyanese.  I will go so far (again) as to say that regarding unity, we like how we are and where we are.  The authenticity of inclination and dynamism of purpose are too glaringly lacking to help us get anywhere on this one.  Still, it is worth a try.  But I hasten to add, whatever is done, just let it be genuine.

Once again, my best to Mr. Ali and his team as they gear up and square off to deal with the myriad challenges that wait.  And I do apologize for striking such a negative note so early.