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OPINION: Natural Resource Fund board -so much for inclusion, for representation

Last Updated on Friday, 4 March 2022, 7:59 by Denis Chabrol

by GHK Lall

I had no doubts before.  All Guyanese should now have enough to see the light, as how the leaders in the PPPC Government intend to, are bent on, governing this bitter and boiling below the surface country.  It is that whenever the PPPC Government sets its sight on something and settles on a name, then it is over, nothing else matters in its democracy.  There were two different news captions that told essentially the same queasy story.  The first was on March 3rd and titled, “Outvoting opposition nominees from Natural Resource Fund reflects PPPC’s “politics of exclusion” -PNCR”, while the second was “Govt. flayed for grabbing all seats of oil fund board” (KN March 4).  There is not much more left to be said, as to how this country is shaping up, and where it is heading inevitably.

These two articles of our oil oversight speak to the usual divisive politics of Guyana, and is barren regarding anything that is of governance, inclusive governance; some li’l pappy show of what resembles inclusion, and broad, consistent attempts by rulers at inclusiveness.  It is the never-ending reality-hard, heavy, and harmful to this country-that is of governments speaking from two sides of their mouths, but always coming back to the same two things: segregation and polarization.  I warn again: in such are sown the seeds of our own self-destruction.

For, on the one hand, the leaders in the PPPC Government wax sweetly about some phantom named ‘One Guyana’ but, on the other, there is this troubling development involving the Natural Resource Fund, the mother of all our potential monies.  The President, Vice president, and Prime Minister, all honorable Guyanese without peer (depends on how one considers what constitutes honorable, of course) have been scintillating in touting ‘One Guyana.’  But just like the minibus men around the market square engaged in that same touting industry of political maestros, it involves the same pushing and pulling of citizens apart, through clever Guyanese political wordsmithing.  Meaning that nothing is going anywhere, certainly not this jumbie called ‘One Guyana’, which has a nice ring, but turns out be the dullness of brass, and not the glitter of the golden opportunity that it is made out to be for all Guyana.

It cannot be, when at every turn and opportunity that could offer a moment of hope, of some beginning to mending, with the understanding that we are far distant from any kind of national healing, PPPC Government leaders finds ways to poison the well of Guyana’s divisions further, stronger.  From my perspective, ‘One Guyana’ is a cruel joke wreaked upon the naïve and trusting, the hopeful; and, I say the same for the Natural Resource Fund board composition.  In fact, I am struggling to detect, which one is the bigger joke.  Because it is my belief that this oil blessing, now transforming from these early days into the worst of curses, could have been the bandage that bind us.  To present it differently, these billions of barrels of oil, with more billions highly probable in the discovering, could serve as the apparatus to make us think of this country as a place of ‘One nation, with One people, heading for One destiny’.  But it is not to be.

Not when someone of the proven prowess of Dr. Vincent Adams is unacceptable.  Not when a citizen of the caliber of a Chris Ram is considered one who sees too much, knows too much, and talks too much.  It cannot be when there was the slightest of openings to extend a hand, to create the space, to carve out a place for someone nominated by the opposition to the oil fund board is bypassed, ignored, dismissed.  Pick any other verb that pleases, and the result is the same.  It is my belief that an opposition nominee being allowed on the board would have facilitated a couple of things.  A presence and voice, with the necessary character taken for granted, that served as a check and balance, that slightest of braking possibility.  For sure, one on the tiniest of minorities, and for all intents and purposes, powerless; but nevertheless, a sentinel from another part of the continuum of Guyana’s politics.  Well, it is not to be, and whatever justification for what we have now doesn’t matter anymore, have no meaning for me.  It shouldn’t be for those who still can think for themselves.

The sum of all this is that the PPPC Government and leader (the one controlling the show, not the President) have all the say, make all the determinations, and carry through on all conclusions, which starts and completes with the naming of all the members to the oil fund board.  Because however the Private Sector nominee (another farce) is finalized, it is owned by the government, and of that there should be no need for explanation or elaboration.  It must be borne in mind always that those who represent almost half the voting electorate are as good as locked out and impotent, if not nonexistent, where Guyana’s oil management and riches are concerned.  As an aside, I must commend the PPPC Government for its studied trickiness: it ensured that its color coding in the composition of the board was just right, and could pass any seeming colorblind tests.  With a bow to the man who made the cut heard he is clean), I think this extends the joke still some more, twists the knife deeper, given his own ancient political heritage.

Oil is the biggest thing to ever hit this land.  But here we are with one of the biggest segments of this nation’s population effectively blocked from any participation in its handling.  Oil has now become the biggest bludgeon, which leaders in the PPPC Government use to broadside and batter the unwanted and unwelcomed half (approx.) of Guyana out of consideration, out of participation, and out of contention.  This is the stark and sinister hand behind ‘One Guyana.’  Be warned, it could lead to ominous places.