Last Updated on Friday, 21 April 2023, 18:41 by Denis Chabrol
By GHK Lall
Guyanese stirred from their slumber recently. It had to do with political excitement. What else could it be, when nothing but the hysteria and ecstasy of elections can drive Guyanese to a state of frenzy? To top it all off, the excitement was not over national elections, it was about LGE. No! LGE is not one of those British Airways flight leaving out of Heathrow or Gatwick, but of Local Government Elections. Are we starved for entertainment, or what?
Imagine that! LGE could light a fire under both the PPP and PNC, and get them to bring out their slates, and their people to support. The first thought that came was that I had a clean shot at winning the mayorship of Georgetown, given the candidates fielded by the respective parties. No swing at anyone, but the thinking was that I had a good, strong shot as a contender. My slogan would have been: a Clean candidate for a Clean Capital City. As an Independent, of course, and nothing else. I move along since that time had passed about 20 years ago.
The second thought that came with a rush was how clever our political leaders and groups are. Local Government triumph means access to the levers of power, and power means money, among many other things. So, our political leaders come alive, and hit the rafters with their high notes about who is going to do what, and how they are bent on bringing about change. These guys are real circus performers, aren’t they? I give to the Vice President and Leader of the Opposition their well-earned Academy Awards.
It is interesting that they can, at the drop of a hat, develop such energy, such intensity, such potency when elections is the subject at hand. Any kind, even local ones. I think of this, and the intriguing flows like a river that has been undammed. It would be interesting and intriguing if both the Hon. Vice President and the Hon Leader of the Opposition could summon the strength, would dig deep within themselves and find the art and science, the skill and the courage, to deliver that identical degree of passion, that great spark of life, to faceoff and fling down the gauntlet before Exxon.
But, of course, there is sanctity of contract, which is the perfect cover for leadership weakness, for possible drift of political principle. Because I am learning all the time, I have come to appreciate that political and principle do not go together in Guyana. It is why we have this hullabaloo about LGE, and not so much as a heartfelt stand for Guyanese on what is of infinitely greater substance, oil. I ask my fellow Guyanese to consider the spectacle of Guyanese massed not for LGE, but for better from their oil patrimony. Naturally, that would present a predicament for Exxon left in a most precarious position. That would be the will of the people; it would be much wiser to deal with the will of the thwarted and frustrated Guyanese than to have to experience the full bore of their rage. The same blast furnace rage that is kept in reserve for elections seasons.
I think that the thrusts of positions should be emerging by now. The Vice President and Opposition Leader can snap of a finger bring out their people to cavort and carry on in the streets. But for some strange reason, they are unable to do the same to reverse the horrifying terms of an oil contract that leaves the same people dancing in the streets gasping for breath. I don’t think that it is so much that they are unable, it is more that they are unwilling to take that momentous step from which there can be no turning back. That is, until Guyana succeeds in snatching a few chestnuts out of Exxon’s overflowing financial oven.
In saying this publicly, I am sure that my fellow Americans, Excellency Lynch and Mr. Routledge, lose any fondness that they may have had for me. But this, I take pains to remind them, is not a popularity contest, or one about likes and the like. It is of the long-delayed prosperity of the Guyanese people, as well as the low games played with that mother of all priorities. If for nothing else, LGE provides the kind of convincing revelation to Guyanese that they need, of the kind of leaders that they have.
For sure, LGE have their place of importance in domestic considerations, and with that I have no difference. What I do have a problem with is how anemic and lifeless our main political leaders are with oil, and wresting with Exxon for better for Guyana. Meanwhile, without missing a beat, they are already baring their teeth and perfecting their snarls to put down the other. This is not even about misplaced priorities and misspent energies anymore. Rather, it is the alarming evidence of how conveniently focused our leaders can be, on the things that pale into insignificance, when our oil wealth and our oil share are the elephants on the table. If the PPP and PNC leadership can be about this for LGE, then why not the same for the 2016 PSA that kills us dead, with drop by drop of our precious oil drained?