Massive national overhaul needed for true human development- Lawyer Hughes

Last Updated on Saturday, 17 February 2024, 12:44 by Denis Chabrol

Attorney-at-Law Nigel Hughes

Attorney-at-Law Nigel Hughes on Friday recommended a wide-ranging overhaul of Guyana’s political, educational and economic systems so that all Guyanese benefit from the country’s wealth in an era where ideology is no longer a barrier.

Among his recommendations is that there be truth and reconciliation of atrocities that had been committed over the decades while at the same time craft a political system to allow for effective and efficient governance of the nation. “We must embrace truth and reconciliation,  accept equal responsibility for past heresies, and demonstrate  a commitment to mutual respect and good governance, all built on the recognition that we are in the same boat, which can only go forward if there is cohesive paddling in a direction collectively agreed upon,” he said.

He said Guyana needs to start acknowledging that the current political architecture of the country is woefully inadequate and inappropriate  for the development of fair, just and modern Guyana. The country’s winner-take-all proportional representation system allows for the winner of an election with a minimum of 51 percent of the votes and for the Representative of the List of Candidates, often times the party leader, to determine who is a parliamentarian rather than by direct election of constituency candidates.

He said building a nation from ground zero minus one requires a commitment to build Guyana based on equality,  equal participation, equal rights  and justice for all. In particular, he said Guyanese need to first acknowledge their ethnic realities, economic, social and political. “We must start with a commitment to the fair, just and realistic participation of the citizenry in the decision making processes of the country,” he said.

Mr Hughes had previously recommended that certain decisions be made by a supermajority instead of a simple majority.

He issued the call at lecture organised by the Burnham Foundation to mark the 101st birth anniversary of the Founder- Leader of the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) and Guyana’s co-architect of political independence from Britain.

“Government funded business incubator’s for the business development of our people at all levels, community schools,  high school , secondary school, technical colleges and Universities are now mandatory,” he said in his lecture titled “Guyana needs to restart from ground zero.”

Mr Hughes noted that over the decades, Guyana has shifted from a common ideological platform to a split between leftists and the moderates when the original People’s Progressive Party (PPP) broke up in 1955. After a common embrace of socialism that had eventually raised a real prospect of political reunification just prior to Burnham’s death in August 1985.

Mr Hughes indicated that the PNCR, under Desmond Hoyte, and eventually the PPP became market-oriented, but the race-based political landscape persists. Against that background, he recommended that hard facts must be used to drive Guyana’s development. “Disaggregated data collection and its deployment to drive policy  must be a mandatory requirement of a new Guyana. Polices driven by the disaggregated data must be embedded in the National development Programme,” he said. He stressed that inequality and rumors of inequality could only be addressed if Guyanese start off from a position that disaggregated data is “a critical element for identifying unserved, underserved and disserved communities in our Guyana.”

With everything now being determined by the marketplace rather than State-control of almost all economic life, Mr Hughes said education, information, information technology, their  management and the advent of artificial intelligence are the areas which must pre occupy Guyana’s national development planning.

In terms of oil wealth, he said citizens should be prepared to participate by equipping them with the highest levels of management and investment skills in order to avoid the vagaries of a very sophisticated, militarized and polarized world.