OPINION: Excellency Ali -a study in the surly, anxiety, and timidity

Last Updated on Wednesday, 26 June 2024, 13:06 by Writer

by GHK Lall

In Shakespeare’s Richard III, the endangered king cried out, “A horse, a horse! My kingdom for a horse…” (Act 5, Scene 4). In Guyana, the people also cried out, ‘a president, a president, anything for a president.’ Look first at what they were willing to trade and give, then examine what they got in return. A warrior-prevaricator-dodger-jester of unparalleled dimensions.

Where do I begin to tell this story? President Ali stirs whimsy in countless citizens. A question as simple as a song is posed, and His Excellency gears up for war, declares it. There is recognition of President Ali’s tone. It is fitting for battlefield engagements, not press ones in a supposedly democratic society. I have long concluded that he is at war with Guyanese, like King John was with his English subjects. Thinking about this, I believe that Excellency Ali sees Guyanese less as citizens, and more as subjects. For questions that do not find favor with him, it seems that his preference would be for the questioner(s) to be seen and not heard (maybe not even that)! There are the usual media suspects. They have developed a knack at unsettling President Ali, make him lose his cool. His mind struggles with the same challenge. It is a tense environment, these press weigh-ins, where some questions shouldn’t be asked of the president. The simple reason is that they have a bearing on what he fears touching, so he goes into warrior mode to snuff out; because to address with a free mind, tell the whole story, represents political danger. What he rears up against and rants at has its unique logic. Cost of living is indirectly attached to oil; meaningful oil developments heavily influence cost of living conditions. Guyanese shouldn’t be living how they are today. The cost of day-to-day existence is too steep and too many Guyanese have nothing left to climb.

Instead of Excellency Ali bravely peeling that onion, he got on his warhorse and brandished his sword last week. I target disposable income and house lots. Does the president grasp the full scope of what that means, the reality of Guyanese where such income is concerned? Simply put, it is money in hand. Money for spending. Money for saving. Money for more than basics, say, a little extra, a small treat. Neither Excellency Ali nor I need to be an authority at the Central Bank or the Bureau of Statistics to know that disposable income is not enough, and by more than a negligible margin. For the best tests of any local hypothesis or defensive posture, SN’s weekly national embarrassment, village by village, is presented. Hear the cry of the people: the cost of living is crippling, is killing; to stretch the little money is to risk a hernia, or a cardiovascular episode. Indeed, energy subsidies have helped, and the cash for kids is well received. Since I have zero anxiety about attracting the comical rage of Excellency Ali (a powderpuff bruiser), the reliefs extended are finger foods and snacks. How about an entrée a day, Dr President? Just once a day, like the vitamin people recommend. Then, disposable income has meaning. Today, when Guyanese cannot feed themselves fully and properly, then there is nothing left for savings, [not even a li’l box-hand], Comrade Ali. This brings me to the house lot exposition by the leader.

First, this business about house lots is one big farce, mostly funny. Both the PPP and PNC thunder about how many house lots have been handed over during their respective reigns. Reigning it has been, not governing. Goddammit! No one is giving citizens anything. This land is their land (my own too), and that is not Trini Lopez. All the PPP and PNC are doing is giving back to Guyanese what is theirs. So be done with that deception. Second, when locals don’t have enough money to buy food, then the meagerness of their disposable income bars thinking of obtaining a house lot by themselves. They must borrow from sympatico family, friends, and well-wishers. I can give an affidavit or two. The new house lot owners are indebted. Next, they must prep the precious possession and may have to scrounge around again if they don’t have enough able-bodied to lend a hand. More debt. Last, it is time for a mortgage. Great indebtedness. The disposable income of which Excellency Ali is so maniacal and fulsome suddenly looks like the story of slavery in America. Recall how the Confederates used to extol how happy the Africans were, never had it so good. It is the same with President Ali—Guyana’s enthralling raconteur with his Great Guyana Story. Under the PPP, of course. The big money is offshore, but he dodges going there, and comes with his hollow propaganda about disposable income and Xmas gifts back to the people (lots). The offshore people handcuff him and his government, and he extends the favor by keeping Guyanese in check with his disposable income and house lot frivolousness. Interesting how Guyana’s two presidents declare war against locals to avoid confronting that destructive underwater presence.