OPINION: Like Drs. Ali and Jagdeo, Mr. Norton promises much; they haven’t delivered; he must

Last Updated on Saturday, 29 June 2024, 14:34 by Writer

By GHK Lall

The man of the moment is Mr. Aubrey C. Norton. His mantle is to be the man for the times ahead. On a surge of support from his comrades, an almost unanimous verdict is his to run with, in the course that he charts. I say almost because there were those notable absences that spoke so much of the wounds that still fester deep inside of the PNC. It must reform itself before it can address reform in Guyana. The Guyana that we all look for in the distinctiveness of the country’s presence. The economic standing and realities of its countless peoples. Countless in the fusions of the races, profuse in the blends that result. It is no use, almost a cheap insult, the worst of slurs, to hail the Guyanese people as the richest per capita on the globe and there is so much that is missing that stunt their rising, drain their aspirations.

Opposition Leader Norton must be distinctive in how he pushes ahead, what he makes his highest priority. To be clear, it is not how he has to be, or what he should try to do. It is how and what he must be. Possess and power ahead through a rare local distinctiveness that is compelling because it is different. Aubrey Norton cannot be like President Mohamed Irfaan Ali and Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo. He cannot be cowardly nor cringing as them where this oil is concerned. It is what has paralyzed the imperatives of this nation, the true prosperity of all its peoples. Not stupendous prosperity for comrades and cronies, but genuine prosperity for all. There is enough oil, enough production, enough of a present global pricing regime, to make the prosperity of all Guyanese possible. Today, not tomorrow. Right now, and not that misty mirage that former president Jagdeo has made his mantra, and which is all but meaningless. Dr. Jagdeo is outstanding at promising. To my regret, he has been singularly disappointing at delivering. Ditto the excitable and vocally pugnacious Excellency Ali. If he were a wrestler, he would do well. As a political leader with the world of Guyana at his fingertips, Mohamed Irfaan Ali has been pathetic and exemplary in what is impotent.

Aubrey Norton cannot be like Dr. Ali or Dr. Jagdeo: they make promises and then they lose their memory about doing so. Then they lose that part of their anatomy that separate real men from others. Last, they lose the trust that is due to national leaders in a time like never before, because they have squandered every confidence placed in them. They have played with the confidence of Guyanese; done well to earn one of those derogatory labels that identify those who setup the naïve and gullible for a skinning, then a financial killing. Mr. Norton made his own promises at the PNC Congress. He must stick to them, fulfill them to the nth degree, for when he doesn’t, then he is no different from Ali and Jagdeo. In the harshest term possible, no matter how much all three of them win in walkovers internally, when they fail to challenge the hegemony of Exxon with Guyana’s oil, then the best that they amount to are national losers. Guyanese lose again for thinking that Captain Generals Ali and Jagdeo would prove to be true. On Aubrey Norton’s head rests that uneasy crown, with the weight of great expectations similarly vested in him. Two of our brothers have shown that they are not up to the powerful challenges at hand, and miserably so. Mr. Norton must not make it three in a row.

He has said of how much he would initiate in his first 100 days, if he succeeds in making the national leadership grade. Like I shared with the president and vice president, the ownership of this great oil wealth places Guyana (and them) in the driver’s seat, contract or no contract. They haven’t even tried in standing up and facing down and pushing for a showdown with Exxon and the other Americans. This is where and how Mr. Norton could separate himself from that sorry duo. He must know something by now. In addition to its commercial value, this oil also has geopolitical and geostrategic value. Exxon gets its piece of the former, but it cannot continue to be so big. America wants its reliable presence here and its own influence here. Those are not cheap, should no longer be as cheap as they have been.

Youth money, poor people money, equitable sharing of the money, and all the other matters involving oil money that needs the most urgent attention. Those featured prominently in Mr. Norton’s address to his PNC audience. It goes without saying that corruption involving all the money was emphasized by Mr. Norton. There is corruption in those oil conversations. If such conversations are held at all, they have not resulted in material difference for Guyanese across the board. And, when those testing oil conversations are not prioritized, not fought for, then volumes can be written about the corruption that has devastated the political realm. Mr. Norton mentioned again in the warm confines of Congress of how he will be in his first 100 days if such materializes. Today, now, his training begins. It is public in the sparks that he manifests. It can be uplifting in the strengths that he represents. He pussyfoots, he will pay a price. I urge the OL to absorb where President Ali and VP Jagdeo are in terms of their own followers. They are held in contempt for not fighting for Guyanese, dismissed. It should mean something to him. The first 100 days must glisten with promises kept. The first 100 days starts now.