OPINION: Nigel Hughes passed the first post; he has two bigger ones looming

Last Updated on Sunday, 30 June 2024, 17:17 by Writer

by GHK Lall

Nigel Hughes has cleared the first hurdle. He has got some others coming his way, and they promise to test him in so many ways. His maneuvering skills, backroom strengths, broad-based appeal, and starting to deliver on some of what he has made his heartfelt positions will all be subjected to grueling challenges. How much staying power he has will become apparent before long. His triumph in the AFC’s leadership contest is the spur to go for all the marbles, including the biggest one of all: the consensus presidential candidate. On paper he has one good thing going for him; on the other hand, behind-the-scenes reality is a more formidable proposition. Given my own positions about Mr. Hughes’s potential national candidacy for president of Guyana, the hope is that it is not an insurmountable one.

Opposition Leader Aubrey Norton is on record as being open to a consensus presidential candidate. I think that it is a position that is practical, one in which neither the Opposition Leader nor his party has much choice. Bluntly put, the PNC does not have the numbers. More bluntly presented, Mr. Norton does not have the requisite pulling power to take him and his group over the finish line. In the place of highest honor, that is. There is nothing algorithmic or exotic about this, simply what the territory holds. Mr. Norton may know this, but may not be willing to say so publicly, which explains, in part, his bow to realpolitik and electoral arithmetic, his willingness to stand aside and let a consensus candidate for president lead that fight. From my calculations, there is none better, none stronger, none richer in promise than Mr. Nigel Hughes. Despite his drawbacks, this is where I stand with his now long delayed reappearance in the national political wars. War is what it is going to be. But he has his work cut out for him to get past the PNC boiler room and its ideas about who the presidential candidate must be. Remember what I said earlier about ‘almost insurmountable’. In American, the rubber burns on the road.

I believe that the PNC hardcore has no interest in a consensus candidate, unless that someone is from deep in the bosom of the PNC itself. Sentiments – passions and convictions are more appropriate, and they are unmoving to a great degree – are that impregnable. Even with better prospects for electoral victory with a non-PNC presidential candidate, the purists in the party would still resist, refuse to yield. To some extent, this is beyond Mr. Hughes’s arc of influence. He is reduced to a dependent bystander on this one. This is regardless of how much he is involved, the opportunities he is given to sell himself, when matched against the party-centric visions of powerful PNC insiders. They are too well-versed in the wheeling and dealing game.

But there is another just as demanding issue, and it is all in Nigel Hughes’s hands. It can make him or break him. He can make an example of himself that is hard to beat. It is called leading the way by self-sacrifice. He does, and many more Guyanese would look on him differently, even admiringly. He doesn’t, and it will be all for naught. For then he would consign himself to the same man-eating swamp in which the incumbents in today’s government leadership cadre now belong, have established monopolies, and which reduces them to impotence and ignominy. Even the idiotic and ignorant in Guyana have so concluded.

The issue that Nigel Hughes, Esq., must face, march fearlessly towards, and grapple with, is what he does with his close and deep professional relationship with Exxon. It doesn’t get closer for a Guyanese than having an office in Houston, Texas, Exxon’s sprawling and under control hunting grounds. Mr. Hughes cannot have his feet in two boats at the same time. He cannot raise his hand to stand as a presidential candidate – a consensus one – for the Guyanese electorate, while his head and his voice are for Exxon. The two are simply incompatible, locally unmanageable and, from this negligible corner, unacceptable. Mr. Hughes’s heart may be in the right place, I will give him that pass. But he is going to have to make a choice, for there would be an inarguable, indefensible, conflict of interest. Once again, I bring up that most difficult of words in Guyana’s political dictionary, Guyanese culture: self-sacrifice. There are few other developments that could be nobler than such a decision. I can’t think of one presently. What would differentiate him more from his adversaries than such a move, one made in the heat of anticipated political battles? What have adversaries sacrificed if not the skimpiness of the integrity they had to begin with, the droplets of decency and honor that were the most that they could claim, and all at the altar of Exxon and mammon? Plus, their lust for power by any sordid bargain. The more sordid the better. These powers that rule the roost today are so sordid that they thought nothing, and still think nothing, of sacrificing the hopes and aspirations of Guyanese on the altar of Exxon’s bountiful bag of goodies.

This is where Nigel Hughes drives his stake into the ground. He shows the Guyanese people that his good words about all those grand things (constitutional reform, fairness, including and belonging and participating, and the rest) are backed fully and squarely by his deeds. Who can stand against him then? What force that can be mustered will prevail? He rises to consensus presidential status, and he severs his relationship with Exxon, would go very far in persuading Guyanese that in Mr. Nigel Hughes, they have the real article. Oh, and one last thing, the return of one Raphael Trotman is not coincidental. Consider the depths to which the PPP Government has driven this country. And consider the dismay of the Americans with much of what has swept across Guyana. Guyana is in for interesting times. Not Chinese, Guyanese.