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– Aubrey Norton ready to take over PNCR leadership
– says there will be a place for Vanessa Kissoon, Sharma Solomon
A politician for 49 years, Political Scientist Aubrey Norton said he has what it takes to return the People’s National Congress/Reform (PNC/R) and its coalition partners back to Government.
Last Tuesday, Norton, who joined the PNC at the age of 15 in 1972, signaled his intention to contest for the leadership of the PNCR when Congress is held later this year. “Once the Congress of the People’s National Congress Reform is called, I intend to run for the leadership of the party but to serve,” Norton announced during his appearance on Politics 101 – a virtual show hosted by Political Scientist, Dr. David Hinds.
In an exclusive interview with Village Voice Newspaper on Friday, Norton said the institutional knowledge acquired together with the political skills developed over the last 49 years makes him an exception candidate for the leadership of the PNC/R.
“I know the party inside out; I have worked in every region of this country for the People’s National Congress, and later the People’s National Congress/Reform, and what that means is that I have institutional memory, I have [a] relationship [with members] across the party and in large measure I know some of the problems within the party that we need to solve,” Norton told this newspaper.
He added: “I also believe that academically, I am equipped to do the job; at the same time, I also believe that I am in contact with the grassroots of the party, and I have always been in contact with them, and I think that will also help me to standout.”
Norton, who served as General Secretary of the PNCR in 1997, said he was instrumental in rebuilding the party ahead of the December 1997 General and Regionals Elections, and he is even more prepared to do so this time around.
Further, the Political Scientist said the PNC/R’s main opponent – the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) – has failed miserably to discredit him simply because he is a man of integrity, who continues to serve his country well.
“When you are dealing with the People’s Progressive Party, it can’t be a church affair, you will have to protest because they understand nothing else outside of protest. While you have to do your parliamentary work, you have to also be able to stand up to the excessive of the People’s Progressive Party. I have had a good track record standing up to them, and people know I would have stood up to them,” he said.
A PLACE FOR EVERYONE
Should he be elected Leader of the PNC/R, Norton said he will work to foster an atmosphere of trust and unity, and in doing so, resolve issues that have plagued the party for far too long such as the fall out with former Member of Parliament Vanessa Kissoon and former Region 10 Regional Chairman, Sharma Solomon.
“I believe that there is a place for everybody in the party, including Vanessa Kissoon and Sharma Solomon. In fact, I think I was instrumental in bringing Sharma Solomon into politics…I am convinced that once there is new leadership Vanessa and Sharma will be very active in the People’s National Congress/Reform. I don’t want to get into the details of what went wrong but for me, they have political skills and those skills should be utilized,” Norton told this newspaper. However, he made it clear that the issue would be resolved in accordance with the rules of the party.
A MAN WITH A PLAN
But that aside, the Political Scientist hopes to revitalize the party by placing major emphasis on education, training, youth empowerment, and financial management.
Norton said there is need to revitalize the various branches of the party spread across the country. “What made Burnham Party strong was him being on the ground, having functioning groups, and being able to give policy guidance to our people and at the same time, benefit from feedback from them, and I think that is critical, which means we need to do some work to improve the party’s structure, particularly, its elections campaign machinery,” he explained.
The Political Scientist said it is important for the PNC/R to always be in a state of readiness for elections, but this could only be so, if members are well equipped. It was at this point that he underscored the importance of education and training particularly in the areas of leadership, politics, campaign management and financial management.
“You will see a large focus on education and training, because I believe that when people are educated they are in a better position to act and achieve their objectives, and when people are
educated you don’t have to direct them, just give policy guidance, they have the skills,” Norton posited.
He said it important for members of the party to cultivate habits that would breed success utilizing the skills and knowledge acquired.
“I also believe that we have to work in the party on cultivating the habits that will make you succeed, and a lot of that is dependent on self-discipline; having a party machinery that is competent and self-disciplined. And I am defining self-discipline here to mean, to do what they have to do, when they have to do it, do it properly, do it on time without anybody having to tell you to do it. When you have a cadre of people in a political party that is self-discipline then it makes leadership easy,” he explained.
He said the PNC/R has not been able to effectively utilize its assets to generate income, however, he hopes to address the issue frontally should he be elected Leader. “The party needs a strong financial arm and one of the things I would do very early is to put together a team that will take the resources of the party and make it them income earning, so that the party reduces its dependency on financing from external agencies,” the PNC/R Executive Member said.
Cognizant of the internal challenges the Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) Coalition faced pre and post March 2020, Norton said it would be his intention to strengthen the partnership between the coalition partners.
The Political Scientist said it is important to put in place a proper mechanism for consultation, discussion, decision making and implementation.
“A coalition should have discussions on the policy issues and agreement on those issues so when you are moving forward, you are moving forward as one political movement with clear ideas and directions and so I believe meeting in a structured way will be critical,” he said.
Further, Norton submitted that he would work as former President David Granger did to address build social cohesion in the country faces, by introducing policies and social programmes that would attend to the needs of all Guyanese regardless of race, color, religion or creed.x