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Response is made to one Henry Singh extolling President Irfaan Ali’s qualities as a leader in another media (Sep 3). Henry has gone all out with fulsome praise of Ali without finding any fault.
It appears that Henry is not in tune with some facts. Guyana has not been prospering under Irfaan’s leadership; only those in the oil and mining business are living a good life. Guyanese were better off under the Presidency of Jagdeo. Income has been stagnant or declining from a year ago. Cost of living is at its highest since the 1980s.
President Ali’s leadership leaves much to be desired albeit he has done some things well like giving out grants, an idea not his but that of the Vice President. President Ali has failed to honour his promise on oil and gas on renegotiation, local content, and audit. Thirteen months into his Presidency and we are still to have an audit of expenses claimed by Exxon that are in the billions of American dollars. Oil and gas business is being managed to the benefit of non-Guyanese and a few in the inner circle of the President and Vice President. Aside from shortcomings in oil and gas, there is the lopsided award of government contracts, placement of unqualified individuals in high positions, including at ministerial level.
The PPP did well in the March 2, 2020 election not because of Irfaan Ali but because of the public’s disgruntlement with the Granger administration and policy blunders like closing down sugar estates, not honouring the promise of $9000 a bag for paddy, and alienation of its own supporters. Instead of embracing Indians, Granger alienated and marginalized Indians who supported AFC forcing them and sugar workers to rush back to the PPP that ill-treated many Indians during its 23 years tenure. The Indians voted for Bharrat Jagdeo, not Irfaan Ali in 2020. Columnist Freddie Kissoon and pollster Dr. Vishnu Bisram can confirm this fact. Had Granger not made blunders, the coalition would have won re-elections.
Ali’s nomination as PPP candidate was foisted on party supporters without widespread approval. Central Committee members were threatened to vote for his nomination or lose their perks and parliamentary positions. Some CC members had to take pictures of their ballot and send to the boss ascertaining how they voted; they have been rewarded with positions in government. That was not a democratic selection of a nominee; it was coercion. All PPP supporters are aware of this fact.
The PPP won the Presidency by a meager margin because of the candidate. Irfaan was not a popular choice. Had it been another candidate, the PPP would have won big. And there would have been no room for the election fiasco that played out the day after the election and that lasted for five months. The coalition would have conceded defeat to an acceptable PPP candidate.
I note that Henry Singh, whose name never appeared in the media before, places emphasis on the Muslim background of Irfaan Ali. Is that a pen name? Ali is the first Muslim leader in Guyana.
Henry Singh makes reference to Irfaan Ali’s educational qualification. Guyanese are still trying to locate University of Uitvlugt where Irfaan supposedly obtained his BA degree that qualified him for the scholarship to pursue a Masters Degree in India. We still await answers to questions about his admission to UWI, attending classes in Trinidad, writing and defending the dissertation. The President appointed Professor Jacob Opadeyi, his UWI guide, as head of GOAL; we would like to know Opadeyi’s role in Ali’s degree at UWI.
Ali’s Presidential leadership is not contributing to an increase in the support base of PPP. Rather there has been a decline in support. The PPP has been looking good because the PNC has been in disarray. Once the PNC gets its act together, the PPP will find itself under severe strains. If snap election were to be called shortly, for sure the PNC led coalition under new leadership will win because of growing disgruntlement with Irfaan Ali’ s leadership.