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By GHK Lall
The PNC leadership race is over. I think it is done, with conceding from the main contender. Let it be truly over, as in finished and settled, amid the disappointments, the bruised egos, the coming close, but falling just short. Those must all be history now, if this society is going to get anywhere. Now the hard work of leading begins, and this is the mantle that has been placed on the head of Aubrey Norton by his comrades. Now, he must be more than Comrade Aubrey or Comrade Norton. He must be Mr. Guyana. He must show all Guyana that he is up to the many daunting tasks ahead.
It should be noted that I immediately put on the front burner ALL GUYANA, and not only brethren inside the PNC. He must be a rallying point, starting on the inside and leveraging that into a driving national agenda. This country’s divided social milieu must be knitted together; for then, Guyanese can confront both local and foreign devils that suck the blood out of this society. Aubrey Norton must dispel fears, make people believe in him, that he is different, no matter how small that cluster. I say he must find it in himself to be an inspiration, a resting place, a confidence booster. Guyanese must be reminded that this land is theirs, ours; and we must get as much as we can from it, regardless of what anyone says, who stands in objection.
The new conquistadores, colonists, and carpetbaggers will not take kindly to that, because it benefits them to keep Guyanese docile, divided and raging against each other. In today’s PPP leadership, the modern-day colonizers have recruited faithful foot soldiers who are good at keeping the people simmering, hating. I remember the Aztec and Incas, helpful Africans in the slave trade era, and subcontinent Indians, too. The Caucasian has his burden, and his skill in finding cooperative natives.
Among the herculean challenges facing this hurting nation, is that it needs a person who is a composite of several individuals. This PNC man, Aubrey Norton, of the present and for the future must be a leader, a fighter, a troubleshooter, a peacemaker, a healer, and a unifier, all in one. In those sensitive areas, he must prove to be a miracle worker, small ones are a start. The first order of business is how to be a consensus builder within the contradiction of being a dogged fighter. If his handiwork smacks of the usual partisanship, then we are as good as lost. If he is too much of a compromiser, then there may be nothing left for he and his group and, by extension, those many other Guyanese left behind in this country’s biggest race issue -its mad oil race. He must throw down the gauntlet on oil; doing otherwise is criminal, maybe treasonous.
Expectations are high, watchfulness keen, cynicism deep. Leaders in an out-of-control Government must be halted, forced to brake: borrowings, equitable treatment, open government, for starters. The leaders of Exxon, who take Guyanese for granted, must be forced to think twice, revisit their Guyana blueprints. This oil has already made monsters of most politicians throughout the political divide. Senses have fled, and so, too, have character and any residual will to remember the plight and dreams of the downtrodden people. There are simple folk in Guyana, who are extremely dispirited; they must be given hope, aspirations rekindled. The sophisticated and visionary would listen, but only if there is the substance of credibility, of trustworthiness. Mr. Norton must listen. The few selfless leaders in untainted civil society would appreciate a viable political presence, as represented by a man who could be a formidable leader, who must first be believable. Many Guyanese feel abandoned, hopeless, stagnant. They crave something different.
Separately, this country has been cursed with the worst of unprincipled leaders, ministers, in siders, self-helpers. Mr. Norton must choose: continue to fill the mold, or start fresh with openness, seriousness, industriousness, and unselfishness. In one word, I call upon him to be honest, in two, principled, reachable. He must hear those who will tell him what he doesn’t want to hear. Winning this tense internal race for leadership does not and cannot come to mean the perpetuation of the same leadership failures, the same personal weaknesses. We have enough crime to not have to fear government, their goons and guns. Time will tell what he proves to be.
We have inflicted much damage upon ourselves, individually and collectively, incinerate ourselves. A true nationalist leader lights the way forward out of impasse, quicksand, and swamp. The man thinking himself capable to lead this forbidding wildernesses must be made of a special fiber, possess vision and purpose. I watch for suitability for what stands before.
As done before with Guyana’s President last August, I give room to deliver; if not, most will fade. Look at our headman, so helpless, so much in the thrall of the white man is he, and of that he is happy. Some of us don’t seek shelter in a PPP or PNC sanctuary. What is desired is a different Guyana, one with spine and pride, standing up to the powerful and not blinking or groveling. If these are not done, then when the foreigners are finished with Guyana, and when their Guyanese leaders have grabbed their share of the spoils, then it is not even square one, but nothing. Nothing, but a mountain of debt, and any scapegoat of convenience will have to suffice for venting frustrations.
For all these reasons, Mr. Aubrey Norton must be a catalyst for so many things, and all at once. This country is in a hurry, and woe to those left behind, or on the wrong side of the Guyana story. The moment starts from right now: the PNC can restore itself and be a major contributor, an influencer, and a power. It all starts with the leader. The best of luck, sir.