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By GHK Lall
I salute President Ali’s ‘One Guyana’ vision and initiative. It is noble in ideal, appealing in its possibilities, what this country needs more than anything. I say that it is. It is why I congratulate the President for putting this ‘One Guyana’ horizon before us. I hope that it draws close, right into the middle of us. As I wrap my mind around this ‘One Guyana’ program today, I go beyond what is said, highlight what I think must be done, if it is going to gain any foundation on which we can all confidently stand. In sharing, I refrain from visiting what the President and PPP Government have done, who have benefited, who have not. What I do is humbly point His Excellency to what will immeasurably assist in getting this ‘One Guyana’ mission off the ground, some semblance of reality.
President Ali should make it his duty to tell his inner circle to speak inclusion by living it. It is time to stop talking about December 2018 to August 2020 (and prior), and about who did what, who failed democracy, who lacked honesty and integrity. As much as there is abundant room for those, the time has passed, and the One Guyana development, in principle, as a philosophical construct, must minimize those passions. They are hostile to one of anything.
I recommend that those hostile positions and conversations be done with. Because the President has his division of faithful troops that follow his lead, that of his Vice President every command, and his party’s every wish, then tons of what poisons this society, would seep away. In Guyanese, let the one hand of the other side clap if it desires. In sum, President Ali must go beyond the words of ‘One Guyana’ and lead by example. His expansive and inclusive actions would more than corroborate One Guyana; they could make it a reality, however partial. Naysayers and critics have wholesome ideas, are not enemies. The President sets the stage, by word and deed. As challenging as what I suggest may be for President and party (Opposition also), there are some things, some mindsets, some practices that must go. Vitriol, rancor, and unscrupulousness are killing us, work against anything that could claim to be about ‘one’ something. We can have more piety; or highlight what purifies, unifies.
I urge this goodwill resolution from now, employing language made ancient by frequent usage. Let’s do away with the reminders of who stole, who lied, who hurt. I say we can. As historian Miriam Dixson reminded us: when oppression and clannishness are cultivated, then a “mental ghetto…a thought universe of harsh conflict” results. Consigning men to classes leads to devouirng with rancor and aggression.
Next, it is my position that there is one issue around which President Ali can generate some real energy and vibrancy to his now well-worn ‘One Guyana’ mantra. Though I am doubtful that he will agree or act, I still put it before him as a rallying point, from which One Guyana can take flight. It has to do with the Exxon contract. The President (or the Vice President) says the word, and there is nothing inhibiting a One Guyana environment. One Guyana united in a common cause: marshaled and marching under its oil flag. One Guyana that is about what is best for Guyana, and not for any political party alone. One Guyana that binds PPP Government and PNC Opposition, and their supporters, in a call to action and a place of consensus. I envision no other issue, no elemental force, no set of circumstances that has the weight, and the thrust, to gather Guyanese under the needed One Guyana pavilion.
The Opposition groups have already signaled where they stand. The PPP princes have made known what they think of the 2016 oil contract with Exxon, both when in opposition, and today. Where is the bottleneck? Where’s the disconnect? Why is there any of that in the first place, considering where all the leading political players have publicly stood? To repeat what is now routine: as political parties go in this country, so the people devoted to them go. Nothing should be more compelling, more beneficial to the One Guyana blueprint than taking a joint approach against the current Exxon deal.
Further, I think it is imperative that the Coalition Opposition extends the President and Government the space, open its hand in invitation, reception. Hold open the door for the President to provide the puddings of his One Guyana. One means all are encircled, all are embedded, and all are embraced. And when it is so, then that is the best, most irrefutable, of proofs. President and government are presented with a freeway. It stops at every habitation along our 83,000 square to ensure comprehensive delivering of the tangible materials of necessity to all Guyanese. It is of two words ‘One Guyana’ that come all too easily, now coming alive. This is what will make good on what is no longer seen as myth or mirage. But a One Guyana that is meaningful in its many substances.