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By GHK Lall
I listened to a recording from November 2019, when Bharrat Jagdeo was Guyana’s Leader of the Opposition. It was of revelations in many parts.
There was the powerful and the inspiring then from Jagdeo. Now, what comes out of the mouth in magical mysteries from the same national presence and leader, Jagdeo, is a far cry from the man I heard, the one that Guyanese coexist with today. It is today’s night that could not be more distant, more damaging, and more dangerous, from the Jagdeo of the other day, in 2019.
Before proceeding, this is share with citizens. Today, the Hon Vice President, a former President, is mentioned by his name, a departure from norm. My constant practice should enlighten all of standing regard for this citizen, this brother, who has afflicted Guyanese so incomparably, unpardonably. Secondly, I do not listen to national leaders, ministers. I heard Forbes Burnham and Cheddi Jagan twice on the radio, shared brief space with former Presidents Ramotar and Granger, Church and State duty, respectively. Never listened to either of the two, or the others, including Jagdeo. I read of them in the media, no more. Relative to President Ali, snippets are the most absorbed. This should emphasize my assessments of Guyana’s national leaders, given their individual assaults on Guyanese.
Returning to the 2019 recording, I heard an Opposition Leader, I could vote for, a brother whose extended hand I may shake, after shaking off my own revulsions. These things, duties, trusts are taken that seriously. There is no care, nor recognition, for what the rest of Guyanese do. It is where I am and stand. Opposition Leader Jagdeo was in sweeping, soaring trajectory with what has to be done with this nation’s oil wealth, if only to correct the abject failures that the PNC Government executed in 2016, to make good for Guyanese. I heard a Jagdeo speaking with strength, with confidence, with conviction and determination, and even with a swagger that was understood, something to be lauded in this instance.
Opposition Leader Jagdeo stood like a Guyanese colossus ready to stare down the greedy and grasping oil powers, and manifest to them what real national power is all about. From his words alone, one could gather a leader incensed to the crescendo of a full head of steam, one not willing to take one prisoner in this war for better for the Guyanese people. It was a grand, exciting moment from an Opposition Leader filled with righteous wrath, and powered by the irresistible urge to do something, to make things right.
Things like renegotiation, like ring-fencing, like taxes. Those were the specific words of Opposition Leader Bharat Jagdeo, the areas he himself singled out in the 2016 oil contract signed by the former Coalition Government. For the longest, lingering moment, I confess to the unprecedented: Bharat Jagdeo came over to me, registered deeply within, as a leader who was committed heart and soul, come hell or holocaust, to deliver better for the struggling, hoping people of this impoverished land.
I was wrong. I could not have been more wrong on every evaluation of every phrase of what I concluded that Opposition Leader Jagdeo stood for, was going to get done. The evidence, the record, is in the here and the now. Circumstances have caused me to listen to some of what Vice President Jagdeo has to say today on where he stands and what he is going to do about this national treasure. It is not the same man, not the same steely, dogged leader of now ancient 2019. Power in his hands has reduced his presence to a state of paralysis. The coherent convictions of the old2019 Opposition Leader Jagdeo has crystallised into this crippling human caricature that hobbles around so listlessly, so impotently today. I prefer the 2019 version of Bharat Jagdeo way more than the one of recent, disconnection and dissembling and deterioration and all the rest of the negatives that condemn him to the worst of fates: a man without respect for his own words, own commitments, own sworn fealties to the Guyanese people.
Today, Guyanese look on in amazement at the shocking transformation toward what is now the new Bharat Jagdeo. It is an unfinished product with more of the same deficiencies set to come. Where Opposition Leader Jagdeo was straight and sure of himself, the pathetic reality is that Vice President Jagdeo is a compelling picture of the knotted and the tormented. It is of a man who skips about, dances all over, vacillates conveniently, stonewalls when such suits his purposes. Where Guyana’s oil, Guyana’s oil contract and renegotiation and ring-fencing and taxes are all concerned, Vice President Jagdeo is a man and leader without spirit, lacking in strength, and devoid of resolve. Today, when the reins of power are in his hands, he is a shadow of a shadow;a formless outline in Guyana’s oil skyline. His wisdom and courage have fled now that it is time to stand up and deliver. His leadership incense smells of pretense, a raw, naked impotence.
Now, I submit this most ordinary of questions to my fellow Guyanese: where did the Jagdeo that was Opposition Leader go? All things considered, I think it would be more appropriate to place that loaded inquiry before US Ambassador, Sarah Ann Lynch, and Exxon’s heads, Darren Woods and Alistair Routledge. The last questions, more of two unsparing statements that I submit before my fellow citizens are these: was Bharat Jagdeo ever the genuine article as Opposition Leader in what he said about doing with this oil, extracting better for Guyanese? And, finally, has anything that Vice President and Chief Oil Minister Jagdeo said, says, and will have to say about Guyana’s oil patrimony an authentic expression from an authentic fellow human presence, a leader renowned for his mysteries? I shall say no, have no choice but to say no, in answer to both questions. This I regret.