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The People’s National Congress Reform on Monday February 20, 2023 observed the Centennial birth anniversary of its founder and Leader, Guyana’s First Prime Minister and First Executive President, Linden Forbes Sampson Burnham, O.E., SC. The celebrations are being done in collaboration with the Forbes Burnham Foundation and will run until February 20, 2024.
There have been many accomplishments by the late LFS Burnham, but many have and are still attempting to discredit and downplay the contributions of this great visionary Leader who was ahead of his time. From my readings and analysis of the work and contributions of the Late Linden Forbes Sampson Burnham O.E., SC, I have concluded that he was a patriot with an enormous vision for Guyana and its six races.
I have heard of the many challenges he faced with his political opponents, but this did not deter him from his major objectives such as – taking Guyana into Independence on May 26, 1966, seeing our nation become a Republic, on February 23, 1970 and moulding Guyana’s destiny. I listened to his speeches, interviews and how he dealt professionally and candidly with journalists, locally and internationally. I have also read a few of his articles and have concluded that, Linden Forbes Sampson Burnham was indeed a gift from God who was birthed here in Guyana for a purpose.
The late Linden Forbes Sampson Burnham did not just lead Guyana to Independence or Republican Status, but he created institutions such as: Bank of Guyana, CARIFESTA, Co-Operatives, Agri- Bank, Mortgage Finance Bank, National Insurance Scheme, for which he was highly condemned and criticized. This institution was referred to as “SIN,” by Burnham’s political opponent, the late Dr. Cheddi Jagan. Monies from this same Scheme were later used by the PPP Government to construct the Berbice Bridge and other projects outside of its mandate. Also, credit should be given to Mr. Burnham for the establishment of regional structures, which now see the decentralization of Government programmes.
Burnham also established the Local Government System, which allows for NDCs and Municipalities to be governed by residents and officials from their local areas. Education was a top priority for LFS Burnham. During his time, he constructed Multilateral Schools and President’s College which is downplayed today by those sitting in the seat of Government. Yes, it was Burnham who allowed “education to be free from Nursery to Tertiary,” and ensured it was enshrined in our Constitution. This free education was abolished by the PPP in 1994. Other established learning institutions are, University of Guyana, the Government Technical Institute, CPCE, to name a few. May I further hasten to say Editor, that many in the current PPP/C party, whether Leadership or otherwise benefitted from “Free Education” under PNC administrations.
Housing was another key and critical priority for Burnham and his administration. If we are to conduct a survey, we will find evidence of the many housing schemes still standing since the 1970s, including concrete roads.
Burnham felt that in order for Guyana to advance to “a developed nation,” infrastructure is pivotal. Hence, the construction of the Linden-Soesdyke Highway, Demerara Harbour Bridge, Canje Bridge, to name a few. He was also instrumental in advancing discussions on hydropower for Guyana, which would have benefitted our brothers and sisters in the hinterland regions significantly. The roads and water system, inherited after coming to office in 1964, were not without its challenges, but with determination and commitment roads were constructed and potable water was provided to many communities.
Though I hadn’t the privilege of meeting this great son of Guyana’s soil, I have been mesmerised by the fascinating stories told to me of the benefits and accomplishments of persons who completed the eighteen months training programme in the Guyana National Service. This was an opportunity given to young people to acquire skills for their personal development. Many have since made invaluable contributions to society. This was another initiative for which Burnham was demonised in Guyana, but which was copied by other Caribbean member states. Today, there is no safety net providing similar opportunities for young people, many of whom now fall prey to antisocial behaviour and crime.
Additionally, I was told of the many local factories established by LFS Burnham. His passion for agriculture was evidenced through his government’s policy on Feed, Clothe and House the nation by 1976. Guyana had its own agro processing plant, we canned local fruits and juices, there was the glass factory, clay brick factory and many more.
Editor, I appeal to all right-thinking Guyanese who served then or had the opportunity to interface, engage, interact, or benefitted from this great Leader’s contributions to Guyana, to share our history with their children and family. The truth of Linden Forbes Sampson Burnham’s national leadership, as he sought to work with our six races to mould Guyana’s destiny as One People, One Nation with One Destiny, must be told,
Linden Forbes Sampson Burnham, O.E., SC was a patriotic visionary who has left an indelible mark on the development landscape of this beautiful country of ours.
Long live the legacy of LFSB!!!!
Long live the PNCR!!!!!
Member of Parliament