We harbour leaders of conscience

Though we despair at the sorry state of our nation in these early years of the 21st century, we see quite a few voices of conscience striving to make a difference in this society. This is good news.

Ralph Ramkarran in his daring move to pronounce, again, on Government corruption created quite a stir, including an editorial comment in this newspaper. Ramkarran’s view must have significant support within the ruling People’s Progressive Party, as his critique was published in the Party organ, the Mirror newspaper.

Before him, Moses Nagamootoo came out in force against the Party’s failings. And then there’s the famous case of Khemraj Ramjattan, who went on to co-form the opposition Alliance For Change.

When we look for hope for our future, we see in these leaders a sure sign that we are not lost as a people.

In Nagamootoo and Richard Van West Charles, both of whom exhibited great courage and independence of spirit to walk away from their traditional base, we see senior leaders willing to sacrifice for a brighter tomorrow.

In Ramjattan and Raphael Trotman, we see the younger generation willing to sacrifice to create that new road leading to a Guyanese nation we could celebrate.

Let’s hope that Nagamootoo and Van West Charles could serve as coaches and mentors for the younger, emerging leaders. Their task is to create and generate new leaders of good conscience and selfless hearts.
As a people we harbour tremendous potential. We could easily be a significant player on the global stage. There is a global niche for us as a nation of the 21st century world.

But the failings of government continue to stifle our progress, dissuading individual initiative. Inefficient state management, fiscal irresponsibility with the public purse, blatant corrupt practices within government and the private sector, and a thriving underworld national economy act as brakes on our progress, stopping us from moving forward. Yet, beating in the breasts of our people is this enormous hope and belief that tomorrow will shine brighter. We maintain an incredible optimism, despite the social malaise of so many communities across this land. And the good news is that we harbour among us leaders who, despite huge obstacles and powerful opposition, refuse to give in to the debased.

Sad it is that successive governments in this country have produced leaders who care less about the people, who shamelessly and wantonly serve for personal gain.

With a national budget of less than US$1 billion, our country is poor by many standards. There’s not a whole lot of wealth to go round. But when we see the extravagant material gain of those in power, with unaccountable control over the public Treasury, we must despair as a people. The little wealth we create in this land seems concentrated in the hands of a few powerful folks.

Most of us average citizens have to plough through tough days, grinding out a life of bare survival.

Daily, the average Guyanese is concerned with his or her primary need for survival. How could we as a people develop our ideas into great entrepreneurial endeavours and visionary projects if we are forced to scratch around for survival?

In folks like Faith Harding and countless others who toil away in quiet humility, our nation could be assured that we possess a cadre of leaders who care more for the nation than their own personal aggrandizement. So we could be assured that tomorrow, somehow, will be brighter. Too many stories abound of corruption within government for us to ignore the issue. And so it’s good to see even the ruling Party no longer ignoring the issue.

We must thank leaders like media commentator Christopher Ram, with his expertise as an Accountant and Auditor, for his determined documentation of serious questions regarding the affairs of State.

While the government writes him off as an opposition voice, ignoring his efforts to run a clean ship so taxpayers and citizens could benefit from efficient state management, Ram continues to play an important and nationally defining role.

It is a sign of our nation gradually maturing to see Ramkarran’s public comments lining up with Ram’s, and also others, like Clive Thomas.

International reports continue to paint this country as a bad place for fiscal responsibility, and even human rights and press freedom.

The Police Force continues to attract international censure for its methods of law enforcement, and the justice system continues to be dogged with controversy. Our public health system also faces serious questions about its quality of care, especially of new born babies and new mothers. The education system continues to spiral downwards, with no visionary leadership in sight.

How could Government continue to ignore these issues? Thankfully, Ramkarran, a senior leader of the ruling Party, has signalled that Freedom House may one day be open to cleaning up its act in Government.

We may be at a defining crossroads in our work to create a workable future for our nation. Gradually, slowly, we may be getting our act together.  And we must never forget these leaders who, in the most dismal of times, stepped out to make sacrifices for the future of their land. How many of them could so easily migrate? How many could just give up, or give in and accept things as they are?

But they refuse to settle for anything less than excellence. And we applaud them. Our hope rests with their success. The race may be a marathon when we want it to be a sprint to the finish. But, at least we harbour leaders of conscience who work daily to move us in the right direction.

For this, we must be thankful, maintain hope, and rise every day with optimism and zeal to tackle the task of building the Guyanese nation as a global player in the 21st century.

This global role for the nation is the ambition that beats in the hearts of these leaders of conscience in whom we have placed our hope and our optimism, confident that Guyana has a bright future, despite the stormy clouds of today.

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