By Jeff Trotman
Region 10 Chairman Sharma Solomon sounded a defiant note at the republic anniversary observance in Linden on Saturday and said that the unrequited agreements clinched with the government in August of 2012 will be implemented with or without its input.
Speaking in the presence of Presidential Advisor on Governance, Gail Teixeira, Solomon said “The people of Linden always believe in self determination and service and if this means challenging and holding our national leaders accountable, we shall not shirk from our responsibility”.
When the Golden Arrowhead was hoisted at midnight on Saturday at the Mackenzie Sports Club Ground, Linden, it failed to flutter. It hung limply before an audience of barely four hundred people in the still and overcast night.
Probably, the brightest spark in the programme was the resounding applause that resonated across the Region Ten mecca of sports when the Region’s Chairman, 34 year old Solomon was introduced by Mackenzie High School student, Sheon Arthur.
In wishing the Administration and people of the Region a happy 44th anniversary celebration of republican status, the Region’s Chairman said “it is a proud moment and the icing on the cake of the country’s struggle for independence and self determination”.
He said being a republic means that we are the final arbiters in the aspirations of our national motto: One People, One Nation, One Destiny but to realize this aspiration, the nation’s constitution must be accepted in spirit and intent.
He charged that an attempt was made to violate the constitutional rights of Lindeners in July 2012 when the government attempted to unilaterally impose an electricity rate hike within the town but the people of the Region achieved a major victory over this attempt to violate their rights and forced the government to retreat “from that position of imposing over 1,000 per cent increase on you, the residents from July 2012”. He congratulated the residents and people of Region Ten for their vigilance with blood, sweat and tears in opposing the electricity rate hike. Three people died in the protests that saw the town being shut down for weeks and travel to the interior being crippled.
Solomon also said the agreement signed on 21 August 2012 between the government and the Region’s representatives will be implemented with or without the government’s input. “Our destiny is ours to mould,” he said. “We shall have our television station in Region Ten. We shall have our economic plan, which will allow us to realize our economic path – no one will deny us this – and no one will deny us our lands in Region Ten be it for housing our economic ventures.
In an address that was infused with militancy, the Region Ten Chairman said: “Our Regional Members of Parliament led the way in making sure that all monies owed workers, including our nurses were paid by the Ministry of Health. We ensured that our Members of Parliament made adequate representation on your behalf in the National Assembly. They also took the 21 August (2012) Agreement to the National Assembly and succeeded in having the Agreement deliberated by the nation’s highest decision making forum.”
Stating that the One Mile School “will be rebuilt with your hard earned tax dollars,” Solomon alleged that the school was destroyed during the July 2012 electricity protest with the intention to demonize the efforts of the people.
He said that he wanted to make it clear that the reconstruction of the school “is no favour granted by any political party or government since it is the responsibility of the state to provide education”.
He said the Region abhors the more than four years of discrimination against bauxite workers at Kwakwani and the Region will continue to monitor the continued violation of the rights of workers by the bauxite company that operates in the Berbice River.
He said that people in Region Ten know what it is like to have their constitutional rights violated and to have laws broken. According to him some say we have laws in place to protect our people and nation while those same people are not interested in seeing “that your rights are maintained”.
Arguing that the laws are not for some but for “each and every one of us as Guyanese,” Solomon contended that “if you as a Guyanese cannot enjoy those rights as outlined by our constitution like in the days of slavery, you have the right to challenge any law that ensures it maintains your state of oppression”.
He stressed: “Unless people, unless government, unless politicians are here to speak to you about having your rights respected then I say to you … you have every right to challenge any law they put before you.”
Solomon’s fifteen-minute address was part of a four-hour programme that featured a variety of cultural presentations including poetry, song and dance. Member of Parliament for Region, Pastor Renis Morian in a brief address called for the government to put structures in place to bring benefits for present and future generations”.
Advisor to the President and Government’s Chief Whip in the National Assembly, Teixeira, delivered the feature address and received the salute from a military parade that included ranks from the Guyana Police Force, the Guyana Defence Force and scouts accompanied by the Linmine Drum Corps.