It is given to young men to dream dreams and the old to see visions.
Grant me some space to share my vision with you. I saw with my dimming eyes very clearly that Guyana’s General Elections were held on December 22, 2011. Results were declared on 24th December, 2011. There was a stunning victory for the allied opposition forces, APNU, AFC, TUF et al, contrary to NACTA’s dire prediction.
There was much celebration and jubilation in every part of the country. From 100 radio stations across the land I heard Slingshot Drepaul belting out a parang soca. A line went like this, “Merry Xmas everyone, Merry Xmas, Merry Xmas everyone. Moon ah stop run, daylight ketch am, Merry Christmas.” The whole country was in carnival mode.
And behold I saw the configuration of the new cabinet. President of Guyana and commander- in-chief was Khemraj Ramjattan and Prime Minister was Guyana’s Iron Lady, the newly minted TUF leader, Valerie Garrido-Lowe. To the amazement of all she romped home with every single Amerindian vote, ably assisted by Dr. George Norton, Yvonne Pearson, and the APA. (Lowe is currently under fire for seeking to realign TUF with its pristine ideology of People’s capitalism as articulated by Founding Leader, Peter S. D’Aguiar. Worse still she is being persecuted for wanting to make Unity House the port of call for Guyana’s First Peoples as it was in the glory days of the great Stephen Campbell. Neither is she very keen to make TUF the arm of any Party).
Head of the Presidential Secretariat was Nigel Hughes who won overnight fame for confusing the hapless Dr. Luncheon whose attempt to prove that his boss was not racist, proved a failure.
Minister of Education was Dr. Rupert Roopnaraine, a former Guyana Scholar of razor sharp intellect as was one of his predecessors, the late LF.S Burnham. Olato Sam, a former student of the Parishara Primary School in Region 9 was moved up to Minister in the Ministry of Education.
Permanent Secretary in the Education Ministry was Hamley Case whose brilliant father was a Director of Education in British Guiana and one of those eminent men who crafted Guyana’s highest standard of education that was the envy of the rest of the Caribbean.
Minister Roopnaraine spent little time in bringing corporal punishment back into the schools. Those budding criminals in the classroom had to be straightened out now—no two ways about that.
The position of Minister of Information was offered to Freddie Kissoon who promptly turned it down. He preferred to use his mighty pen to expose and depose the peccadilloes of the incoming regime. For this he was awarded the Order of Excellence. The citation read, “For being the conscience of the Government, past, current and future.” The portfolio was then given to Bonita Harris who was instrumental in letting the 100 radio stations in Guyana bloom.
David Granger was appointed Major General of the Army. Caroline Rodrigues-Birkett was retained in the position of Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport.
Minister of Home Affairs was TUF’s, Errol Van Nooten, a US trained criminologist. He immediately recalled honest cop, Paul Slowe, to be his Commissioner of Police. Steve Merai was promoted to Crime Chief for his courage in exposing corruption in the Police Force. Among these three with the concurrence of President Ramjattan, they invited the British to help reform the Guyana Police Force. The British responded immediately. Crime fell by 90 percent. The Lindo Creek massacre was solved; they found the killer of Ronald Waddell, Sash Sawh and Sheema Mangar. And they were hot on the heels of the other unsolved murders.
Dr. Yesu Persaud was made Minister of Finance. He was made of the same mould as Peter D’Aguiar — an astute businessman and industrialist.
Ministry of Economic Development was given to Carl Greenidge, author of the ERP of PNC times.
The Ministry of Amerindian Affairs gave President Ramjattan something of a sleepless night. He had to choose from three names. One, magistrate Edwin Pratt, who lived the life of a Macushi and spoke the language with consummate fluency.
Two, Major General (Ret’d), Michael Atherly, who spoke the Wapishana Language so well that it impressed many.
Three, Ovid Williams, the first Amerindian Aviator; immensely popular, he knew every corner, crevice and creek of this country. He turned the offer down on grounds of ill health. Atherly said he was not interested. Pratt said he would give the position his best shot.
That same day Minister Pratt summoned Tony James of the APA to his office. I saw James appear before the Minister bedecked in head dress, beads, war paint, in short pants and barefooted. I heard Pratt say these words, “James I heard how militant you are on behalf of your people. Take this Amerindian Act and reform it. I give you seven days to do so.” On the evening of the third day James returned with a reformed Act. I had the privilege to read it. This sentence caught my eye, “… and the land shall belong to them up to the centre of the earth.” Those were the exact words of Stephen Campbell. “Well done James”, Minister Pratt said. “This Government will be forever grateful to you and your APA for crafting this beautiful piece of legislation for your people.”
The Ministry of Labour was given to Ms. Sheila Holder. The Ministry of Human Services was offered to Indra Chandarpal.
The Ministry of Agriculture went to Dr. Steve Surujbally. He had had his belly-full of GECOM. He was tasked with overhauling GUYSUCO, making it profitable and keeping the sugar workers and their union happy. He also had to fix that white mammoth, the Skeldon Sugar Factory, and make it fully operational. He brought back Booker Tate.
Dr. Janet Bulkan was given the Ministry of Forestry. She watched James Singh with the eyes of a hawk. Every tree cut, every piece of lumber sold overseas had to be meticulously noted. She managed the LCDS and REDD+ Programme smoothly and professionally.
Her patent incorruptibility won the admiration and the respect of the Norwegians, and the funds flowed into Guyana like water.
The Minister of Local Government was Vincent Alexander and Aubrey Norton was elected Mayor of Georgetown. I heard Minister say to Norton, “You have to rid Georgetown of this stink and stench. I want the mountains of garbage removed and canals and drains cleaned. I don’t want to see litter anywhere in the City of Georgetown. The onus is on you to make the Capital City the Garden City it once proudly was. I will ensure that you have adequate funding to carry out your mandate.” There upon I saw Minister Yesu Persaud advance City Council its first tranche of three hundred million Guyana dollars that came from Norway for the purpose of getting Georgetown clean.
Moses Nagamootoo was made Guyana’s Ambassador to Brazil. He was cautioned not to be trigger- happy in Brasilia.
Rashleigh Jackson did not accept the position of Foreign Minister due to old age and failing health. The great Sonny Ramphal graciously accepted to serve in that capacity, “to restore the prestige of the foreign service and to train worthy persons to take over from him in two years time.”
Th unflappable and youthful Raphael Trotman was made Attorney General. On day one, he threw the Constitution of Guyana into his waste paper basket, but thought better of it, took it out back and started deleting all those clauses that made the Presidency so powerful and stripped him of his immunity. When Trotman was finished with it, the President of Guyana was to the level of the ordinary citizen, liable to impeachment, prosecution and imprisonment for any malfeasance, misconduct or act of corruption.
I saw them conduct a referendum for a new Constitution for Guyana. The result was a Constitution that differed little from the American one.
The beautiful Ms. Cathy Hughes was made Minister of Tourism. Under her watch I saw the Tourist Industry soar and become the major foreign exchange earner.
Mr. Robeson Benn was made Minister of Lands and Mines. His knowledge of gold mining and garnering gold revenues for the treasury was extensive and made him the right man for the job. He was however sternly admonished by the President not to demolish people’s homes and property again.
Christopher Ram, that astute business analyst and legal luminary who could be a thorn in the side of the powerful, was made Minister of Trade, Industry and Commerce.
The Ministry of Housing went to Norris Witter.
The Ministry of Works and Hydraulics was given to engineer, Walter Willis. He, Ramphal, Benn and the President flew to Brasilia to negotiate the paving of the Lethem to Linden Road and to remind them of Lula’s offer to pave same. They also spoke about a railway from Georgetown to Brazil, the Brazilians gave their thumbs up.
The office of the Ombudsman was reopened. The new Ombudsman was Mike Mc Cormack of GHRA who gave two years of sterling service. His successor was Tacuma Ogunseye.
I saw that Carl Parker, that prolific writer from Region 9, was made Regional Chairman of Region 9. He immediately fired the current Party contractors with the heavy equipment and machinery. The guys did not have a clue of how to build the road and how to build a road from Lethem to Aishalton. He summoned all the Amerindian “old heads” who knew about road building during the latter part of the colonial days. (These men built such strong roads and bridges that withstood the test of the years and ravages of the rainy season. They virtually built roads with brawn and muscle, pickaxes and wheel barrows). Together with the Brazilians I saw them build an all-weather road at long last. The first three concrete bridges were built, one across the Sawarab, the Araquai and the Rupununi at the exact spot where the wooden bridge collapsed under the weight of an excavator two years ago.
Dr. George Norton was made Minister of Health and Dr. Shaun Legall, Minister in the Ministry of Health. Then the President, at his first cabinet meeting, called on Prime Minister Lowe to tell them what was meant by Economic Dynamism.
Lowe stood on her feet, became pink in her face, and raised her hand displaying her handbook on the subject. She admitted she did not know much on the subject but would have the booklet printed and distributed to all members of the cabinet by week’s end. She looked directly over at Minister Yesu Persaud and declared, “Mister President, the most I can say on Economic Dynamism at this point in time is that you see it flourishing at DDL, Thirst Park and John Fernandes. The people there work for very good salaries, enjoy many benefits and you hear of no strikes or racism in these companies.” At this she took her seat and all cheered.
President Ramjattan arose from his seat and looked around the new cabinet and he intoned, “Comrades all, from the little that I know about Economic Dynamism I am convinced that this is the speediest and surest way to transform Guyana into an economic power house. We come from diverse parties and affiliations but from today onward we will work as a team – the A-Team.
Let us give ourselves three years to put Guyana on a sound economic footing. We all have to be above corruption and totally transparent in all our dealings. If I have the faintest whiff of anyone who is elbow deep into taxpayers monies or have any connection with drug barons you will be replaced immediately and face the consequences of the law.” I saw the cabinet burst into laughter when Minister Alexander said, “Leadership by example Comrade Excellency.” The President continued, “You may build palatial homes but with your honest, hard earned money. For myself, I will live in my humble abode.”
Then I saw Jet planes upon jet planes landing at Timerhi and Ogle Airports. I saw Guyanese from the Diaspora coming off these planes. I counted 2.5 million of them. They had come home at this exciting time to help rebuild their country.
Then I heard a thunderous voice from this vision saying to me, “Mortal man, you are to declare to all who have eyes to see and ears to hear what you have seen in this vision. If you fail in this you will no longer have a country called Guyana.” At this my vision was over.
Let’s all work together to make this vision of mine, a reality.
Michael Abraham (Snr)
TUF Nappi Village – Region 9