Two months ago, at a meeting at Red House for all the candidates on the PPP/‘Civic,’ I spoke openly and forcefully. It was obvious to me that, at that meeting, the PPP leadership was preparing for a snap general election, and I warned against that and called for local elections as a more immediate concern (they will still try to have general elections, probably early next year). They will remember that I mentioned that we should consider inclusive governance, maybe at local levels like Georgetown, especially with a minority government; that Mr Granger and Mr Ramjattan are not the Taliban or al Qaeda and that we should approach them differently without a confrontational attitude, like was displayed when demonstrations led by ‘Fuzzy’ Sattaur and certain ministers in this government objected to the budget cuts. Ironically, after the budget cuts we all found out about the penchant for extra personal funds on the part of some senior members of NCN.
They all will remember – because all that President Ramotar did was take notes all the time, hardly saying anything – that I told the gathering that President Cheddi would have cut the budget more than APNU and the AFC did if he was alive and in the same situation.
They will remember that I called on the rulers to keep Mr Jagdeo quiet, and I openly questioned his statements at that time in the press when he (Mr Jagdeo) was in the headlines calling for a review of the contracts at the CBJ Airport when it was on his watch they were signed. I further said that Mr Jagdeo should keep quiet and enjoy his big house and questioned why he went to Brazil. They will remember when I talked about the state of affairs at Freedom House as a centre of a ruling party and the communist literature, some of it actually in the Russian language sold in the bookstore downstairs. They will remember that I mentioned some the things which were not done for the people at the local levels and the weaknesses of the PPP grass roots and the consequences of those mistakes when the election was lost by the PPP. They will remember that I called for the arrest and charging of those who were corrupt and that resignation was not enough, and I implored President Ramotar to do something credible against corruption. To this day, he has done nothing to continue investigations of corruption in other government quarters.
Editor, along with all the letters and e-mails which I sent Mr Ramotar, mentioning conciliation, compromise and some sort of shared governance, the fiasco at Linden was the result of his failure to hold to what he told me personally when he and Mr Robert Persaud pleaded with me to join their cause. He assured me at that time that there will be no Putin-like situation (as in Russia) here, yet the first thing he did when he became President was to embrace all the mistakes of the past; his Cabinet selections showed no real promise, especially promoting Robert Persaud. Mr Jagdeo did nothing much for Linden and PM Hinds did even less, and that is why President Ramotar should have fired Mr Hinds as soon as the trouble began – that was the first step in solving this situation and would have shown goodwill and a resolute President.
Then Mr Ramotar should have personally gone to Linden with Mr Granger and Mr Ramjattan and together they could have solved the problems along with the good graces of God and the citizens there.
The police action is directly Mr Ramotar’s responsibility and he should be man enough not to pass the buck, especially as head of a minority government. Doesn‘t he realize that this country is very divided by race, and extreme care has to be taken when confronting citizens who feel left out of the general development of this country, especially after the rule of Mr Jagdeo?
Editor, the Jagdeo era left us with the filled pockets of officials and others; without proper investigations which Mr Ramotar is obviously not interested in, how can the public be re-assured? And in the context of uncovering corruption, squandermania and ineptitude, we have to look first at the Ministry of Works and we have to examine the accomplishments of Minister Robeson Benn, who, in the opinion of many, is totally unfit to hold such an important job. Look at our roadways, especially our airport road and our bridge where millions have been spent, not to mention the stelling at Supenaam and all our village roadways where millions were spent yet most of these roads are falling apart.
There is also Prime Minister Hinds and his slumbering rhetoric which has enraged the people of Linden, and in the meantime the mining and electricity sectors were running into the ground; Robert Persaud and his gross mismanagement, not only of the agricultural sector but his handling of the PPP election campaign; Neil Kumar and his confusion as to our sports future, when the past administration never placed the Lotto money where it should have gone – to sports and culture. Look at the results: no medals at the Olympics. If Mr Kumar had been in charge of sport in Jamaica, Usain Bolt would be running 100 metre dashes as a messenger for Fedex. There is Dr Bheri Ramsarran, Minister of Health, who can’t even satisfy the parents of a young man who had a tooth extracted at a dental lab, went back there for relief from bleeding, got no real help and then bled to death at the Georgetown Hospital – and no-one has an answer at all.
Editor, let us pause, take a deep breath, and wish Mr Ramotar a ‘Putin-free’ presidency. Mr Ramotar should study the presidency of George Washington, the first and greatest President of the USA. He would learn about Washington’s humility, great leadership skills to make antagonists work brilliantly together (Hamilton and Jefferson), bringing young people to the forefront of politics and making the most of the worst circumstances to succeed beyond all expectations in elevating his nation.
Cheddi (Joey) Jagan (Jr)