Recognizing that Guyana has more to lose than to gain by the derailing of the Amaila Falls Hydro Project, the AFC displayed a sense of patriotism by extending its support. Now the AFC is being skewered in some quarters for supposedly ‘selling out.’
On the other hand the APNU continues to voice opposition to the project, with Carl Greenidge opining that Sithe Global pulled out because of political instability. Does Mr Greenidge realize that he was indicting his own party by such a statement? Meanwhile, as this saga plays out, one has to wonder why the government thinks that consultations mean presenting its case and expecting that acceptance would be instinctively forthcoming. Why could other stakeholders, including the opposition, not have been brought in at conception stage and all viable views incorporated into ensuring that costs were held to a minimum, that transparency and accountability were built in to satisfy every check and balance and that the best plan was implemented with the best resources manning it? After all if it’s a project of national interest then should its approach from conception to implementation not also be national in input and execution? Surely the government should have learnt from its experiences with the Skeldon Sugar Factory?
Against this background one cannot help but conclude that politics has become a zero sum game in Guyana and everything is framed as ‘us v them.’ Thus the PPP, with a minority of one in parliament continues to believe and act as if it has all right and authority to plan and implement with no concrete input from the opposition. And APNU, more particularly the senior partner, the PNC, believes and acts as if its majority of one gives it the right and authority to govern from the opposition benches. However, since this cannot happen, the PNC goes into temper tantrums every now and then and each time the nation suffers. Worse yet is that there seems to be no middle ground as each side of the political divide (with a few exceptions in the case of the AFC) is convinced that it has a monopoly on correctness and rightness. In effect, all the expectations about collaboration and the sharing of power that were generated by the last election results, have disappeared completely while the nation seems to slow motion towards gridlock.
The simple reality is that governance is not about the triumph and diktat of a ‘winning’ political party; rather it is about the capacity to harness and manage all the resources, including technical and professional human resources, of the nation, both at home and abroad, for national development. After all, nation development has no political alliance, ethnic taint or socio-cultural underpinning. Dare we hope that, sooner than later, those who currently man the corridors of power would internalize and act on this very fundamental precept?
For starters why not bring together all stakeholders to plan for and redress all forms of violence, especially violence against women and children? Ditto for education, especially given the very worrying recent CXC/CSEC results. Or what about working together to put in place mechanisms with teeth, nationally manned, to clamp down on bribery and corruption instead of denials from the government and justification from the opposition à la poor salary, unemployment et al?
And if the Amaila Hydro Project is to be rescued, the government must do the same. Surely not all the critics and criticisms of the project are fallacious, flimsy and the result of political gamesmanship? By the same token, however, those whose criticisms have some merit must be prepared to share their expertise not only by way of dishing out criticisms by also by way of working to find solutions to the problems identified, especially since it would be a disaster, in many ways, to shelve a project of this magnitude. More importantly there is the imperative to avoid the massive wastage that characterized the previous government – an almost unending list of white elephants from the Charity Cassava Mill to the Orealla Road Project. And along the way there is the present government’s Moco Moco Falls Hydro Project. For what good is past experience, especially of a not-so-positive or constructive nature, if at a minimum, lessons are not used to underpin the present and chart the future?
Let me hasten to add, however, that this new dispensation can only be effective if the opposition displays the same sense of responsibility asked of the government, so that instead of attempting to win points, the focus would be on finding common ground, making compromises and putting the nation first. To some extent, the AFC has attempted to do so but certainly not the PNC. It has to start with applying the same standards every which way. For example, was Gocool Boodoo given a due and comprehensive evaluation process or was the refusal to rehire him based purely on politics? Are the same yardsticks used to champion the citizens of Linden, being used to champion the citizens of other localities who suffer in similar ways? Is it the correct posture to embrace calls for street protests, especially given past experience? The list of such questions goes on to infinity.