I believe that if everyone who is in favour and tired of waiting and waiting for Local Government Elections wrote our dear Minister of Local Government and Regional Development Norman Whittaker a letter, he would find himself in an interesting place.
He would have enough letters for a bonfire in the ministry’s front yard. It certainly would be a more fitting setting in which to carry out the National Blame Game. Just imagine editor, the brightest men and women among us from Government and the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) dancing around a bonfire of letters, of pleas from an entire nation and cussing out about whose fault it is among them that we are yet to and unsure of whether we will have Local Government Elections come August!
In an editorial on March 10, 2014, Stabroek News noted: “When asked when he would set about setting a date for local government elections since by its own admission the government has said that there was nothing legislatively in the way, Minister Whittaker told Stabroek News that the vast majority of the populace was not prepared for the holding of local government polls by August 1 and to go ahead would result in the waste of a lot of money.” Since Minister Whittaker is yet to accuse Stabroek News of misrepresenting his statement on the matter, I will assume that it is factual.
As a very ordinary member of the “populace”, I shall now ask the question which has been asked by this newspaper and others. Based on what evidence has Minister Whittaker pronounced that the majority of Guyanese is not ready for local government elections? After quarter of a century of life, I am yet to vote in such an election. Let Minister Whittaker be informed that I am ready for Local Government Elections. Let him be informed, that all of those who have written before me and all who will write after me are ready for elections. Are we then the minority?
Perhaps, the minister can explain what factors determine whether or not a nation, an electorate, is ready or not ready for elections. Is the minister saying that an entire nation is incapable of exercising its right to choose who it believes can best govern it at a regional level? He must explain this lack of readiness and then prove its existence beyond a doubt. Once he has proven that this lack of readiness exists then he must tell us how he intends to make us ready.
By deciding that we are not ready for elections, the minister has taken it upon himself to speak for us without ever consulting us. Is he aware of just how terrible of an insult that is to the people of Guyana? I sincerely hope that this is not what the minister meant and I hope he finds five minutes to address this matter soon.
The minister has also ruled that given what he describes as our lack of readiness it would be a waste of money to hold Local Government Elections. I am touched that Minister Whittaker is so concerned about the waste of our people’s money. But does he realize that he has ruled a democratic process to be a waste of money and then proceeded to blame that lack of democracy on our people? Finally, does Minister Whittaker realize that the same populace he says is not ready for Local Government Elections readily voted in 2011 at General Elections?
Most of my family and relatives voted for Minister Whittaker’s government at the last General Elections. They did so because they believed competent, well informed, rational and honourable leaders would be put in place to govern our nation and safeguard their rights. Yet, here we stand without voice, being spoken for, robbed of a basic democratic right.
Such happenings deeply affect the young of this land. This is how I feel: when I look behind me at the history of our nation I see sad things, unfortunate things, things that should have ceased to be. When I look ahead of me to our nation’s future I see only the future I imagine. I see a string of imaginings built on hope. But if I abandoned my hope, or rather if my hope abandoned me, I would see something worse than darkness. I would see a painfully, blinding whiteness.
Are there other Guyanese, other young men and women, who understand this deep sadness which the past stirs and the nothingness which the future seems to promise? The answer will cause many hearts quiver.
And why do we feel this way? It is because of words, because of actions like those expressed by Minister Whittaker. Come sir, we cannot continue this way. This nation is ready. Our young people are ready. We are ready for Local Government Elections. We will continue to speak until you do your duty and see that we can access our democratic right.
For our people and country,