“There will be consequences. If they think that they can rig the elections and have the kind of peace that we have now, they’re wrong; very, very wrong. I hope they are not taking that in their calculation.”
Those were words uttered by Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo at a recent press conference. The 2020 elections will be critical. Although Guyana has always been natural resources rich, the expected wealth from our nascent oil industry will create new prospects for development. Leaders who are honest and committed to improving the lives of the Guyanese people are the ones needed to take us into the future. But are talks about elections being rigged and threatening the peace of our country necessary at this point? Are we the people to take any threats to our peace lightly?
In conversations I have had about the opposition leader’s statement, a few people told me that they are not concerned with Jagdeo and will not take anything he says seriously. But aren’t we supposed to be worried when anyone threatens our peace? Have we forgotten what peace looked and felt like under Jagdeo’s administration?
“Bharrat gon be in jail by next election” is an assertion that have I heard many times and it was repeated again during discussion of his recent statement. Such utterances inform me once again that some of our people are delusional. No, I do not believe that the opposition leader will be in jail next election. If I am proven wrong, then I will admit that I was wrong. Can the people who are saying that Jagdeo will be in jail prove his crimes? Can they even list his crimes? Or maybe they have information that the rest of us are not privy to.
There have been times when rebellions were necessary, and peace was not to be had. Slave rebellions, when Africans were fighting for their freedom, were necessary because slavery went against every human right and made animals of people.
But are we experiencing modern day slavery in Guyana? There are definitely chains on the minds of some that are tightened and kept locked by party loyalty and race, and which prevent many from expressing their discontent with their leaders and holding them accountable. Many leaders play on the weaknesses and ignorance of the people.
Jagdeo, in recent years, has attempted to take on the persona of a modern-day Moses. After his government was in power for 23 years, with him serving as president for two terms, he has suddenly realised that the people are in bondage and need rescuing from Pharaoh, who in this case is the APNU+AFC government. Instead of enjoying his pension, travelling and indulging in other luxuries, from all appearances he felt it was his responsibility to ‘rescue’ the PPP/C and guide them back to power after the elections were lost in 2015. But regardless of what Jagdeo’s mission is—which we can assume is power from all appearances—should peace be threatened because of one man’s arrogance?
Freedom of speech is our right, but leaders, whether in government or opposition, have the responsibility of assuring the people that they will do whatever they must to ensure our safety, instead of threatening it. I am sure many are wondering what the opposition leader really meant when he uttered words “if they think they will have the kind of peace we have now, they’re wrong.”
When you have lived through soldiers camping in your village because there was no peace, you will take those words seriously. When you have experienced curfews because there was no peace, you will be take note of the threats. When the sound of gunshots was a norm, you know what peace was not.
There were marches because there was no peace. Many people died because there was no peace. The peace we have now is also under threat. Our crime situation, especially the robberies and murders, is not improving.
With another oil find this week, power and greed will continue to be the motivating factors for many of our so-called leaders.
“At least they can fix education, health and give us proper roads,” another said to me in conversation this week.
Such statements expose the misgivings many Guyanese have about the oil finds in relation to the improvement of their lives. Many of our people are expecting nothing from the riches oil will bring because they believe the leaders will give them nothing or that the oil companies will take the bulk of it. Yes, the majority of the Guyanese population are making assumptions about our oil finds from a place of ignorance, but still, isn’t it sad that some seem to have no faith in our leaders? What does that say about our leaders? But time and time again, leaders have taken excesses for themselves while the people waited for a morsel.
It is evident that the wellbeing of the Guyanese people is not a priority for some of our leaders.
“By their works you shall know them.”
“By their words you shall also know them.”
We have heard Jagdeo’s words.
In the popular television show “Game of Thrones,” which many Guyanese watch, the thirst for power makes the characters ruthless. The shedding of blood is the norm, and no one mourns the dead too long. Sometimes they are not even mourned.
In this ‘Game of Governance’ that we have, who will have control over the country and the oil wealth initially? Peace is being threatened by one who wants to be the king and it is seems like business as usual.
We can wonder if the threats to peace mean there will be marches and non-cooperation. And we can wonder if it means that blood will be shed.
A plethora of fears already linger here. They include fear of change, failures, differences, the rights of others, fear of truth, fear of national unity.
Regardless of what is happening in our country, the safety of the Guyanese people should never be threatened, especially by a leader. Some people have said that they do not want to be in country during the next elections. They are fearful that there will be no peace. I felt that way when the 2015 elections were approaching. But there was peace. I do believe that the closer we move to elections, there will be no ambiguity as to the desperation of those who will do anything for power.