The government should ask the opposition to sit on all boards dealing with oil

Dear Editor,

New oil find. What if…Hmmm…

The oil find is great news. Indeed, the fact that six out of seven exploration wells have now hit oil seems to be more like divine intervention than mere luck. Also, I believe President David Granger and Cabinet made an excellent move to remove the oil portfolio from Minister Trotman. To me, it was a bold and practical step to place ministerial responsibility for this vital energy resource more directly under the scrutiny of the leader of the nation.

Minister Trotman’s style of management of the oil portfolio caused Guyanese, including me, to refer to him as the Petroleum Czar of Guyana and the Grand Master of our oil sector. Like many others, I could not help noting that his facial expressions, his gait, his tone of voice and body language exuded an unsettling degree of power since he was given responsibility for oil.

Perhaps this dynamic, bold move by the President would help the Minister regroup and push him to higher levels of performance.

However, I must ask a question: What if the opposition was asked to sit alongside government on all boards dealing with oil? Can we imagine what they would have done for the psyche of Guyana?

I am fully aware that in government and out of office the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) appears to have adopted one motto: “This is abi [we] thing”. While in office, they never invited the then opposition to sit on any board, as far as I know, dealing with matters pertaining to the country’s resources, management of finances or even cultural matters (except for the National Commission of Law and Order).  It’s only too obvious the APNU+AFC Coalition is adopting this same negative philosophy as it relates to finance management, resource management and even issues pertaining to GuySuCo.

Minister Ramjattan seems to have canned the powerful and most useful National Commission of Law and Order, on which the undersigned served from its inception to the day it was disbanded.

The PNCR did boycott the commission for its own reasons after being part of it from the beginning.

As I have pointed out in several letters to the media on oil and gas and governance, this does not mean that the present government has to buy into the ‘tit for tat’ syndrome and do what the previous administration did. What if they should raise the bar to a higher level and do the right thing?  President Granger did promise inclusivity for the good of Guyana and its citizens.

What a trump card it would have been for the President and Guyana if in the interest of putting the interests of the nation above scoring political points, he had turned convention upside down and extended an invitation the opposition to play a meaningful role in the crucial management of our oil reserves. I believe this would have been the important first step on a road to peace. Alas. Only a few of us see what our political leaders do not see.

What if the brilliant mind in law and jurisprudence, Anil Nandlall was appointed as Senior Counsel by the current President? Think of what that gesture would have done to heal the division in our society. Does the President and the coalition government have the gumption to make such transformative decisions, or do they want to stay in their box as the previous administration did? But one hand can’t clap. If the President had offered Nandlall such an honour, would he have accepted it?  Anil Nandlall to this writer is deserving of silk recognition.

Yours faithfully,

Roshan Khan (Sr)

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