1. What wisdom can you find greater than kindness.
2. What justice can you find greater than a fair contract.
3. What courage can you find greater than to fight for what is right.
4. What temperance can you find greater than perseverance.
Wisdom, Justice, Courage and Temperance, these are the virtues that have stood the test of time. Sadly, we have discarded wisdom and justice from Exxon’s Esso 2016 agreement with the Government of Guyana. Clearly courage is now required to cast aside the ruthless, unfair and abusive elements in the contract. The acts of courage needed will have to be twinned with temperance, as we are in an uphill battle against a global corporate giant.
Should we withdraw from representing the beneficial interests of a clear majority of Guyanese and instead give way to the greedy 1%; letting them fritter away unheeded, the resources of our nation? I have watched key leadership in the opposition party join forces seamlessly with Exxon’s Esso and the party in power, against the Guyanese people as their loud silence on the atrocious contents of the 2% agreement deafens us all.
There is no public space or gap between the leadership of the PNC and the PPP, when it comes to being silent on the terms of the sovereignty-invasive 2% agreement. We will hear the platitudes of the need to learn from our past mistakes; epistles on what is required to “benefit” from the contract as it is; the oil experts needed, the structure of a sovereign wealth fund; arguments over who controls the wealth fund, opinions on limitations or excesses related to Ministerial Powers; the different departments and agencies needed and even hollow and fantastical plans to give Guyanese from an unknown year US$1 Billion annually (250,000 households multiplied by US$5,000). Considering that US$1 Billion requires revenue of US$50 Billion, when selling 500,000 barrels per day in 2025 as projected by Exxon’s Esso, then computing at US$70 per barrel, using a 360-day year, Exxon’s Esso claims revenue subject to royalty less than or equal to US$12.6 Billion, on which the crumbly 2% royalty amounts to US$252 Million. The consequence of this elaborate and shiny US$5,000 per household dangling bait is then debated by our other intellectuals, as to its merits and negatives. What fools we make of ourselves as we argue over the colour, length, size and shape of the emperor’s new clothes, instead of spending that energy on ridding ourselves of the 2% contract and obtaining a contract that can ensure households are allowed an annual payout from Royalties.
Not surprisingly our moneyed intellectuals are fixated on becoming wealthier. I support the noble thought of giving each household monies annually, from our oil resources. However, let us first have a fair agreement that enables such a payout, respects the Guyanese people and is consistent with international normalcy as it relates to royalty on oil, as paid to countries by corporations in the Oil & Gas Industry.
What is crystal clear and obvious to anyone with common sense and good intentions for the Guyanese people is that the 2% contract must be renegotiated or scrapped. But, but – we will lose the elections, mumble our politicians; they care not about the massive opportunity losses to Guyana and the Guyanese people. It is not paramountcy of the party that matters now, it is the paramountcy of power and material wealth for a few. Do the politicians not realize that courage and perseverance will benefit Guyanese ten times more; if only we show the courage and perseverance needed.
The thinking (to diminish the meaning of the adjective) of our politicians is that once elections results are announced in favour of party G; even if the numbers at the various polling stations show that Party R has won, and the United States President immediately congratulates Guyana’s Presidential Candidate of Party G, the election declaration will then be accepted as final, by other countries with minor exceptions. Of course, we will have the usual post-mortem electoral analysis of what could have been done better, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera from all the respected local and international institutions and Governments in countries such as the United Kingdom and Canada, most of the other countries will queue up behind the declaration of the United States and the agents of ExxonMobil. That is the quandary of our politicians: personal power or the welfare for Guyana and Guyanese.
A book authored by Guyanese Eric M. Phillips and titled “Know Thyself”, published in 2013 – referenced Aesop as the greatest story teller of all time… and that Aesop fables were short simple tales with moral endings transcending time and place.
One of Aesop’s famous quotations referenced in the book is “United we stand, divided we fall.”
Guyanese political, civil and media leadership need to stand united against this ignoble 2% contract.