FOR Guyanese, 2016 marks 50 years since independence was won from the British Government, and President David Granger last evening raised the curtain on Guyana’s Golden Jubilee by calling for Guyanese to work towards remaking the country as the most beautiful and bountiful in the Caribbean, “enabling citizens to enjoy the good life”.Dubbed the year of “National Renaissance”, President Granger, in his 2016 address, acknowledged the shift in political culture brought on by Guyanese who embraced “a multi-party coalition in 2015.”
“It is time for a new beginning. It is time to redouble our efforts to banish crime, disease, ignorance and poverty. We aspire to strengthen national unity, expand national infrastructure, fortify national institutions, ensure national security, and extend public services,” President Granger declared.
He called for the reinforcement of national unity, wherein all sections of the population can play a role in the country’s development.
“We must, in 2016, dispel hatred among individuals and groups. We must move forward as a united nation, constantly reaffirming our national motto –‘One people, One nation, One destiny’.”
In the area of national infrastructure, the President underscored the need for physical infrastructure to aid integration and development, while providing “greater access to the resources of the hinterland, which can be exploited for the benefit of all of our people.
National infrastructure will provide the means to integrate the coastland with the hinterland”, he disclosed.
The President pointed to the need to defend the National Assembly, Judiciary, and autonomous agencies that “promote a sense of national identity and ensure a stable legal and constitutional environment”.
On the need to return democracy to the hands of the people in the grassroots level, President Granger championed Local Government Elections set for March 2016. “We shall ensure that Local Government Elections are conducted this year to empower our people to better administer their communities.”
On the issue of national security, President Granger plugged the continued reinforcement of the country’s territorial integrity “from neighbours to the east and west”.
“We must also secure our citizens from the threat of national and transnational crime, violence and chaos. We shall continue to work to ensure public trust by improving and extending education; health; sanitation; water supply; electricity services; affordable housing and social protection to the vulnerable; and decent working conditions to everyone,” the President said, adding that these services must be complemented by safe communities with adequate facilities for recreation.
Recalling the many accomplishments of the country in the last 50 years, President Granger said that although Guyana was faced with many challenges after independence, the University of Guyana, multilateral schools, Cheddi Jagan International Airport, and the building of good governance offices all stand as testimony to the country’s perseverance.
“We are proud of our achievements over the past 50 years. We shall be prouder if we use this special year of our ‘national renaissance’ to remove the remaining obstacles that still keep us disunited, underdeveloped and insecure,” the President said.
By Derwayne Wills