No room for dissension

PNCR Chairman and Attorney General Basil Williams sits beside his wife, Mrs Joann Williams at the opening of the party congress (Delano Williams photo)

…Williams warns PNCR against outside interference
…says President needs winning team to ‘deliver the goods’ to Guyanese

CHAIRMAN of the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) Basil Williams, has warned his comrades against breaking ranks and interference from outside, even as he urged that President David Granger be given a ‘winning team’ that will help him deliver the good life to Guyanese.

A party stalwart and the country’s Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Williams made the comments Friday evening while delivering remarks at the opening of the party’s 20th Biennial Congress being held at Congress Place, Sophia, Greater Georgetown.
Lay out plans

PNCR Chairman Basil Williams delivering remarks at the congress

A Senior Counsel, Williams told the congress that the party is at a juncture where it must reflect on what it has achieved over the last two years, “where we are presently and where we are taking Guyana in the future.” According to him, it is only when they would have taken account of their achievements as well as failures, that “we would be able to position ourselves to do better.” “Therefore, as we engage with each other over the next two days by formulating ways to execute our vision for our great nation, please be reminded that our purpose here is to lay out the party’s plans as we prepare ourselves for the next two years and beyond.”

Triumph and trials
Williams said the PNCR has seen its fair share of both triumphs and trials, but has always remained resolute in its ideals. “We are a formidable party that has grown from strength to strength and today we are in the best position to take Guyana to higher heights. However, we will only get there if we work together. This party was birthed out of the need to put country first at a time when our country was replete with racial hostility and strife. It was during that time that our founding leader and Guyana’s first Executive President, Comrade LFS Burnham and our founding Chairman Comrade Joseph Latchmansingh crafted the vision for the party, that is, to better the lives of all Guyanese irrespective of our diversity and differences.”

Williams said those founding leaders believed in a democratic process where all can participate and benefit from the resources of this great nation. He said it was through strong leadership that the PNC/R led by these men and others was able to win Guyana’s independence from the British and subsequently crystallizing the country’s republican status.

Hard work, loss of lives
Harking back to the 23 years in opposition, Williams said the party has gotten this far because of strong leadership and this type of leadership must be passed on to future generations. “Comrades, the journey of the PNC/R was not an easy one. In and out of government this party has always championed the rights of the Guyanese people and advocated for good policies. While we were in opposition it was fierce leadership led by President Hoyte, Hon. Robert Corbin and His Excellency President Granger that got us through the 23 years. It took years of hard work and lives lost along the way to bring us to this point where we are now in government, along with the other members of the APNU+AFC,” Williams who is also Guyana’s attorney general, said.

Reorganise grassroots
He said as the party forges ahead it must not lose the common touch but must reach out to everyone. “I believe we must go back to basics and therefore we must give our energy to reorganising at the grass- roots, especially as we prepare for our local government elections in November, as well as general elections in 2020. It is because of your ‘grass root’ activism that we were victorious in 2015. As chairman, my long-term plan is to put in place a council that would work closely with party chairs throughout the regions to create a “constituent model” to assist in resolving issues that are affecting our grassroots communities,” Williams said.

Making a pitch to his supporters who welcomed him with thunderous applause, Williams said he believes in the People’s National Congress/ Reform. “I believe in you, and the work you have done for this party. I believe that the vision and shared values of Linden Forbes Sampson Burnham resonate in us. It is because of those shared values of country first, that we are here.” He continued: ”As someone who has grown up in the party I can testify to our commitment to the Guyanese people and for this reason I am proud to be associated with this party. I have worked under the leadership of all the Presidents that served in government and I was mentored by them. Even now, I continue to serve and be mentored under the leadership of our sitting President. My experience as a young person in the party thought me the value of hard work and I attribute my success in life to the time spent serving in the party. I am passionate about young people and their role in activism. It is important that you become the change you want to see and play an active role in the development of your country. “

Dreams and visions

A section of the large audience including ministers of government at the opening of congress (Delano Williams photo)

Williams asserted that as the party continues to grow and become stronger, the old must collaborate with the new. “The word of God says in the book of Joel 2:28 that God will pour out his spirit on all flesh and old men will dream dreams and young men will see visions. I posit to you today that both dreams and visions are needed to develop Guyana. As chairman, I have always engaged with the young members of our party and taken on board their suggestions for reform. At the last national elections, you contributed significantly to getting youths to the poll. You took to social media and developed innovative ways to campaign. For that we thank you. I implore you to remember that the future belongs to you and you must not shrink back, but continue to be proactive without looking for a reward,” Williams said.

He stressed that serving the people effectively requires “us to work on finding a way to integrate all our communities.” He said it is his hope that integration is not only viewed as an intellectual concept, but will be used to bring us all together through all the regional groups. “We must be viewed as coordinated, and as a bloc in which we parlay into meaningful projects for our individual communities. Comrades, we have arrived at the most critical juncture in the history of the party, and indeed of the Guyanese nation.”
Touching on the emerging oil sector, Williams said in a matter of months the country has to determine this fundamental epoch-making question — who will the Guyanese people entrust with the custody, care and control of the proceeds of our abundant oil-and-gas resources?

Elect tested and tried
He said “surely not those who in 23 years failed to distribute what wealth we had, to all of the Guyanese people, but hoarded it for themselves, families and cronies. Yes, they starved us; they impoverished us; and discriminated against and marginalised us. It falls to us therefore, in these hallowed halls of Congress Place, to save and protect our nation by ensuring we elect our most “tested, tried and proven comrades,” including with a history of sharing and distributing, to enable us to gain the confidence of the electorate, to win the slated National and Regional Elections.”

Williams then warned that this was not the time to experiment or take chances with another 23 years. “We cannot sit around like timorous souls, we must strike out like bold spirits! “Is it not written– If the blind leads the blind, they both shall fall into the bottomless pit.” It is therefore vital that President David Arthur Granger has a winning team to help him to continue in government, so he can give the Guyanese people the good life he promised them.”