LET me start by publicly assuring Bharrat Jagdeo that there existed no competition on my part for the attention of the men who work in bauxite that would cause him to think I was jealous he and not me won their attention. This has to be some ego Jagdeo slugged around all these years and finally unable to contain himself, blurted it out at his last press conference. In this department, our desire is polar opposite and it’s hoped that this admission by me not only deflates misplaced egos, but also lays to rest ill-conceived notions to the contrary.
My interest is about protecting, defending, and advancing rights and the rule of law. Any person who seeks public office and is prepared to violate and transgress these tenets shall hear from me. In this specific case, Jagdeo has been involved in numerous violations and transgressions while serving as president of this country and he must be held accountable for the abuse of the privilege granted to him by the people.
At the said press conference, he took objection to the mention of his name/stewardship of this country whenever something is said by me of the APNU+AFC Government. It is his belief also that I and others are making a profit on the backs of the African community, pretending that we are advancing their interests. In one specific instance, he sought to cast aspersions on my family’s pursuit to bring resolution to the dispute surrounding Kingelly Village, West Coast Berbice, bought by my great-great-great-great grandfather Cudjoe McPherson.
Being an advocate for people’s well-being and development has always seen me at the forefront representing individuals and interest groups, regardless of origin, and taking strident positions against those who threaten or deny these. Today, Africans’ rights continue to be under threat by persons who were/are given the privilege to earn from the state and served/ serve the people. Being a member of this community, I shall not shirk the responsibility of advancing their rights and embracing their cause. Failure on my part to do so would disqualify me from speaking about rights and the rule of law for any other community.
Let it be known, I shall not be anyone’s lackey, for I am not the person who will not speak against the aggression and atrocities against my group for fear that I will offend another group. Where in the past and present I have fearlessly held African leadership accountable, don’t expect me not to hold leaders of other races to similar standards. For me, such matters are not about colour or about race; they are about rights and laws, but Jagdeo can only see issues through the lens of race.
It was the same man in 2001 who went to Albion when the citizens rioted, burnt the magistrate’s car, attempted to burn down the Albion Police Station, and one person was shot, that ordered the guns of the police be taken away and the Berbice top management be replaced. The people protesting were Indians and the police Africans. This act sent a message to his Indian constituency that Africans were transgressing their rights and he removed them. Every act in this scenario failed to respect the rights of all and uphold the rule of law and universally acceptable principles.
Jagdeo’s interest is about power and more power. He derives pleasure dividing the races so he can pursue his quest to dominate, acquire and maintain that power to further his personal enrichment and that of his cronies. He flaunts and parades most if not all of the characteristics of an ethnic entrepreneur. His programme in treating with Africans during his tenure is similar to the treatment Israel pursues with Palestine. During his tenure, he executed policies, programmes and acts to make Africans feel they have to grovel and lose their dignity and respect to gain anything in society.
With reference to the bauxite workers, he travelled to Kwakwani and Everton and told workers, ‘Lincoln Lewis cannot give you anything, I have the money, so listen to me, I can make you get money.’ The money he was speaking about did not belong to him, it belonged to the state, which means it is the people’s money. He further told the workers he would give them money for redundancy, but failed to tell them the formula he would have applied to make such payment was negotiated between LINMINE and the bauxite unions, the Guyana Bauxite & General Workers Union (GB&GWU) and GMWU. Such is the pit of his deceit and the height of his cunning.
In 2002, he gave a commitment that the people in Kwakwani will get land for housing and agriculture, and an all-weather road from Kwakwani to Linden. Instead, the people got fooled. When he was finished with this deception, he moved to break up the workers’ Pension Plan, worth in excess of $2.5 billion, the single largest pool of money owned by Africans. He also took away the tax-free overtime on premium hours worked by bauxite workers, that they fought for and achieved under the Desmond Hoyte administration, and which was extended to sugar workers.
This man loves power so much and will wish to have it in every sphere of this society to the point where he didn’t mind failing to develop a constructive plan to save sugar, but was more driven in misleading the workers that he cared about them by pouring billions into the industry which was to maintain the fat cat lifestyle of the party hierarchy and their friends. Sugar workers should be incensed that he has used them in furtherance of his agenda and not theirs.
Today, when the industry faces deeper crises, he is crying foul and giving the impression he cares, but cannot challenge this government by producing one line of any plan to salvage the industry. He is using sugar workers to further his self-serving agenda. All those years in office and at the helm of government, it was never about the workers who are merely seen as animals on a farm to produce and provide votes at elections time. When GAWU challenged GuySuCo, it was the Jagdeo government that gave Nanda Gopaul, then Chairman of the Board, instructions to write the union threatening to de-recognise it. He never cared nor does he have the capacity to care for others, and sugar workers should find his presence in their midst intolerable.
At the last elections, he accused David Granger of having blood on his hands when he presided over the state and hundreds of persons were murdered extra-judicially, his government partnered with questionable characters that saw the narco-militarisation of Guyana. Arguably to date, this remains the bloodiest period in this nation’s history. If Granger has blood on his hands, Jagdeo has it all over his body. At the same time, let me seek to make it very clear: the David Granger/Moses Nagamootoo Government shall not escape accountability for those who have been killed under unnatural circumstances on their watch and the Coroner’s Act not activated.
Roger Luncheon, Head of the Presidential Secretariat, had sworn under oath in the High Court that there was no African person in this country qualified to head a foreign mission. Such discrimination was part of Jagdeo’s programme of economic genocide in the African community. In Opposition, that party screamed there must be ethnic balance in the public service and military but came to office and failed to put a programme in place to bring about it, including calling for balance in the private sector. Where they do want Africans to give of their labour and legitimately earn, when they have pursued active policies and programmes to marginalise them and shut them out of the formal economy?
In the face of the above atrocities, don’t expect me not to crusade to hold Jagdeo accountable and remind this nation what his brutish and divisive brand of politics has done to all of us. And whereas his greatest strength is that he has no shame, let me remind him that he has no singular right to this nation’s patrimony, nor can he stand up and make any honest claim he demonstrated interest, policy, programme or respect for law to bring about racial equality and respect in this society. This administration is put on notice it shall not be allowed to follow a similarly destructive path.
Every time Africans speak about organising for their well-being and development, Jagdeo and his cohorts refer to this progressive stance as being racist. When he and his cohorts assemble at the bottom houses in the various communities, planning what programmes will be used to dis-enfranchise groups, they don’t see such acts as being racists, but God-given duty to pursue discrimination.
With such wickedness in our midst, the law becomes our only shield and weapon. As it pertains to Kingelly, there’s a simple message for Anil Nandlall, the legal representative of those who claim land belongs to them in this village — get your facts right, for the more you seek to malign Cudjoe McPherson’s heirs, the more we shall stand steadfast.