Aug 11, 2017
In my Tuesday, April 18 column last year with the title, “God gave Guyanese a chance in 2015; he won’t do it again,” I wrote the following; “As the days pass, Guyanese in and out of the land are seeing dangerous signs of a doomed future. Things are happening in this country that make one feel that we have not left the past behind.” That remark was made because of creeping regressions I saw as early as one year into the new government.
If I could have seen the emergence of those tentacles back then, then, fifteen months later either the octopus has gone back to the bottom of the ocean or he has climbed out of the water and is on land. Which one? He is on land.
The essential point of that April 18, 2016 column was that the defeat of the PPP in May 2015 gave us a chance to concretize justice, liberties, moral obligations and civilization in this sad land. From what we have seen in 2017, it doesn’t look like we will use the change of government in 2015 to enhance democracy. I wrote in April last year that May 2015 was a chance God gave us to free ourselves and if we don’t, God will not provide another opportunity.
I am convinced from what I have seen since April 2016 that we are not interested in freedoms and liberties in Guyana. We are allowing the sins of past dictatorships to dwell among us in the present, and we will take them with us into the future. If there is a God that gave us that priceless moment in May 2015 that we are currently throwing away, God will leave this nation to fend for itself. Unfolding realities are daunting to the spirit.
We have two leaders who should understand how history comes back to haunt human society. But it appears they don’t. And we, the Guyanese people are just spiritually dead, so these two leaders will continue on their soulless journey. David Granger is a trained historian. He has co-edited a huge volume on African history, but where today is his understanding of history? Granger took some simple grammar in the Constitution and refused to accept its banal meaning. The words “and any other fit and proper person,” Granger put his own interpretation to, and held on to it inflexibly. It was a dangerous thing to do, and it wasn’t in keeping with the opportunity to concretize greater freedoms after the loss of power by Mr. Jagdeo.
You can literally count on your fingers the number of persons in this entire country who saw the ominous pathway the President had taken and spoke up against it. Even when the Chief Justice instructed Granger on what, “any other fit and proper person” means, the President’s riposte was that she gave her interpretation, he will stick with his.
This is what post-2015 in Guyana looks like. Suppose a crazy man wins the presidency in 2020 and simply emulates Mr. Granger and interprets the Constitution the way he wants to. So he says “on attainment of age 18” doesn’t mean 18; the word “attainment” means you don’t have to be eighteen at the time. That can happen in life and Granger ought to know it can happen.
It is the same with Nagamootoo. What makes Nagamootoo think that the PPP cannot return to power in 2020 and give private media owners, its own definition of “public service”. And so under the new PPP Government, every radio and television station has to broadcast one hour of public service, and that includes propaganda which the government will say falls under the broad scope of public service.
I do not agree that private broadcasters must set aside an hour each day for government’s message. But who did Nagamootoo consult? The former GNBA head, Leonard Craig, wrote to say he didn’t agree with the one-hour time allocation. He thought it should have been 30 minutes. Was Craig asked for his input?
I know several persons in the media, with decades of service, who told me Nagamootoo did not seek their experience and expertise. I have more than thirty years experience in the media, which also takes in television. I was not consulted, but if I were, I would have advised a totally different wording of public service, and would not have agreed to one hour daily.
So where do we go from here as 2017 moves on? One thing for sure, don’t expect God to save us.