Volume 37 No 16 May 6, 2020


Guyana’s ‘game-changer’

It is worth reiterating that forthcoming oil wealth has exponentially enriched the stakes for whichever party forms the next Guyana government. In the emergent lexicon of our turbulent, infectious times, wherein is contained all that is hopeful, miraculous, and pivotal for a paradigm shift from any pernicious present, Guyana’s discovery of oil is a “a game-changer”.

According to discovery estimates, Guyana is blessed with over eight billion barrels of oil, and counting. Recently, the World Bank’s semi-annual report for the Latin America and Caribbean projected Guyana could see an overall economic growth of 51.7 percent this year; 8.7 percent in 2021; and 2.6 percent in 2022. Before the contemporary, debilitating crisis of the coronavirus pandemic, last year’s economy was already signalling its promising inherence, registering an uptick at 4.7 percent.

Even as the world’s economy grapples with the ubiquitous Covid-19 infection, forthcoming oil wealth, despite diminished international consumption and low prices, still remains a “game-changer” for Guyana. It also means that on the political front, whichever party legitimately emerges to form Guyana’s next government will take control of petroleum’s enormous economic potentiality, and also be positioned to extend its longevity in power.

The stakes are also high for Guyanese nationals on the ground, at home, and in the diaspora. There is a little utopic longing in each of us, and March 3 had an anticipated outcome steeped with the idealism of a better day coming for Guyana; that following what were delayed polls, the new dawn would see an emergent government focusing on wise management of the “game-changer” oil bonanza.

Nothing as such has come to pass since March 2; in fact, we are still struggling to arrive at a credible vote count.

Sadly, a “new normal” is yet to emerge in Guyana despite its petroleum pivot. New daylight is yet to arrive that would see disbursement of the forthcoming oil patrimony for national development, and its citizens’ enrichment. Sadly, a better quality of life has always remained elusive.

The elusiveness remains a haunting status quo. Without a legitimate government in place, there can be no directed interventions so new oil wealth targets eradication of indigence through increased employment and expanded social services. A government is yet to be sworn-in that will focus on national reconstruction by extending infrastructure in industry, education, and medical services. A future is yet to unfold that will equip forthcoming generations of Guyanese.

Sadly, none of this has come to pass, despite free and fair elections on March 2. Instead, we note a stretching out of time, a running down of the clock through procrastination, as remarkably, APNU+AFC frustrates a fair and credible vote recount. It is as if, having recognised that Guyana has pivoted with its oil “game-changer”, APNU+AFC has tightened its covetous grip on power, with its eye glued on forthcoming patrimony.

We acknowledge growing disappointment and impatience at the frustrations holding back a credible vote recount. More palpably, we acknowledge with the frustration a corollary of anxiety, shame, and humiliation.

It is with shame we note how the Caribbean, and international groups, are gazing with bewilderment at the clumsy attempts by APNU+AFC to rig the electoral outcome. Why is it that for each democratic baby step Guyana takes forward, it is so easily catapulted backwards to its dystopic, electoral past?

The revelation of election box tampering, made by election observer, former Jamaica Prime Minister Bruce Golding, is humiliating. Golding noted an APNU+AFC operative’s all-thumbs rigging that showed blatant, premeditated miscounting in four ballot boxes.

Guyana has been down this dark road before. It recalls the terror of “choke-and-rob”, that wanton approach of criminality, which in its targeting, brazenly, and with entitlement, stole jeweled possessions off a victim to a full, helpless public gaze.

Times have changed; now, it is a different game. Decent Guyanese must ensure its “choke-and-rob” history does not brazenly purloin our “game-changer”.