A President of the people – solving people’s problems on the ground

On Friday, November 13, Guyana’s President, Dr. Irfaan Ali, was present in Region 6. For several hours, he sat patiently, intently listening to people, understanding their problems and taking action right there and then, to bring relief to them. If the problems were not fully resolved at the time, he started action that would bring relief to the people. There was no “we will check on this and get back to you”. The President instructed officers from the various agencies to address the people’s problems there and then, not with explanations why those problems arose, not with promises to look into the problems, but with action there and then. In the process, President Irfaan Ali showed why he is rapidly earning a reputation as the People’s “action” President.
President Irfaan Ali’s approach, and his calm, friendly, caring disposition during Friday’s session in New Amsterdam was not the first time he demonstrated this side of himself to the people of Guyana. This has been the style for the first 100 days in office, and it is earning him the title of “the People’s President”.
His demeanour as the People’s President is in stark contrast with that of the President Guyana had between May 2015 and August 2020. In David Granger, Guyana had an aloof President, one who was rarely among his people. When President Granger showed up among the Guyanese people, it was almost always for an event, during which he arrived more as a king, and left without any meaningful engagement with the people. He often showed up more like Kim Jong-un of North Korea, security detail and all. In contrast, President Irfaan Ali showed up like other PPP Presidents: with minimal security, but with many of the Government personnel who are responsible for solving people’s problems.
After listening to an elderly gentleman explaining the difficulties he is encountering to get his NIS benefits – although he has represented his case to NIS personnel for years, and although he has proof of his contributions to NIS – the President instructed the NIS senior staff responsible to ensure the man receives his payment by Tuesday. The President listened to a little girl who explained that, because she has no computer, she cannot access the online courses provided during the present COVID-19 lockdown of schools. His response was to find her a tablet on the spot. The President listened to an elderly lady who has been complaining for a long time about a heap of dirt placed in front of her home, and other than being an eyesore, it is affecting her movement into and out of her yard. He asked the Regional Chairman to get the overseer to immediately make arrangements to clear the dirt before he left to come back to Georgetown.
He addressed issues relating to land titles, water, electricity, and many others. In every instance, he started a process of remedy for the problems that affect the quality of life for citizens. Some of those problems were resolved right away. For those that could not be resolved right away, the President initiated a process that would bring resolution in a timely manner.
I was not there with the President on this particular trip, but I watched the many news clips, the many Facebook descriptions of the meeting. I was in Region 6 on Sunday, November 15, I spoke to many people; all, without exception, described as remarkable what they saw and experienced. Many said to me, “I never saw anything like that. He never showed anger, he never showed disinterest. He was engaged”. I met persons who did not vote for President Irfaan Ali but who conceded he earned their respect and admiration.
While I was not physically present with him this time, I have been with him at other times. What I heard people echo about the encounter on Friday, I have seen many times before. The Guyanese people in every Region will see this many times over the next five years and subsequently, because the people of Guyana will vote for this President to serve two terms.
President Irfaan Ali has clearly embarked on a mission to bring his Government to the people everywhere they live. Not just because it is the wise thing, the right thing, to do, but because that is who he is.
In taking his government to the people, he continues a PPP-style governance. President Bharrat Jagdeo built on President Cheddi Jagan’s reputation as the People’s President. While Cheddi was always among the people, President Bharrat Jagdeo decided to take the Cabinet to the people. It was during President Bharrat Jagdeo’s term in office that the Cabinet held regular outreaches across Guyana. Now President Irfaan Ali is adding another layer to bringing government to the people. For the People’s President, dreams are not for the sleeping, they are making lives better while we are awake. The PPP Government led by the People’s President is on a mission to transform our country, so that the dreams of every Guyanese can come true.

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