David Granger is desperate. Now that elections are finally set for March 2, a whole year passed the deadline, the aloof Granger suddenly has time to visit people. The problem is, everywhere he goes, he is faced with people frustrated and angry because Granger and APNU/AFC forgot all the many promises they made in 2015. Worse yet, Granger himself knows he and APNU/AFC betrayed people, including their most consistent and long-standing supporters. But Granger and APNU/AFC have become addicted to making empty promises.
Two weeks ago, Granger went to Linden, a town that has been faithful to the PNC (APNU) for more than fifty years. Linden, named after Forbes Linden Burnham, has been fiercely loyal to the PNC and their leaders, through thick and thin. He begged for a second chance because for many people, Linden and Region 10 are worse off than they were in 2015. Shamelessly, he outlined a number of new, empty promises to the people of Linden. He promised that oil wealth will transform Linden, that a private investor will establish an oil refinery in Linden by the end of next year. The same investor promised previously he would have finished the refinery by the end of 2019, ahead of first oil in Guyana. But Granger’s own Energy Department announced they have no arrangements with the refinery plans for Linden and the private investor will have to pay premium price for any oil secured from the agency. Granger also announced a new call-centre to create 500 jobs and 200 new homes for 2020. He did not mention APNU/AFC closed an existing call-centre in Linden, that it was his government that literally suspended the housing programme. Already these look like very empty promises.
Just before he went to Linden, Granger had David Patterson announce that construction of the Linden-Lethem Road will begin this week. There is no indication there is any plan to begin construction. The UK announced the DFID funds for this project will not be released before a new government is sworn in. This too, looks like another empty promise to Lindeners and the people of Region 10. Lindeners have not forgotten this was promised to them in 2015 also.
These new empty promises are not shocking to anyone in Linden. Granger and APNU/AFC made hundreds of promises to Guyanese before the 2015 elections. These promises have been totally ignored. Granger fully-well knows Lindeners have not forgotten APNU/AFC promised them in 2015 there would be a Region 10 development plan, modernisation of the bauxite industry, investment for the aluminium industry, new jobs, 200,000 hectares of new agriculture land in the intermediate savannahs, the Tiger Falls Hydroelectric project to drive industrial development, expansion of block-making capacity in Region 10, housing development, furniture industry and value-added wood products, construction of the Lethem-Linden Highway, Linden becoming the Gateway for Guyana’s Tourism, a UG campus in Linden. None of these promises were kept.
Like the people of Linden, people everywhere are frustrated by the empty promises made to them in 2015 and now hearing even more empty promises. Granger and APNU/AFC have been forced to use government to bolster their political campaign, not certain they can attract a crowd and the empty promises are part of his problem. Two weeks ago, Granger and the PNC arranged a crowd to Linden ostensibly to celebrate the PNC’s 62nd anniversary, bringing in people with GDF transportation from as far away as Regions 2,3,4,5 and 6 and fetching in children to make up the crowd. Two Sundays ago, Granger went to a Hindu School at Cornelia Ida to help celebrate a graduation and last weekend, he went to open the New Amsterdam Town Week. These are campaign events, using non-political events to get a crowd and proceeding to make vulgarly political speeches. It is disgraceful and it is against the law to abuse Government resources for partisan political campaigns.
As people show their frustration and reject the empty promises, Granger has become fearful of free speech and people exercising their fundamental right to protest. These are rights guaranteed in Guyana’s Constitution. The few who went to the New Amsterdam Town Week opening last week heard Granger declared he was a “constitutional President”. Granger was totally oblivious of the irony. The people who were mostly bussed-in with DGF buses were body-searched because Granger is morbidly afraid of being protested during his speech, like he was at the Pegasus more than a month ago. He has scorched the Constitution, totally violating it, and he wants people to acknowledge he is “constitutional”.
In spite of the resounding rejection of the empty-promise strategy employed by Granger and APNU/AFC, APNU/AFC persists parroting empty promises. The Linden example is just the start. In New Amsterdam, he outlined more promises, speaking of the thousands of jobs, the reduction of crime, the transformation of agriculture, the propelling of manufacturing and on and on. He did not mention he closed four sugar estates, put 7000 people out of work, and ignored the soaring crime in Region 6 and around the country. His empty promises worked in 2015, they will not work in 2020.