President Dr Irfaan Ali met with residents of the island of Leguan, Region Three (Essequibo Islands-West Demerara) on Wednesday, and engaged them in discussions on infrastructural development and other projects.
Since he took office in August 2020, the Head of State has been leading by example, as he has visited communities, meeting with large and small groups of citizens as he embarked on his journey as President. This is unlike what Guyanese have seen in the period of 2015 to early 2020, when the Government seemed disconnected in its top-down approach to the management of the country.
Thus, Wednesday’s meeting with a small group of merely eight persons from Leguan is a simple gesture, but a bold statement by the Head of State that he is willing to meet with, and listen to the concerns of, Guyanese.
Following his election to office, President Ali visited several communities across Guyana, where, in addition to plans for development, he communicated the need for social harmony. “I want to bring the country together. You have a President who is willing to work with everyone,” the Head of State has said. Ever since then, Ali has, on many occasions, underlined the need for peace and harmony in Guyana, and pledged that he is committed to working with all stakeholders to achieve this objective. On many of his visits across Guyana, he has been consistent with this call. He has also assured that he would act in the best interest of all Guyanese, whether they supported his party or not. The President’s sentiments continue even now, and it is very encouraging and could only mean well for Guyana. In all of these meetings and outreaches, the Head of State has emphasised the fact that he wants to personally hear about citizens’ problems, saying that he has to “lead by example too”. In our Tuesday’s editorial, we recognised the Government for truly listening to the needs of citizens. In that editorial, this newspaper pointed to the fact that in August 2020, the Guyana Council of Organisations for Persons with Disabilities (GCOPD), the umbrella body representing persons with disabilities, issued a strong call for steps to be taken to ensure that the national developmental plans are inclusionary and create equal opportunities for persons with disabilities. That call, this newspaper noted, manifested itself in the 2021 National Budget with the allocation of $120 million to safeguard the rights of persons living with disabilities, along with $50 million to the National Commission on Disability and plans to build a $30 million complex at Mahaica for vocational training for persons with disabilities.
We believe that Dr Ali took over the Presidency at a very opportune time. As someone who has served in the Cabinet and the Public Service, he has been exposed to a range of challenges, and he has a full grasp of the kind of leadership that is needed at this time.
Dr Ali had outlined a range of policies and programmes his Government would embark upon to bring relief to businesses and individuals alike, and he has thus far stayed true to his words.
We have said before that the March 2020 elections had once again reminded us of how polarised the nation is; and perhaps now, more than ever, there is need for all stakeholders, including the current administration, political parties, civil society groups, religious leaders, and more particularly the Ethnic Relations Commission, to renew their efforts to forge ethnic harmony in the country.
Our political leaders have a crucial role to play in building peace and ethnic harmony in Guyana. The President is leading by example, and we are very pleased to see this happening. We expect all the others to follow suit, and put country first, above partisan interests. The elections have long gone, and it is time to start focusing on improving the lives of all citizens.
Over the past few months, we have noted quite a lot of divisive content on social media. This could do much harm to our already polarised society. Political leaders, rather than fanning the flames, must speak firmly against such actions. They must rein in their supporters and insist that they behave responsibly, as the nation’s future is at stake. That is the kind of political leadership that is needed at this time.
Guyana has yet another glorious opportunity to fashion a society that is modern, inclusive, progressive, and one in which all citizens could be proud.