Region 5 will breathe once more, after five years

Dear Editor,
Please allow me first to congratulate both Chairman Vickchand Ramphal and Vice-Chairman Rion Peters on their recent re-election to office for a second term.
I know both of the gentlemen will serve, and serve this Mahaica-Berbice region well, and ensure that developmental works are done in ALL of Region 5; not in some villages or sectors, but in all sectors. I am penning this letter to your newspaper with joy, because I am now assured that the people of Region 5 no longer have to face abuses and harsh words when asking for things to be done that would better their lives and surroundings.
As a former regional councillor who served this region, I have walked all the villages week after week in the past five years, and tried my utmost best to ensure that things happen within every village and NDC. I had the opportunity to listen to, and try to help, people from both sides of the political divide, and mostly heard the cries of the people – especially the APNU-AFC supporters – for betterment when it comes to their daily livelihoods.
In the five years of the APNU\PNC\AFC Government, I served the RDC and always told my fellow councillors that this place is worse than a fish market when we are supposed to make the right decisions to take the region forward. I had to sit and endure what the PNC councillors were doing because I had no one to complain to, because most persons in the AFC leadership were all about themselves.
Yes, sometimes I stood up and talked when things needed to be debated, and sometimes I sat and just looked on, as I glanced with a smile at the PPP strongman on the council, Rion Peters.
Why did I do that? Because of the manner in which some of the councillors on my side were behaving most of the time. And I must admit they were wrong, but it wasn’t my place to tell them that; it was that of the chair of the RDC, because he has the power to ask them to leave or excuse themselves from the rest of the proceedings, but he never did so authoritatively.
After several meetings, I would go to both chair and vice and say to them, “Padna, something wrong, the chair has the power and ain’t using it, making those people abuse the Standing Orders of the Council”. I often told the chair he has the authority to put someone from the administration to act as clerk of the RDC meeting if the clerk, who is the REO, is walking out; because the clerk of council cannot call off any RDC meeting, the chair is the only one with that power.
But wait, while the chair opted a view times to put someone to act, the PNC dictator and ‘bad man’ REO, who is the clerk of the RDC, demanded and ordered all the heads of departments (HoDs) and staff to walk out of the meetings when he is absent, and if they failed to comply with this order, he would deal with them.
This now leads me to say that this very PNC dictator REO then took it upon himself to transfer heads of departments and mostly take away from them their assigned duties.
The Regional Chief Accountant (CA) was removed from his post and put to monitor NDC.
The Regional Engineer was relieved of some of his responsibilities, and was put to look at just roads and nothing else in the region.
I again objected, because the engineer has to be the person who sees the technical things being done in all works, and also has to ensure and overlook contractors working with the bills of quantities while ensuring there is value for money.
The PNC dictator REO and I weren’t seeing eye to eye most of the time, because I say it as I see it, and I saw he was dictating and doing things that were far from what were expected of him as REO.
After he dictated and decided that he would throw out the cash crop farmers from the farmland and start a model farm (this was a cash cow), I stepped in and asked to be part of that model farm project. Why? Because at that time I was thinking it would be good, because the proposals I would put forward would see farmhands and technical staff being hired.
I proposed a NAREI and GSA training centre, shade house projects, and much more, especially the planting of cash crops that would be sold to buyers in Region 5 who daily take produce to the markets.
I fought the REO to ensure that those cash crop farmers whom he wanted to move have land provided to them, so that they can continue farming; and I did make that happen. I could not have done anything else, because the dictator REO had his own agenda. In a subsequent letter, I will talk about this project.
When we decided to start planting the cash crops, the REO asked me to get some boys to work full-time on the farm. I did get the workers, because I know Bath\Woodley Park NDC is the heart of cash crop farming. I had him hire five persons for a start. All was going well. Cash crops were being planted and resold to local buyers, and I was happy.
Then came the bomb: the REO started to dig fish ponds in the red sand (reef sand) area to cultivate hussar and tilapia, and I objected. He purchased coconut plants, and I objected. He wanted to plant eschallot under shade houses, and I objected. That was when he started to kick me out of the project.
Within two weeks of that incident, a few Indian farm workers told me they wanted to leave the work because they didn’t like what was happening, and before they should get fired, they wanted to leave.
After listening to them, I went to the REO and started a really frank conversation with him because I saw what he had in mind regarding those workers.
Those workers were accused of carrying news to the PPP. It was an excuse the dictator was using to hire his PNC people.
Anyone can check the records from 2018 to present day to determine how many persons were hired to work at that farm, and who they were. Anyone can check on the number of drivers who were hired in the PNC’s five years, and who they were. Anyone can check the record to determine how many persons were hired by the RDC, and who they were. Anyone can check the records and see who were the contractors getting major works in Region 5. Anyone can check, see, and compare the works being done in various villages and determine where works were taking place. Anyone can check the record and know there was serious self-centred business happening in the RDC administration under the dictator PNC REO, especially in the area of D&I.
I can go on, and would do so later to put the icing on the cake. I must say that I complained to the AFC on numerous occasions, but was asked by some to shut up, although a few members and two of the leaders encouraged me to go public. Well, going public under the PNC, one would have to think twice, because of the abuse that was coming from the petroleum adviser and some of her PNC people in the region.
I always stood under the shed at the RDC and said to all PNC, AFC, and even the dictator REO, that the tables would be turned one day, and those very people that they are stopping from breathing would breathe once again.
Breathe, Region Five! Breathe once again!

Abel Seetaram
Fmr Councillor
Region 5