To become a leader
Guyana Chronicle
April 8, 2002

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The calls for a new leader for the PNC is amusing. My reluctance to engage in this discussion may be seen through my naivety of this letter and issue.

In all of the letters written on this subject very little about the qualifications of the referred to candidates has been exhaustively explored.

I have heard the names repeatedly mentioned but never have I read about the policy attributes that make any of these candidates qualified to be Guyana's President. Qualification does not mean that a person has just received a "Law Degree" nor does it mean that a person is so qualified because he/she has been a practicing attorney for a number of years with impeccable party affiliation. We have seen the results and works of those of whom many felt were very qualified to govern Guyana. For the past three decades we have seen the non-descript policies that have led to economic and political inhibitors that stifled Guyana's growth. We have seen and heard inflammatory statements emanating from the minds of those we deemed as qualified. Surprisingly, calls for political exclusion on the part of those that have used inciting cliché and or statements have been somewhat mute.

Guyana has too much to lose if unqualified persons are elected to higher office. A university degree does not automatically propel one to the higher order of leadership. Guyana is a racially diverse society, and as such, must select a leader that is sensitive to the aspirations of the entire citizenry. The selected leader must have a vision of inclusion and should never alienate a certain sector of the population to gain favour with other groups for political superiority. That leader must have a specific plan for developing the nation as a whole, with the entire nation's interest being paramount. That leader must be flexible and be able to accept constructive criticism and suppress his/her vindictive urge.

Guyana's leader, and the leader of the major political parties must be able to review and change "policy path" if and when necessary.

Also of importance, the electorate must induce the aspiring leader/leaders to divulge his or her proposal for development and national unity. It is not adequate to claim that jobs will be created, but a leader must explicitly explain how and where those jobs will materialize. What types of jobs he hopes to create. A weak plan that crafts an environment of subsistence living should be rejected. A leader must explain, how and from, where the finances will come and on what infrastructure investments will be made. Placing the country in deeper debt by borrowing and investing in projects that will not yield a positive return on investments will not suffice. By knowing what and how things will be done, the electorate will be more informed and knowledgeable to make decisions about which policy advocate gives Guyana the best chance for development.

Leadership talent is not innately monopolistic to only one ethnic group therefore, all policy matters must be explored and discussed with the citizenry, encompassing all religious and ethnic beliefs. All ethnicity should be considered for party leadership. The supporting public must be given the opportunity to ask questions of the leader, before the elections, only then will weaknesses or strengths surface, and thus allow for an informed decision. To have a closed party selection process only continues the race based decision making. An open selection process will also negate the need to continue voting along racial lines, because if each candidate is given an equal chance to emerge as the party's leader then a more wide acceptance by the electorate is possible.

To have candidates selected by the out going leadership lends to favoritism and nepotism. Qualified candidates who may have criticized party stalwarts will never ascend to party leadership under the current system of choosing party leaders.

I am not implying that the names mentioned are not qualified to be the leader of the PNC and maybe the President of Guyana, but I am not certain that I have heard a description of what they stand for. How do they plan to develop Guyana? Is it that their physical outlook and youthful posture are the only attributes for leadership. Why is it that so much emphasis is placed on the candidates age. Does being young and inexperienced qualifies one for leadership? What about valid ideas that will be the deciding factor to spur economic growth.

History is replete with errors of political leaders, many of whom have taken their country down the path of large negative growth and a continuous subsistence living tied to meager wage earning jobs and increased deficit spending. Do the supporters of the PNC/R know how these candidates hope to solve the crisis of qualified high school-ers and university graduates not being able to find jobs? How do they plan to grow the economy and stem the tide of continuous migration? What plans or propensity do they have to entice qualified Guyanese abroad to return home, instead of calling on the more expensive expertise of foreign nationals?. How do they feel about the destruction of Guyana's natural environment?

In the end it is not the opinion of this writer that is absolute, but the voters of Guyana's elections, and as a son of the soil I am concerned about how our leaders are chosen without their views and vague plans being scrutinized and put to the test before elections.

Rhetorically, what really are their qualifications for leadership?
Patrick Barker