Investiture ceremony
Save us from ruin
-Jagdeo urges civic groups
Stabroek News
October 6, 2002

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President Jagdeo told awardees and invitees to the annual Investiture Ceremony yesterday that every group in society “must assume its role to slow our gallop away from our traditions and turn us back from the path of ruin.”

Topping the list of 42 awardees this year was Chancellor of Judiciary and Chairman of the Advisory Council for the Orders of Guyana, Desiree Bernard, who received the Order of Roraima.

Jagdeo, speaking in the heavily guarded National Cultural Centre said the mending of the breaches in the Guyanese society “cannot become the responsibility of the Government alone but demands the goodwill of others.”

And he reiterated his “firm belief” that only through dialogue and consultation can the challenges be confronted successfully.

The preservation of the Guyanese society could not be exclusively placed on the shoulders of the men and women in uniform. It “dare not become the absolute occupation of any single or combined agency,” he added and encouraged every citizen to get involved and become a soldier for peace. He urged citizens not to test the strength of institutions lest they collapse under the prolonged strain and he said that all “must cease further attempts to undermine the walls of restraint imposed for the good and safety of all.”

Stating that there can be no matter of greater urgency at the moment than healing the breach, Jagdeo said that upon this generation lay the burden of acting together for society’s preservation. “There is no time more propitious for us to rise up together and forestall malice, and drive back clouds of despair. The energy for action must be our unrivalled love and unquestioned commitment to Guyana,” he said.

Through these experiences, he continued, “we must come to learn the true meaning of our national motto and know that our diversity is not a reason for divisiveness; that legitimate political competition can bring out the best among us not the worst between us; that in spite of our historical places of origin we are now Guyanese.”

Reflecting on the gains made under the PPP/C, he said citizens must consider the distance “yet to be travelled to lift those of our citizens in the valleys of poverty to the hills of prosperity. We must work to overcome our fixation on ‘race’ and instead become obsessed with brotherhood.

We must build a better society, one in which being Guyanese is esteemed and treasured above political persuasion or ethnic description.”

He said the current administration had made significant strides in the improvement of governance.

While robust political competition to determine the best candidates and party must be encouraged, he told his audience that efforts of partisan interests to hold the system and the country hostage must be guarded against.

He noted there was much more that needed to be done to move forward together to give effect to the many initiatives agreed to collectively in the constitutional reform process.

Congratulating the national awardees on behalf of the government and people of Guyana, Jagdeo said they had not craved national awards when they embarked on their vocation, and they had responded to the call to service, occasionally in utter obscurity, and often unnoticed.

Desiree Bernard noted that since the awards were instituted in 1970, when Guyana became a republic, 1,398 awards had been presented.

One award was presented posthumously to Constable Allan Higgins who according to Jagdeo made “the ultimate sacrifice for his country” when he lost his life to maintain law and order.

Noting that distinguished contributions had been made in the fields of law and enterprise; public service and education; humanitarian work and religion; culture and community development; business and trade unionism; national defence and the maintenance of law and order, Jagdeo said that these areas were important and vital for a caring, progressive and orderly society.