Backbenchers do their work quietly behind the scenes
Parliamentary opposition can contribute to effective governance - Kadir
Stabroek News
June 16, 2004

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Abdul Kadir believes the government needs to develop the political maturity that would allow it to see the role of opposition parliamentarians as complementary and meaningful to the establishment of a more refined approach to governance.

Kadir, 53, has been a parliamentary representative for Region Ten (Upper Demerara/Upper Berbice) since the 2001 elections and has found the experience well below what he expected it would be. He says the debates in parliament do not yield the expected results as positions hardly change as a result of them. Additionally, parliamentarians need to be empowered to allow them to function effectively and it is a burning issue that needs to be addressed with a greater degree of urgency.

He notes that in the United Kingdom every parliamentarian is provided with an office, a budget to run it and a research assistant. This arrangement, he says, facilitates data gathering so that the positions the parliamentarians adopt are technically informed and debates in House are enhanced by such empowerment. Moreover, in such an environment parliamentarians are directly responsible to their constituents.

What is required here he says, in the absence of the necessary resources is maturity by the government which would allow it to see the opposition as partners in governance.

Kadir, a University of Guyana and University of the West Indies trained civil engineer, believes Parliament should be a full-time occupation, remunerated on a level to enable parliamentarians to live without having to seek alternative support. As such, he says the present level of remuneration even with the allowances now being paid to regional parliamentarians and those who are members of committees is inadequate.

Kadir hails from Buxton, East Coast Demerara and was a member of the PNC's Young Socialist Movement, during the time of Eustace Hall and Jeffrey Thomas. He was also a member of Eusi Kwayana's ASCRIA movement. About Kwayana, Kadir said: "He influenced me in the direction of developing a certain scholarship to understand the socialist principles and to go beyond situations as they appear on the surface."

This led him during those years to literature and writings that have had tremendous influence on him. Some of the writers include Walter Rodney, Kwame Nkrumah, Eldridge Cleaver and Malcolm X. And some of the books he read include How Europe Underdeveloped Africa, Neo-Colonialism the last stage of Imperialism, A Textbook on Revolutionary Warfare and Letters of the Soledad Brother.

Kadir attended St Stanislaus College, then the University of Guyana from where he graduated in 1975 with the Higher Technical Diploma in Civil Engineering while working the nightshift at the then Guyana Water Authority. He then went on to the University of the West Indies (UWI) where he earned a BSc in Civil Engineering, graduating in 1981.

Before going to UWI, Kadir spent a year in Venezuela between 1977 and 1978, where he had hoped to continue his studies. When those plans fell through, he returned to Guyana and taught for a brief period at the Charlestown Government Secondary School.

In Trinidad, during his vacation Kadir worked with Dr Emru Millet, a consulting engineer.

On his return from UWI, Kadir joined the Guyana Bauxite Company, later Linmine, and remained there until the retrenchment exercise in July last year that followed the award of the management contract to Cambior, the parent company of Omai Gold Mines Ltd.

Kadir, who converted to Islam in 1974, said that while in Trinidad he had been a member of the Islamic Party of the Caribbean. When he returned home, his main focus was to foster the teaching of Islam in the hope of bringing about social reform through that.

In 1994, he stood for and was elected Mayor of Linden and held the office for two years before resigning for strategic reasons in the interest of the party. He said he remained politically involved and was the PNC's campaign manager in the region for the 1997 elections. In 2001, he stood for election as a regional candidate for Region Ten.

Kadir is married and the father of nine children the eldest of whom is 34 and the youngest 17. Two of his children, Sheikh Salim Bin Abdul Kadir and Sauda Bint Abdul Kadir, are Moslem scholars, graduates of the religious centre of Kum, Iran. Three others are married. Three more are at UG studying Sociology, Chemistry and Biology and Computer Science. They are all, he said, inclined to political involvement and consciousness.