By: Mohabir Anil Nandlall
I wish to respond to a statement issued by the Office of the Prime Minister, bearing the caption: “OPM refutes Nandlall’s lies – calls on sugar workers not to fall prey to attempts to incite.”
This statement is in response to last week’s ‘The Unruly Horse’. The thrust of the statement was to paint my article as a litany of lies. It is the classic artwork of the Prime Minister. I am familiar with his craft, having known him for several years. The truth is my article comprised of a compendium of undisputed publicly ventilated matters relating to the sugar industry. Indeed, I can produce, for public objective verification, a source for every argumentation adumbrated in that article.
Our Prime Minister has long earned the reputation of being the most narcissistic, perfidious and political chameleon in contemporary Guyanese politics. One can easily cite his imagined promise of Dr. Cheddi Jagan anointing him his successor, made somewhere in the distant valleys of the Kanuku Mountains, in the deep recesses of the Rupununi and without the earshot and eyesight of another human. I recall his heroic tale of being dragged along Vlissengen Road, cradled between two horses ridden by Burnham’s henchmen, told to a captive but innocent and uninformed Berbice television audience, while being interviewed by the articulate Dr. Ramaya. How can one forget his stirring speech at Whim in 2011, where this frugal son poured his heart out to his fellow villagers and the rest of the nation, serenading them, with utmost sincerity, that he was the only Minister in the PPP Government who never accepted an increase in salary; never traveled first-class and never stayed at any international hotels when he traveled abroad.
Today, those very villagers and the nation are astounded by the astronomical salary increase which he negotiated for himself, retroactively, after being in Government for only a few weeks. They are similarly flabbergasted when he drives around in a sirened motorcade navigated by outriders, while comfortably ensconced in a $124,000 USD custom-made Toyota Land Cruizer. They are aghast that he lives in the State Residence, which costs them and their fellow taxpayers, over $40M GYD to decorate and furnish and they are mesmerized when he jets around the globe in first-class cabins to attend social cocktail-like events. The magnitude of this epicurean and luxuriant transformation is cinematic material for Bollywood.
Mr. Nagamootoo’s incomparable guile can be gleamed from the treatment meted out to journalists, whom he loves to embrace as his ‘colleagues’. One Chronicle reporter was, openly, upbraided in the corridors of the Parliament Buildings for publishing a headline that Mr. Nagamootoo’s presence, as acting President in the National Assembly, caused some furor. Immediately, this champion of press freedom, issued an executive edict that Chronicle’s headlines must be cleared by him before publication. In the same vein, distinguished Guyanese journalist of regional renown, Mr. Rickey Singh’s services was abruptly terminated at the Chronicle for factually scribing in one of his articles, that Mr. Nagamootoo “enjoys” the most miniaturized portfolio of a Prime Minister in the English speaking Caribbean over the last 50 years!
In the same manner that our dear Prime Minister brazenly denies that he ever promised rice farmers $9,000 GYD per bag for paddy, during the 2015 election’s campaign, he now glibly refutes that he every promised sugar workers 25% increase in wages. These are facts of public notoriety. He asks for proof. Well, I heard him say that on several political platforms and on television. Moreover, the rice farmers and sugar workers themselves have repeatedly confirmed that these were his promises to them. They number in the tens of thousands. So, if proof is really needed, there is an abundance of it.
The Prime Minister next contends that my article was, as a result of, “his devastating exposure of the Bharrat Jagdeo regime for bankrupting the sugar industry during the June 15th sitting of the National Assembly.” This is a classic exhibition of the narcissism to which I earlier made reference. Mr. Nagamootoo’s quixotic self-obsession is simply unparalleled. My article was written on Wednesday the 14th of June and emailed for publication to the Mirror Newspaper and a newspaper in New York the following morning. Both of these newspapers are printed Thursday evenings for weekend circulation. Therefore, when the Prime Minister was “devastating” us in the Parliament late Thursday night, my article was already published in two continents. So Mr. Prime Minister, my article has no nexus to your self-proclaimed “devastating exposure” in the National Assembly.
Inciting sugar workers
Moreover, I was in the National Assembly on June 15. The Prime Minister only spoke on the Petroleum Commission Bill. This “devastating exposure” on the sugar industry was, apparently, done during this speech. I do not recall anything special about the presentation. As usual, it was an intellectually sterile speech in which the distinguished Prime Minister launched his usual tirade against, and a “buse out” of, the PPP and the Opposition Leader.
The Prime Minister further accuses me of inciting the sugar workers. My article was published by four newspapers in Guyana, one local online news agency and one newspaper in New York. None of the editors of these media houses found it improper. In any event, no one needs to incite the sugar workers against their beloved Prime Minister. It is for this precise reason that I am calling upon him to meet with the sugar workers so that they can shower him with their eternal love, natural affection and deep gratitude. Coincidentally, the Prime Minister should explain the real reason why he dodged attending the Government’s Enmore Martyrs event on June 16, at Enmore. My article was not in circulation at that time. Instead, this self-professed champion of the working class chooses the cold medium of a press statement to communicate, nay plead with the sugar workers, rather than face them in person.
Once again, the Honourable Prime Minister parrots the Coalition propaganda that the Skeldon Estate is a disaster and an institution of doom. Yet, the Coalition is busy trying to sell it off. This Government must be the only seller in the history of commerce that is publicly describing the product which it is selling as a ‘disaster’, a ‘white elephant’ etc. Only an equally insane buyer will purchase.
Jagdeo: the Biblical Moses
It has become crystalline that the morbid obsession with Bharrat Jagdeo is taking its mental toll at the Office of the Prime Minister. Speaking of this same Bharrat Jagdeo to thousands at the Good Hope rally, in the 2006 election’s campaign, our Prime Minister, in relation to the 2005 flood said, “when the great floods came, like the Biblical Moses, President Jagdeo parted the flood waters and made the land dry and wholesome again!” To this very crowd and with a ploy of language, he labeled his current colleague, Khemraj Ramjattan, a ‘neemakaram’. Of course, this was when he was still wagering his chances with Jagdeo, to support him as the next Presidential Candidate of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP).
My article also criticized Ministers Carl Greenidge, Khemraj Ramjattan and Joseph Harmon. The statement from the OPM contained not a word in defence of any of them. The narcissistic personality disorder, locally known as, “Nagamania”, does not permit such gestures. It is all about me, myself and Moses. The Coalition partners have so much to learn.