Reference news story (Oct 9 Guyana papers), the PNC Member of Parliament for Region 10, Jermaine Figueria, acted maturely, professionally, smartly and should be applauded and emulated for meeting, shaking hand with, and welcoming President Irfaan Ali to Linden. The President came bearing gifts. He should not be rebuffed by Linden or any opposition politician. That is not smart politics. Linden needs resources. Figueria wants resources for his constituency. He can only get resources if he meets the President, makes a case, and lobbies for it. Politicians have to canvass for and champion the needs of their communities. The old politics of total opposition to your opponent no longer works. Opposition politicians must engage the government as in America.
In the US, whenever the President visits a city or state or territory, politicians from the ruling and opposing party usually show up to welcome the President. Sometimes the President travels with elected representatives of both parties. He wants to come across as non-partisan and be seen with politicians of competing parties in order to bolster his ratings. That is sensibly politics. The President may bring handouts to benefit the community – what is called pork barrel politics in America. The politicians of competing parties want to be on hand to claim credit for the handouts. Politicians in Guyana should emulate that American tradition of embracing their President.
Ali is President of all of Guyana, those who supported PPP, PNC (APNU), ANUG, LJP, and other parties. He makes policies for all of Guyana. He decides on investments and development in an area. It would be unwise to reject the President and alienate Linden from the President’s plan for the area and any development goodies he brought. Figueria’s action is in sharp contrast with PNC and opposition leader Aubrey Norton who refused to shake hands with Ali in several face to face encounters. Norton is on record as saying he will not shake hands with his oppressor. Ali is no oppressor of Guyanese. The country is a democracy.
In order for the country to make progress, politicians of opposing parties must work together in the best interests of community development regardless of which party controls the reins of government.