(Originally published in the Kaieteur News on 13 Nov 2005)
I know I said I would let go of this issue concerning the parliamentary seats from other parties now being held by AFC members, but there is something that keeps pushing me to go on.
I have attempted different approaches to make my point to no avail, so this time I thought I would try to reason with Raphael Trotman. I will openly admit that I have a lot of respect for Mr. Trotman – even after he has decided to stick with his party’s decision to retain seats they are no longer entitled to hold.
On October 23, I wrote a column entitled, “It Is Never Easy to do the Right Thing,” in which I encouraged the three leaders of the AFC to do the "right thing" and resign their seats. Many times a columnist hopes his/her column will be the catalyst for change. I honestly thought the "Gang of Three,” as Freddie calls them, would see reason and make the big announcement soon thereafter.
Alas, here we are almost three weeks later - and numerous columns, letters to the Editor and newspaper editorials later - and they still have not chosen to do what so many feel is the "right thing."
Therefore, in this column, I have decided to appeal to an individual I believe may one day be the President of Guyana. Who knows, it could even be in the next elections. Guyana needs someone who will unite this beautiful country as one. Guyana needs an individual who will transcend the race issue, the class issue and the polarised political party issue. Mr. Trotman could very well be that individual.
With the issue at hand, Mr. Trotman has an early opportunity to do what is right even if it goes against the grain of his party’s stance. The leader of the AFC, Mr. Ramjattan, has made it clear that he plans on keeping his seat. Mr. Trotman, on the other hand, has made several statements to the contrary and I am hoping that he has the wherewithal to be a man of his word.
In a Stabroek News article published on June 2nd entitled, "Trotman resigns from parliamentary bodies,” Mr. Trotman is quoted as saying if the PNCR asked for his resignation, he would, in fairness to them, tender it. Well, Mr. Corbin has asked for his resignation and we now await Mr. Trotman’s response with the hope that his word can be trusted.
When asked to comment on Corbin's request for a Stabroek News article on October 21, Trotman said his resignation would be addressed at the launching of the Alliance For Change (AFC) on October 29. Many people, including this columnist, interpreted this to signify that the AFC would make a big splash at their launch by resigning. However the launch came and went with only further resistance to this issue.
I have now stated the facts on this point, as well as the statements made by Trotman, and I now want to talk from my heart for the rest of this column. Guyana needs leaders who are a head above the rest in regards to trustworthiness, decisiveness and responsiveness. I believe there are very few of these types of leaders in Guyana – however, I also believe Raphael Trotman is one of them.
I believe that Trotman has a good heart. That is to say, he doesn’t seek his own agenda above the best interests of the people. I also think he has an easy-going type of personality, which is an important feature for anyone who seeks to govern since such a position can be very stressful.
However, I also think this easy-going personality can be influenced without great difficulty. I believe this is why Trotman did a complete turn about. This is where I start getting concerned over Trotman’s ability to lead, since I also think this is what happened to Jagdeo.
Truth be known, I like Jagdeo as a leader. I think his disposition is much like Trotman’s in that he shares the same good qualities that appeal to the people. However, he seems too willing to cater to party politics. I think this is more out of obligation or to keep the peace than because he considers it is the best course of action.
The result is that a good man – and a good leader – has become a puppet of backroom politicians. This is a scary situation for Guyana because we can never really know who is making the decisions that affect the country on a daily basis.
Although he embodies many very positive characteristics of a good leader, Jagdeo simply doesn’t strike me as the type of person who will fight tooth and nail for the people against the agenda of the PPP, but this is what Guyana needs.
The question of the hour is whether Trotman is just another Jagdeo that can be easily swayed away from the people for the sake of the party. It certainly does appear to be that way at this point since he no longer cares about being fair to the PNC or doing what the people want over what his party expects.
My hope is that Trotman finds the courage to be his own man and to listen to his own heart. We do not need one more leader who loses his/her good qualities and intentions to party politics. What we need are good men and women who can do the right thing despite party pressure to do the opposite.
It is in these moments when the future of Guyana is decided, because if a leader’s conscience can be swayed on the smaller issues – then over time that same leader will be swayed to do the party’s beckoning on bigger issues – and before long the people are once again forgotten so that more politicians can buy big houses and fancy cars.
Raphael, for the sake of Guyana, I hope you find the strength to be the leader this country deserves.