After gaining his well-deserved place as President of Guyana for five months, Dr. Irfaan Ali stepped in on August 2 as the 9th President of Guyana. Those of us who supported his candidacy are not surprised to watch him excel as President of Guyana, quickly gaining the title of President of the People. Many who did not support him are surprised at best.
President Irfaan Ali has shown that he is “big” enough for the position of President of Guyana. He has shown a remarkable ability to lead our country at this difficult point of our history. While COVID-19 is wreaking havoc in our country, just as it has subdued even the richest nations on earth, our economy is being transformed with OIL as another pillar of a diverse economy. As our country embarks on a journey as the fastest growing economy in the world in 2021 – with projected GDP growth of more than 50%, and with the traditional economy bouncing back – President Ali has shown himself to be a genuine leader.
Under most circumstances, the President of the People, President Irfaan Ali, would be the favorite candidate for Person of the Year, 2020. It would be a popular choice if President Ali was considered Guyana’s 2020 Person of the Year; but, in practice, this column selects Bharrat Jagdeo (BJ) as Guyana 2020 Person of the Year. President Ali’s chances of becoming President of Guyana at this time were genesis in BJ’s great leadership. No one did more to defeat David Granger’s APNU + AFC (PNC) and to get the PPP back so quickly to Government.
He steered brilliantly the return of the PPP. In the process, the PPP led to the selection of a candidate who clearly fulfilled the task, and introduced a new age of young leaders in the party and Cabinet. Under the circumstances, some might argue that BJ and Irfaan Ali should be JOINT WINNERS, but I am nominating BJ as Guyana’s 2020 Person of the Year.
This past Monday was exactly two years since the No Confidence Motion set up a confusing journey that led to the March 2020 elections. The March 2020 elections were held exactly one year after the NCM-mandated deadline for the elections. No one should downplay the patriotic, bold decision of Charrandas Persaud made on December 21st, 2018; it deserves a special place in our history, but it did not begin or end with 21st December, the path responsible for returning the PPP to Government and restoring democracy, defeating those who sought dictatorship in Guyana. NCM 2018. It started long before that, it started when the PPP BJ became Secretary General.
In 2016, at a time when the PPP was in turmoil, in opposition for the first time in more than 23 years, delegates in the PPP Congress gave BJ the highest number of votes as they elected the 35-man Central Committee, the governor. the PPP body. In the first week of January 2017, some 18 months after the PPP lost government, BJ became the PPP’s Secretary General in a landslide vote, winning by more than two-thirds of the votes cast. In January 2017, the PPP elected the Leader of the Opposition as Secretary General, and so he coordinated and held the Government to account in Parliament and among the people. In accepting the post of Secretary General, BJ announced that the party, in Parliament and among the people, would focus its work and advocacy on what was in the country’s interests, and strengthen the party’s support beyond to its traditional foundation.
That day when the PPP BJ became the new Secretary General was the beginning of the end of the new Government. The new age PNC-Government, using APNU + AFC disguise, hoped that with a new OIL and GAS economy, with its plan to rig elections as it did between 1968 and 1992, it would be in government for a long time, by hook or by telephone. But in January 2017, his ambition was denied because BJ embarked on a journey, taking a path that brought the PPP back into government, long before his most ardent supporters thought possible.
At the end of 2019, as Granger tried to use the courts and the lack of a GECOM Chairman to stall the elections, BJ checked him to choose Claudette Singh as GECOM Chairman. Many criticized Jagdeo and said he had been deceived by Granger. But at a time when many believed that elections would not be held even in 2020, because the GECOM Chairman was not under Jagdeo pressure, Granger announced the March 2020 elections.
During that time, Jagdeo rushed many anti-PPP forces and individuals to join the PPP’s battle to defeat Granger and his PNC factions. When all sorts of wild suggestions were being made, Jagdeo quietly and confidently created an international coalition that put a stop to the thieves of the 2020 elections.
While Irfaan Ali is doing a great job himself, BJ, like GS, is today making sure the Government keeps to its promises. As the GS of the party that won the elections, he strongly insists on manifesto promises. BJ is, without a doubt, the most popular Guyanese and Caribbean politician. He is Guyana’s Person of the Year.