I thank the outgoing Canadian High Commissioner, Her Excellency, Ms. Lilian Chatterjee, for her keen observation that Guyana does not have the kind of workforce to carry this country forward with its oil (SN December 5). Since, the departing diplomat is a guest in this homeland, she is entitled to every courtesy that is inseparable from the hospitality that I know and embrace. Thus, I curtail any strong or sharp words, and settle for enhancing what the Honourable One articulated, by going where she didn’t want to go (unlike during the elections) and where even locals may fear to tread.
In my own words, I agree that Guyana severely lacks the skills and talents, the aptitudes and attitudes, and so much more. I elaborate and specify. To the largest extent possible, the Guyanese worker lacks the requite work ethic; the Guyanese manager is devoid of a fundamental inclination to be about what is problem solving, people facing, outcome delivering. And both the Guyanese junior worker and senior manager are bereft of the versatility, resourcefulness, and trustworthiness to rise to the many challenges embedded in our oil findings and oil prospects. They are too settled in old ways and resistant to change.
After all, things have always been done this way: ‘just now’ and ‘come back again’ and ‘maybe later.’
But worst of all is the reality that our political leaders are a gang of not merely four, but of 144 (possibly thousand) of the finest scoundrels to be found anywhere near where oil money cascades or promises to flow. They have already fixed the game to suit themselves, and that is even before the first drop of oil was produced, the first barrel filled, the first tanker sailed. For sure, we do not have the workforce, but that is an understatement of a narrow and limited aspect of the problem. We do have some astute people of rare acumen but they are too few, too partisan (for or against), too disengaged, other than for the money.
The bigger concern is that Guyana does not house the calibre of people, who possess prowess in principles. People who hold high what is honourable. People who are enmeshed in the ethical. We can have all the skills and technical strengths needed in the oil world, but if we have no character and truth, then we might as well not have oil for all the good that it would do for us.
Editor, in support of my fierce contentions, I tender exhibits 1 to 3, which would be those poster children for what went wrong in the world of fabled oil wealth: Nigeria, Angola, and Venezuela. We need leaders who can be trusted to drive the oil bus with the welfare, present and future, of citizens foremost in mind. They are of the scarcest variety; I believe that we may have none, absolutely none. We do not need leaders in the forefront of oil corruptions, where personal collections rank highest. To my never-ending shame and sorrow, this latter category, we have by the oil tanker full, and by the fleet. Look at them and listen to them: in these early days of oil, one political leader after another (and their surrounding casts of lesser and greater evils) can’t even talk to oil truths, since they have tied themselves up into knots with their blatant rogueries. Their leadership and stewardship secrets render them into dumb beasts, where oil is concerned.
They speak of no laws broken and criminality is confirmed. They paw the air and run away from speaking, like those bandits that run away from capture. Flight is guilt. If there is nothing to hide, then why the many stutterers? I do not equivocate on this: we do not have the political workforce. No ma’am (or Sir!).
Editor, this is the local content that Guyana has from top to bottom, only the goodly High Commissioner was too circumspect (as diplomats should always be) in the manner of a polite houseguests observing the tenets of long-established protocols.
The bottom line is this, and can say it without fear of contradiction: we do not have what it takes. Not leaders. Not workers. Not partners. Not joint venturers. Not helpers of any caliber. What we do have in prodigious abundance is a white-collar criminal workforce that is up to the challenge of any explosive oil growth. And that we do not need. We can start from any house of the state and work our way, all the way to the outhouse, and it is the same story: the wrong kind of radioactive workforce.