Vice President and Minister of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs Sydney Allicock yesterday cast away all doubts from the minds of Indigenous leaders from the North Rupununi after the National Toshao’s Council NTC continued on a mischievous path to cause disharmony among the indigenous peoples.
The NTC attended the opening of the statutory board meeting of the North Rupununi District Development Board NRDDB on Wednesday at Bina Hill Institute where members and partners of the Board were misled regarding the Presidential Commission of Inquiry established to address Lands inherited by the indigenous peoples.
Board members and other partners were told by three members of the NTC that Government has plans to utilizing funding allocated for the Amerindian land Titling ALT Project which is being executed by the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs and the UNDP to fund the COI.
Addressing leaders a day later, Minister Allicock said he felt disrespected by at least five members of the NTC who are acting in isolation and have been misleading residents of indigenous villages and communities before fully comprehending the TOR’s set out in the COI.
Minister Allicock unequivocally stated that funds allocated for the ALT Project will be expended on that project thus dispelling claims by the NTC few who continue to mislead their own people.
“The COI was set up to investigate issues Indigenous African, Indian, Portuguese whoever has land we have the ALT that has its funding and we are going ahead. We had that discussion we had the NTC Chair, Deputy Chair, APA everybody there when we had our meeting when we decided on how we are moving forward with the next two years. We all agreed that we keep the stories separate, now the very persons who were there put out the statement and what the PPP was saying is the same thing the NTC was saying. How could we move forward if we all begin to attack instead of finding solutions. This is a serious issue, it’s a national issue” the Minister said.
Minister Allicock addressing the NRDDB Meeting in Annai, North Rupununi, Region 9.
The Senior Statesman reminded of the PPP’s campaign promise of discrediting the Government on all fronts a position he said will be detrimental to this nation. He said despite the negative forces the David granger led coalition Government will continue to promote Unity amongst Guyanese following the disunity created during the 2015 campaign by the then Government.
Minister Allicock said instead of coming on board and assisting the Commission to formulate a plan of action the body has chosen to venture into murky waters.
However, Toshao’s attending the statutory meeting say they are baffled by actions taken by the NTC which is all based on “alternative facts”.
Chair of the NRDDB Anthony Andries said he is convinced that the NTC Executive is blatantly refusing to deal with the facts or they are using this as a political strategy.
“For me is either of the two because if they didn’t tell us well this is their stand and this is the other part of the story but they didn’t do that. I also think that they have withheld key information from us they didn’t share the ALT part”, Andries said.
Aranaputa is a CDC in welcoming the establishment of the COI its Chair said this is long overdue and as such spoke passionately about the situation noting that “we as Toshao’s and we as the NRDDB is time that we all stand firm in our support to whoever is in government. I’m calling on the NRDDB to prepare a letter and send it to the Minister of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs and to the President letting them know that we as Toshao’s in the North Rupununi are pleased with the setting up of the COI and that we are ready to work”.
A young Indigenous leader Jessica George encouraged colleagues to “let us make wise decisions so that we as leaders in our communities can make a difference”.
Russian Doric who is the youth representative in the NTC and the Toshao of Yupukari and its three satellites lamented the fact that the NTC should be the body to change the trajectory of the lives of the indigenous peoples providing unequivocal guidance and ensuring an ambience of unity and togetherness prevail.’
He said he is however bowled over by the executive’s relentless efforts to disparage the intended results of the COI saying “it really hurts me when I saw that they are trying to cause a problem because this looks to me like a one man show and it’s really confusing and you know the indigenous peoples if you throw negative thoughts they will be confused. The NTC has a negative tooth about it one which I’m not pleased about. I am not sure why they are distributing negative thoughts about it”.
Toka Village Leader Delano Davis said he believes the NTC has transcended to a place of no return as it continues to push its political agenda “we in Toka do not support or will not be swayed by any political agenda we stand behind the COI we have read it we have studied it, it was mentioned at the last NTC and I think the members of the NTC should have investigated that and should have think about that since then but now the COI is in place I want the Minister to be assured that we stand behind that and we fully support you”.
Annai Village Council Toshao Mark George who also has responsibility for four other villages in Wowetta, Rupertee, Kwatamang and Suruma said “we are in agreement because we need to have our land protected we don’t want nobody coming in and interfering so we are in full support and we would also like the Ministry to share more information with us as it happen”.
Only recently a statement published in the media from the NTC threatened political ramifications come 2020 where the seventy thousand indigenous peoples will speak the loudest should Government fail to withdraw the COI.
However, with leaders in the North Rupununi pledging unwavering support behind the COI, this would now mean that the NTC has already begin to lose support it thought it had.