October 1, 2016

“Voting Like A Boss”

The Guyana National Youth Council (GNYC) and its new partner, Youth Challenge Guyana (YCG), on February 26, 2016, launched a second “Vote Like A Boss” campaign with the aim of encouraging thousands of Guyanese youth to be part of the country’s democratic evolution by participating in the long-overdue Local Government Elections which are slated for this Friday.

The campaign, which appeared promising and legitimate on the surface, was introduced to the public a mere 19 days before Guyanese in general and youths in particular are scheduled to go to the polls to be part of what are been deemed as “historic” LGE.

At the launch of the initiative, the GNYC said that this year’s campaign would be premised on the theme “excite, engage, educate and inspire” because of the overwhelming need for more to be done by youths themselves to get involved in the taxing voter education campaign.

The event was endorsed by the US Embassy and its Chargé d’Affairs, Bryan Hunt; Gerry Gouveia, who is said to have represented Guyana’s Private Sector and Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission, Dr Steve Surujbally.

Since the launch of this campaign in February, the GNYC and YCG have not engaged the media or public directly to report on their ongoing activities and the response to the thrust of their spate of LGE initiatives.

From a look at the some of the work done by the GNYC under the VLAB campaign, one gets the impression that it was never the aim of the project to disseminate voter education information about LGE in an independent, unbiased and credible way.

The social media tactics employed by the group have been unimpressive and unimaginative to say the least and have not led to any noticeable spike in the behavioural pattern of the Guyanese populace as far as LGE are concerned.

If this is the case, the group has failed miserably in publishing this data with a view of winning the support and confidence of those in certain civil society and political circles that have long been suspicious of the entire campaign and its real motives.

Therefore, it is not surprising that the main Opposition People’s Progressive Party took a clear swipe at the initiative with the aim of exposing what it said was the “anti-PPP agenda of its messages” while deeming the core of the recently pursued LGE undertakings as “pro-APNU/AFC”.

There is also much reasoning in the Party’s suspicions of the group behind the campaign and its financers because of the little that is known about the selection of its facilitators, the methodology used to disseminate information and embark on public encounters, the scope and depth of the voter education information shared at closed doors sessions and the intricacies of the funding of various pillars of its apparently comprehensive programme.

Both the work GNYC has done as an organisation and the Vote Like A Boss campaign as a project appear to be questionable in nature given the whole history of foreign interference in Guyana, especially at critical junctures that could see a simple vote cast redefining the political landscape of the country and tilting the balance of power in favour of one party against another.

The PPP’s assumptions and convictions about the VLAB project could hold merit if a closer analysis is done by independents of the work, financiers and interests behind the GNYC.

Also, the organisation is doing itself a massive disservice by remaining silent and failing to publicise the outcomes and results it has achieved during and after its multimillion-dollar investments in educating Guyanese ahead of the historic LGE on Friday, as we feel that Guyanese (unfortunately) are not any better off than they were before the campaign was launched back in February this year.

Guyanese may very well need to ask themselves whether they have benefited directly or indirectly from the VLAB campaign and if indeed, they feel like a “boss” before, during and after the process on Friday.

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