Ferguson promises Police land, housing in purported secret meeting
The day before members of the Disciplined Services voted at the general and regional elections, Minister within the Ministry of Communities Annette Ferguson held what is purposed to be a secret meeting with members of the Guyana Police Force where she promised them lands and housing if they voted the APNU+AFC Coalition Government back into office.
The meeting was held on February 20, 2020, at the Police Officers Mess in Eve Leary, Georgetown. A recording of the meeting, which was released by the Opposition People’s Progressive Party, revealed a female Police Officer instructing the Police Officers present to turn off all cellphones, lock the door and not to let anyone else into the meeting.
“No cellphones allowed, please turn off your cellphones. All of them quickly. Quickly man,” the female rank can be heard saying.
After introducing herself, Ferguson said she wanted to apprise the officers of the developments and plans of the housing sector which falls under her duties and responsibilities as a junior minister.
“We ain’t doing wonders officers? I know some ah ya’ll frighten to speak,” Ferguson said.
She told the ranks that when the APNU+AFC Government took office in 2015, there were 50,000 house lot applications on file and that number has since increased.
According to the recording, Ferguson said she received a tabulation of how many ranks applied for house lots and she will “see how best” she can allocate them lands.
“What I will commit to do is that I will look at the information and with all fairness to those who would have applied between 2010 going way up into the 90s, I will try to see based on the numbers we have, to see how best I can allocate…
“And I can’t tell yuh I will allocate yuh tomorrow because I know tomorrow[February 21] is a special day when y’all gon mek I smile, right? So this gon be the deal.
“This is what is going to happen going forward…Lands and Surveys, Commissioner [Trevor] Benn has already signalled to me that look ‘we will be opening up some lands on the East Bank of Demerara’, I think round Great Diamond area, right?
“That’s one. Two, is that we will – Central Housing and Planning Authority – and once I remain the Minister, I will be pushing to ensure that the Joint Services – not only the soldiers but the Police, the Firemen and the Prisoners [Prison Officers] are catered for,” Ferguson said.
She added, “We will allocate probably acres of land to the Joint Services so that you people, the Police and the Defence Force, so that they can take off some of the load that we are grappling with at the moment. Fair enough?”
In response, some ranks said ‘No’ to which Ferguson replied: “Why are you saying no? I might sound a lil rude, I think the first batch was disciplined and they understand. I got no nos.
“I am going to say it again, I cannot give what I don’t have.”
The junior Government Minister sought to convince the Police Officers that the housing sector will expand if the coalition is voted back into office.
“The prospects for the housing sector will be great when we return to Government but the only way you will be able to benefit whether your application is in 2010…or 2011 or 2012, is that you have to ensure that we return to Government.
“So tomorrow, I know that many of you got a date, that is a special date…right. So either we go forward or backward and all I want say to y’all, don’t’ stop the progress.”
She urged the Police Officers not to lose hope as she promised better working conditions and salaries under a Coalition Government.
“We can’t stop the progress, tomorrow you go there and make your mark well for us.”
During the question and answer segment of the meeting, Ferguson again encouraged the ranks to vote for the APNU+AFC Coalition.
“Please do the right thing tomorrow…so go out there, don’t get too impatient, just do your thing right and make a sexy X upstairs and downstairs right… for whichever party of your choice, but I am here representing the Government so you gah vote for the Government,” Ferguson said as she ended the meeting.
The PPP, in a statement on the issue, said it wanted to bring the matter to the attention of Chairperson of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), Justice (Ret’d) Claudette Singh, local and international observers.
The Opposition party is of the view that Ferguson’s address to the ranks represents an inducement which they believe to be a “serious violation of our electoral laws, the GECOM elections code of conduct, an abuse of power by the Minister and also a form of intimidation.”