In a recent advertisement, shown above, the National Independent Party (“NIP”), led by Mr. Saphier Husain-Subedar, until recently known as Mr. Saphier Husain, announced its intention to contest the upcoming elections. Mr. Husain-Subedar, a lawyer, was recently admitted to practice in Canada, which was the subject of a congratulatory advertisement in the press
The NIP has been in existence for many years. It contested the 1997 elections placing last but one with 258 votes amounting to 0.1%, ‘nipped’ by the God Bless Guyana party. Choosing a Tiger for its election symbol, NIP has thereby declared its intention this time around to roar forward into the electoral jungle, unlike the last ROAR (Rise, Organise And Rally party led by Ravi Dev), which slinked away after being thrashed into oblivion. Not so NIP, which has kept its powder dry and has survived to fight another day.
NIP’s profile has recently been refurbished, enhanced and given prominence by the activities of its founder leader, Mr. Saphier Husain-Subedar. The nation groaned when the authorities announced that birth certificates issued no later than six months prior to an application for a passport must be submitted with the application. No one objected to the production of the birth certificate, which was a requirement anyway. But there was widespread consternation at the six-month requirement.
Mr. Husain-Subedar, took the matter to court and won, much to the relief and delight of the electorate and to the shame of the legal profession which merely stood by, grumbled and waited for somebody else to do something. I plead guilty. The Minister of Home Affairs and his Government were duly chastened. It is not often, if ever, that anyone can get the better of Mr. Clement Rohee, or have the last word.
The NIP has no publicly known economic or political philosophy. It has done very well to stay away from such mundane issues. The party concentrates on other matters that are of a more direct relevance and higher importance to the electorate. The wide range of matters that engage NIP is frequently reported in the press. For, example, NIP tried, unsuccessfully this time, to get the Court to order the Minister of Local Government to fix a date for local government elections.
NIP is also of the view that the President legally must name a date for general elections this month. It is not yet known if this time frame will be adhered to. At the time of writing the President was in India receiving an award. He could be detained if at his press conference in India he has to deal with any hecklers. If this happens he would have invite Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo to skip over from Sri Lanka, where he observed the elections, to render some physical assistance. The announcement would be delayed and the Constitution violated, according to Mr. Husain-Subedar. It is not known if legal proceedings will be filed, but on past experience it is likely.
Guyanese are jaded by the political gridlock and constant bickering that takes the place of political debate. At one time it was thought that a third party would help to break the grip of the two old parties. But this has not happened. It is believed that the electorate is now looking to alternative solutions. The NIP is in a unique position. Its Leader, Mr. Saphier Husain-Subedar, has always stood alone, is ‘independent’ like his party, has never belonged to any of the old parties, and has never been contaminated with the old ideologies and dogmas or new political fads like constitutional reform.
The NIP’s reliance on the law, in particular constitutional law, as the vehicle by which justice and human rights will be delivered to Guyana, will resonate with the Guyanese public. Also, NIP’s empathy with the electorate will not escape notice. In a public advertisement on the prorogation, close to the Christmas season, printed below, Mr. Husain-Subedar called on the Guyanese people to “remain calm and collective” and to “avoid confrontation and be restraint.” With that deceptively gentle touch, the Tiger is poised.