The Opposition need not oppose for opposing sake; it can acknowledge when an initiative is good and still remain committed to its own objectives.

This is the comment proffered by Attorney General (AG) and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall in response to scathing criticisms from the main Parliamentary Opposition that President Dr Irfaan Ali’s “1000 Men” Initiative rings hollow.

President Ali, at the launch of the initiative some weeks ago, said the programme aims to devise strategies to address challenges faced by the male population. The initiative also aims to address social ills including alcoholism, drug abuse, domestic violence and joblessness. Men, who are part of the initiative, liaise with male role models drawn from various organisations in society, many of whom, may hold the answer to the prevailing challenges men face.

But the initiative has been branded “hollow” by the Leader of the A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance for Change (APNU+AFC), Aubrey Norton, who is adamant that the programme merely scratches the surface of what is required. Norton’s criticisms follow on the heels of critiques his colleague and fellow Opposition Member of Parliament, Catherine Hughes doled out last week, when she said that the regime has a “torrid” history of abusing women.

Nandlall, however, took umbrage to the “diatribe” that seeks to “demonise” the men in government. He said that the Opposition is incapable of recognising good.

“The Opposition is incapable of joining hands with the government – or any progressive entity in this country – on any matter of a beneficial nature. The Opposition is incapable of the magnanimity of an initiative. They are incapable of recognising when an idea is good and [they are incapable of] putting personal, political and insular differences aside and embracing a good initiative,” Nandlall said during his recent “Issues in the News” programme.

He recognised that the success of any government initiative hinges greatly on the Opposition’s response, but was keen to note that the Opposition, itself, must be able to give credit where and when it is due. Nandlall noted that true leaders must be able to rise above political partisanship and embrace initiatives that seek to reverse the effects of societal ills that affect all sections of society.

“One does not always have to criticise one’s opponent; one can recognise the good in one’s opponent…You commend it and join hands with it, but you can still remain focused on your initiative. No one is asking you to capitulate; no one is asking you to abandon your call or your focus or political role; all we’re saying is when there is a good initiative, there’s nothing wrong with embracing that initiative,” he said.


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