…decries President’s “lip service” over follow-up meetingThe Indigenous peoples of Guyana believe the coalition Government has no intention or the capacity to address issues affecting them, which is highly blatant in their unsuccessful efforts to have a follow-up meeting with President David Granger, whom they say is “unwilling” to meet with Indigenous leadership.NTC Vice Chairman Lenox ShumanThis is according to Vice Chairman of the National Toshaos Council (NTC), Lenox Shuman, who in a letter to the media on Wednesday said they can no longer be silent on the “increasing level of disrespect” being meted out to the Indigenous peoples by the Government.“We have been trying since our meeting last year to get a follow-up meeting with President David Granger. Imagine, the collective leadership of all the Indigenous peoples of Guyana cannot get to see the President of Guyana. Instead, we are sent from ministry to ministry to see other members of the Cabinet,” he posited.According to Shuman, the NTC and other Indigenous organisations met with President Granger last year to examine the very contentious Lands Commission of Inquiry (LCoI), which came out of the bilateral agreement between the Kingdom of Norway and the Government of Guyana to address Amerindian Land Titling. At the meeting, the NTC also called on President Granger to sanction Minister with responsibility of labour, Keith Scott, for marginalising the already marginalised Indigenous peoples of Guyana in the highest house in the land, to which the Head of State committed to review the Hansard and will so be guided.“We are still awaiting action on this issue,” he noted.The NTC Chairman went on to note that following consultations amongst the Indigenous communities for the past eight months on the LCoI, the NTC met and submitted recommendations in relation to the LCoI and requested a meeting with the President by mid-March 2018 to which he had committed.“The President has not met with us yet and his office keeps telling us to meet other members of the Cabinet.”Moreover, he mentioned that the plot of land allocated at Sophia to house the NTC’s Secretariat Complex has still not been granted to the NTC some two years later, while at the same time construction has started at a plot parallel to the one originally considered by the NTC.MiningWith regards to mining, Shuman went on to say the NTC was supposed to enter a MoU with the Natural Resources Ministry which appears to be “only a publicity stunt” by the Ministry. He noted that the subject Minister, Raphael Trotman, has not responded to the issue of the MoU.“It is our concern that with the lack of address to these issues and the incoming IT bill, that the Indigenous peoples could be charged with sedition when these issues are brought out in defence of “our rights.” It is also our view that the GoG is awaiting the change in the NTC. This is to avoid dealing with the issues, because even with a change in the NTC, the issues will still remain, and the Indigenous peoples will continue to suffer,” Shuman asserted.The NTC Vice Chair continued that Indigenous leaders expressed fear of further speaking out against “things that are principled wrong” having witnessed what became of the parliamentary Opposition members. They also express fear as they intend on getting into private businesses after they leave office and do not want to be hassled.“The Indigenous peoples of Guyana are unhappy, and the brewing discontent manifested itself in calls by some communities for mass mobilisation in Georgetown. At that meeting, we committed to the Indigenous leaders that it would be premature to just start mobilisation without first meeting with His Excellency and asked that we are permitted to meet with him (His Excellency) first and then be guided by those commitments.”He noted that the President and the Leader of the Opposition, Bharrat Jagdeo are both in receipt of the letter by the NTC committing to mass mobilisation “if our rights are not respected. We are yet to see a commitment by His Excellency to meet the Indigenous leadership – the NTC. I must admit my pessimism of this happening on anything meaningful if not for lip service,” Shuman asserted in the letter to the media.