The TOP and PP leopards can never change their spots. During the months prior to the January 21, 2013 election, they bombarded the Tobago electorate with half-truths and outright lies. They disrespected the Assembly and the other Tobago institutions; they disregarded the duly elected Members of the Assembly and they attempted to bribe and bully the island’s residents. Tobagonians rejected that insulting treatment and that insensitive posture in a decisive manner at the polls and one would have expected that, for some reasonable period of time, the lessons of the election wipeout would have resonated with the Tobago Organization of the People and their People’s Partnership managers.
Recent actions have signalled that there is no hope of any change and disrespectful and disingenuous behaviour will continue to be the order of the day. It must be disheartening to all right-thinking Tobagonians, regardless of their political affiliation, that just five weeks after the election and a mere two weeks after Chief Secretary Orville London and Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar would have finally met and discussed issues of concern, that Minister of National Security Jack Warner should come to Tobago to discuss the island’s security issues with Minister for Tobago Development, Delmon Baker to the exclusion of any representation from the Tobago House of Assembly. Ministers Warner and Baker must be reminded that the practice over the years, has been that the Ministers of National Security and the Chief Secretary would collaborate in hosting regular meetings to which the Tobago based Ministers of Government, the relevant Secretaries, Administrators and Heads of Divisions in the Tobago House of Assembly and the Heads of the various units of the Ministry of National Security would be invited. At these meetings, crucial issues would be discussed and decisions could often be made “on the spot” and implemented because all the Stakeholders would have been present. The new approach by Ministers Warner and Baker is not only insulting and disrespectful but counterproductive. The Ministers would have basked in their media moments but, as in so many other situations in the past thirty-three months, the implementation is frustrating because of the refusal of the Central Government to cooperate with the Assembly in a meaningful and productive manner.
The Minister of National Security, in typical Warner style, compounded the insult by asserting that the Minister of Tobago Development is responsible for security in Tobago. This was the same type of argument used to support the claim of a former Minister of Tobago Development that her Ministry was responsible for the Tobago Regional Health Authority. The Minister and her theory have since been discarded but it is tiring for the Assembly to be consistently involved in fighting battles that they thought that they had already won. It is even more frustrating at this time when Chief Secretary Orville London who instead of gloating over his party’s overwhelming victory, extended an open hand of cooperation and goodwill across the waters, only to be met with a clenched fist.
Anslem Richards and his TOP colleagues have also not learnt that the people of Tobago are not easily fooled and that they punish those who try to mamaguy them and insult their intelligence. Still smarting from his unsuccessful foray into representative politics, Anslem Richards deliberately misrepresented information ”spirited out” of the Division of Finance and Enterprise Development to create the impression that the Assembly had distributed 4000 food cards in the two weeks prior to the January 21st election. Faced with documented evidence that in fact, only 143 cards have been distributed over a three-month period and that the process is rigid, transparent and free of interference from the political directorate, Richards does not have the grace to apologize but has now shifted his focus to the relationship between the Assembly and the bank. The Council is confident that the Tobago electorate will continue to remind Anslem Richards that they will not treat kindly with Tobagonians who are prepared to manipulate information in an effort to demean their political opponents and enhance their public image.
Minister Delmon Baker is also not averse to tinkering with the truth in his bid to revive his badly tarnished image. He has now embarked on a ploy to pose with all visiting Ministers and give Tobagonians the impression that the Ministry is responsible for development initiatives in Tobago. His latest claim is that his Ministry is embarking on a programme to introduce Internet Communication Technology in Tobago. Minister Baker omitted to inform Tobagonians that contrary to the impression given by him and his Cabinet colleague, Minister Griffith, the lone Central Government initiated Information Centre at Bon Accord was placed there in 2008, under the previous PNM Administration. It is the Tobago House of Assembly which has embarked on a programme of “setting up” Walk-in Centres around the island and installing computer labs in secondary and primary schools. This programme will be intensified during this term of the Assembly and the Tobago people will be given accurate information on the progress and impact of this initiative.
Disrespectful and disingenuous behaviour can only be counteracted by the dissemination of accurate and timely information. The people have to be informed and involved. The Tobago Council of the People’s National Movement is, therefore, highly supportive of the present Assembly’s threat to democratize the Government process in Tobago. That process will ensure that those who continue to mamaguy and mislead, will continue to be frustrated.
By The Tobago Council People’s National Movement