Chief Secretary of the Tobago House of Assembly Orville London has assured Tobagonians that the issue of internal self-government for Tobago will be kept on the front burner.
“We cannot allow the issue of internal self-government for Tobago to be forgotten at any level... so when our Prime Minister very casually and matter-of-factedly gets up and tells the public that the Tobago bill will go the way of all other bills when the Parliament is prorogued and will lapse, you know what that means, end of play for that,” he told a packed Argyle Community Centre in the third Face-to-Face session in the Assembly’s democratisation process last Friday.
London said Tobagonians cannot allow themselves to be misled by the Prime Minister and the central government because it was the same Prime Minister who stood up on platforms throughout the length and breadth of Tobago and told Tobagonians the issue of internal self-government was maybe the sole issue on which the election was to be won.
“She said this is a referendum for Tobago and because they lost the election it was suddenly not important again,” London added.
London said it was the most important issue facing Tobago at this point in time...just as it was the most important issue before the election it was the most important issue after the election.
“Well if it is not important to them, then we have got to send a signal that it is important to us. This is not an Orville London story, it is not an assembly story, it is not a political party story, it is a Tobago people story and therefore how this story plays out will depend on Tobagonians.”
The Chief Secretary said too many people in authority operated on the premise that people forget, this thing about nine-day wonders...there were people whose political careers were staked and based on that premise. “T&T is a nine-day society, so it is all right, they will make noise, they will gallery and they will forget.”
London said the dangerous aspect of what the Prime Minister told reporters last week was that the process of self-government for Tobago had been taken over by the process of constitutional reform.
“You all understand the implications of that. What she is telling us in Tobago is that our fate with respect to internal self-government is going to depend on whether the Government is able to pass all of the Constitution for all of the people, so a process that started five years ago where we have engaged Tobagonians, where we have decided exactly what we want, where we have reached the point of having the bills and let us debate that, she is saying that it should be commingled with the Constitution reform process.
“Now tell me are we as Tobagonians going to sit and allow that to happen because all of us know what happens when you try as we are trying to do in T&T to reform an entire Constitution. Sometimes that takes decades, sometimes that takes generations. This constitutional reform process is so complicated that even the most casual observer must come to the conclusion that it eh go happen now, it might not happen in any of our time,” London said.
He said what the Prime Minister was telling Tobagonians was that after all that they did in the last five years they must sit down and quietly say wait on the writers of the Constitution. “I have nothing against constitutional reform and I think Tobagonians must get involved in it,” he stressed.