Dr. Kwame Nantambu

Cycle of political chaos in TnT
Posted: August 10, 2002
An analysis by
Dr. Kwame Nantambu

Sometime ago, Trinis used to say: "Williams was too deaffy" and "Chambers was too duncy"; now the new slogans should be: Panday and the UNC too corruptcy and PNM and Manning ain't doin' nuttin.

Political life in TnT seems to be too chaotic and mischievous, beginning with the UNC leader and leader of the unLoyal opposition, Basdeo Panday's claim that the TT$10million account "money belongs to his wife Oma."

As this writer understands it, when she was First Lady, Mrs. Oma Panday DID NOT receive a monthly salary from the State for holding that position. Maybe, Mrs. Panday is an excellent investor to amass such a huge amount of money. Maybe, Mrs. Panday is doing secret outside consulting jobs to amass such a huge amount of money. Just maybe.

Now, there is another strange situation whereby UNC St. Joseph MP and former Minister of Infrastructure, Carlos John, not only receive a $500,000 cheque from UNC financier Ish Galbarasingh but also wired TT$200,000 to Oma Panday's bank account in London, while he was a UNC minister. Why are people showing so much monetary love to Oma? What's up with all this love going to Oma? Is Oma the UNC's Lady of the Banking Hour?

Questions that immediately come to the fore are:

What percentage of the $1.6billion Piarco International Airport project contract did Northern Construction Limited receive from the UNC government?

Under what minister and ministry did this project fall?

Is somebody or are somebodies operating a laundry in London, England?

And to further compound the political chaos, UNC-Opposition leader, Basdeo Panday, has been attempting to play a mind-game by running around the country telling people of a supposed government "Plot" to arrest him, put him in jail and that Trinis live "in the grasp of a Gestapo state" and that the police are "the agents of a repressive regime."

In the first place, it would be insane and a total waste of taxpayers money and valuable police time and effort to arrest Panday. Basdeo Panday desperately wants to become Prime Minister once again and he will try any and all means necessary to achieve this goal --- even becoming a martyr. Panday has become sick to the gall since 24 December 2001. He now functions as a severely wounded lion who is constantly foaming at the mouth 24-7-365. Panday's notion that TnT is now "in the grasp of a Gestapo state" only confirms this writer's long-held conviction that maybe the leader of the unLoyal Opposition hasn't looked at himself in the mirror lately.

If he did, he would have discovered that although Gestapo does not rhyme with PNM, but Gestapo does rhyme fiasco and Piarco; just as corruption does rhyme with Northern Construction and half a million; just as public burglary and dishonesty do rhyme with skullduggery and the UNC. And although "wire transfer" does not rhyme with Oma, but quid pro quo does rhyme with Basdeo; just as UNC political loss does rhyme with Carlos.

Panday's assertion that the police "are agents of a repressive regime" only represents the guilty conscience and remarks of a scared accused. The police are only doing their jobs in apprehending culprits and wrong-doers in the process of bringing them to justice. If Panday has nothing to hide, then what is he complaining about? His public pronouncements only prove the adage that "power corrupts but absolute power corrupts absolutely." Panday is absolutely paranoid about regaining political power so that his UNC cronies can wallow in financial riches.

Let us not forget the "scandal called Piarco Airport."Let us also not forget the alledged single conspiratorial unMagnificent Eight plus Three. Panday's public remarks of "sabotage" and that "the problem was not poor workmanship but vindictiveness " only speak volumes of his total incompetence to return as Prime Minister. He is suffering from flights or seizures of stupidity, recklessness and downright disrespect for the people of TnT.

Panday's public recklessness and flights of fantasy/stupidity were further expressed when he and former housing minister, Sadiq Baksh, attempted to force Dr. Enrique Iglesias, President of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to cancel a proposed trip to TnT. Their threatening letter that accused Iglesias of "interference in the political affairs of this country" represents their "arrogance of power" at its zenith. It also represents public stupidity, puerile thinking and reasoning and utter contempt for the interests and goodwill of the poor and the "least of these" in TnT. And to put the final icing on top of his brainless political cake, UNC leader and leader of the unLoyal Opposition, Basdeo Panday, has stated that "under the Manning administration, the country is moving further downhill economically, politically and socially each day."

Are Trinis to assume and/or is Panday assuming that the country was moving further uphill morally, decently, equally, ethically, trustworthily, functionally, constructively, non-corruptively, non-tyrantly, democratically and electorally under the Panday-UNC administration each day?

Bas : Give me a break, p-l-e-a-s-e ! Your threat of "war" is just a smokescreen electioneering, vile tactic that only scares and fires up the belly of your own sheep-like supporters. General elections will not be held through the barrel of a gun.

On the other side of the chaotic political spectrum, exhumes the PNM government --- a government, while facing the stark reality that "Parliament still the critical missing link", nevertheless has been suffering from an acute bout of foot and mouth disease, at least, for starters.

There was the public embarrassment when the Junior Finance Minister Conrad Enil had to "back down on his claim that the (HUC) co-operative was under investigation". And Massa Prime Minister Patrick Manning had to step to the podium to bailout two of his ministers with the sorry but Trini excuse that "my ministers can make mistakes."

This is a clear case of proven incompetence that has been condoned by the Prime Minister. Do these ministers speak to each other and thus discuss issues at cabinet meetings before they flap open their big, shallow mouths in public?

What kind of inter-ministerial system, if any, that does exist under this government? Or is it a case whereby each minister speaks for himself until he/she messes up ---- and then the grand Massa will step in and calm things down?

This is governance insanity at the highest level.

Secondly, Mister Prime Minister, those two gentlemen are not your ministers. On the contrary, they are the servants of the PEOPLE or at least, they should be in the proper scheme of things; but again, this is TnT. These ministers should have been fired on the spot. It is totally the heights of irresponsibility for ministers of any government to make such public accusative pronouncements that affect the financial-survival daily lives of the people and for these statements to be dismissed and put under the rug as if they were just "ex tempo" government policy statements.

ONLY in TnT!

In another serious situation, police brutality is literally off the charts in TnT. And Trinis are suing the State left and right as a result. And the Prime Minister is not stepping up to the podium in this case; maybe, he only intends to protect the lives and livelihood of his ministers and not the people.

On the flip side, violence in TnT has now bypassed "epidemic" proportions. And the PNM government has been totally impotent and asleep at the wheels to take a bite out of the crime scene in TnT. Maybe if violence reaches the doors of ministers then the Prime Minister will step up to the podium. For the time being, only the people are the victims, particularly women.

Today, the life of a woman means nothing in TnT. And the PNM government is doing nothing to eradicate this human insanity and behaviour. Maybe if female ministers were the targets, then the Prime Minister will step up to the podium.

Still on the female topic, it need occasion no great surprise that "the crisis in education remains " in TnT and will get even worse in the near future. Mrs. Hazel Manning's tenure as Minister of Education has been and continues to be an unmitigated disaster and nightmare for students.

The Ministry of Education has not dealt with the problems of teacher training, school conditions, quality education, abusive teachers, drug-trafficking in schools, school violence and anger management among students, just to name a few. The reality is that the approach to education has taken on the trappings of an Education Dimanche Gras show. You cannot hope and pray that problems will just go away and disappear on their own.

"Ex tempo" policies and downright arrogance by the officials of the education ministry will not solve this crisis. Indeed, one may argue that the officials are the problem.

Still on the female topic, the crisis in health remains. Working, surgical and sterilization problem conditions are at best "chaotic" at the Port-of-Spain General Hospital and that's putting it mildly. They are even worse in Tobago. The fact of the matter is that :

Nurses have not been paid
Public civil servants have to wait with their dry mouths open to receive payment of increment arrears
Teachers have not been paid "Agitated elders", who are not "badjohns" are demanding "just dues"

Where is the love for these hard-working nurses and doctors, PNM government? Where is the love for these hard-working teachers, PNM government? Does the PNM government have a heart when it comes to the suffering human condition in TnT?

There now exists a situation under the Hazel Manning tenure where parents are attacking teachers in schools in front of young children. Security in schools is basically a joke and a Dimanche Gras sham. And in typical Trini way of life, while there is total chaos in education and health amidst epidemic crime scene, Trinis are requesting and maybe demanding, PORN via cable television.

Now, this juxtaposition just blows my mind.

It's insane, but yet Trini adults are surprised when the youths act insane. These young people only represent a Xerox copy of insane adult behaviour in all its manifestations. Again, maybe this writer is missing something with regard to the linkage between lack of education, chaos in health but seriousness, vitality and precision in porn. In TnT, insanity becomes reality.

This Trini insanity boggles my mind. This is frightening, at least to the sane observer.

Maybe, Trinis like it so!

On another human topic, the PNM government has not outlined a serious, well-thought plan to curb the ever-increasing unemployment problem. Where is responsible, human-oriented-driven governance in TnT? It does not exist as of this writing. Governance needs to be taken to the next level in TnT. Governance in TnT is in a critical comatose state with no doctors to operate anywhere. In typical Trini modus operandi, pappyshow, congosa and mamaguay seem to be the run-away political-governance road march.

Do Trinis sense and/or feel that something is "sinking"?

The Minister of Education is an absentee Ladylord. And this is despite the latest $131.6 million book plan. The crisis in education is NOT a monetary one ; it is social, familial, communal, human, behavioural, attitudinal that is further compounded by lack of moral values and respect for authority, effective policy planning and an holistic approach.

The Minister of Health is an absentee Landlord.

But the Prime Minister is just a missing Lord.

The sad reality is that a UNC alternative seems too ghastly to contemplate, but remember, two from two equals zero!.

The PNM government should not be allowed to use the non-existent Parliament as an excuse for mal-governance, neglect of critical social issues and effective nothingness.

As of this writing, TnT is notoriously and debilitatingly infected with political AIDS-Big Time.

On the one hand, "cut and paste''/ "ex tempo" official decision-making process is repugnant and an insult to citizens of any country on this planet. While on the other, saber-rattling belongs in the uncivilized, primitive era. As such, Panday's current threatening, abusive, sorry-loser, cry-baby political antics and polytricks seem to be stuck in that era.

The current cycle of revolving door, power hungry, ego-tripping, old school, unimaginative, counterfeit politics must end in TnT.

Maybe representative governance in TnT needs a new, different pair of political khaki pants. The more things change, the more they remain the same.

Shem Hotep ("I go in peace").

Dr. Nantambu is an Associate Professor, Dept. of Pan-African Studies, Kent State University, U.S.A.

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