Dr. Kwame Nantambu

Political Déjà vu in TnT
Posted: September 13, 2002
An analysis by
Dr. Kwame Nantambu

Now that Parliament has been dissolved. Now that the Constitution validates the holding of general elections. Now that the convening of Parliament to elect a Speaker is legal. Now that Ramesh Maharaj's election lawsuit has been ruled to be null and void and devoid of merit because the judiciary cannot get involved in the process of governance.

Now that Basdeo Panday and the 18 UNC MPs took absolutely no one by surprise on 28 August 2002.

Now that no Speaker of the House of Representatives was elected and no budget passed or even put on the Order Paper by the Clerk of the House.

Now that 7 October has been announced as the date for the holding of general elections. Now what?

The fact of the matter is that the Auditor General is still busy on the JOB exposing the endemic corruption, thievery, burglary, and skullduggery of the UNC and the flagrant and arrogant "unauthorized payments" of former UNC Minister of Infrastructure Development and Local Government, Carlos John to buddies, cliques,and cronies.

Indeed, the sum of $.5million in " unauthorized payments" by Carlos John does have a familiar ring.Maybe, the quid pro quo system of financial governance of the UNC has a certain lucky or target numerical amount. Maybe there is no difference between a national and international wire transfer in the eyes of the UNC Ministers.

In the corruptive modus operandi of the UNC, it really does not matter; money is money, whether it is transferred, obtained, or garnered from the legal front-side or the illegal/unauthorized back-side or even sideways.

The UNC regime under Basdeo Panday stands solo at the top of the charts when it comes to arrogance of power in governance, total disregard for established governmental procedures and regulations, social responsibility and public accountability and respect for the rule of law.

In fact, the threatening and badjohn- like behaviour of Basdeo Panday disqualifies him to become Prime Minister. He does not have the personality nor acumen because of his insane, paranoid, and at times, uncontrollable propensity to acquire and amass all power unto himself and his unabated and uncanny penchant to eschew crucial matters of public integrity and trust.

No individual with such deficiencies is worthy to hold the esteem title/position of Prime Minister of TnT.

As the adage goes: "power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely." Panday not only resembles this adage but this picture also bears his name.

Any sane, responsible, maximum leader must possess the mind-set that he is not above the law; Basdeo Panday does not possess such a mind set. And he never will, at least not in this life-time. Maybe in the next, Bas!

TnT cannot afford to subject itself to such a defective, corruptive and unimaginative government like the UNC. If Cambridge University professors or the C X C examiners were to grade the performance of the Panday-UNC regime in office, then their grade would vacillate between "C" and "D" , at a very generous best.

Of course, if their behaviour is true to form, a typical under-the-table quid pro quo will be manufactured and transferred nationally or internationally and then their grade would automatically catapult to an ":A".

Such would be their natural behavior or reaction to a "C" or "D" grade because dishonesty, illegality and collusion permeate every fiber of their political body. And they always will.

The UNC government has totally defaced, defrauded and ditched every single public programme that has impacted the people, that is, whether they are roads (NREP), "himself awarding himself" in collusive, albeit self-serving and criminal, transportation contract awards schemes (NCL-Piarco International Airport Project), image-making-development (Tidco), critical health matters/issues (SWRHA, TRHA and NWRHA), electoral honesty (EBC), and so on and so on.

It is as if the Panday-UNC connection has been removed from earthly reality. It is as if this connection could not see nor visualise beyond their nose, if there was one. It is as if the Panday-UNC has not experienced or are oblivious to the accolades of political civility.

This is not the kind of regime that should govern TnT in its 41st year of independence and beyond.

The fact of the matter is that as a result of the corruptive UNC regime since 1995, TnT has now been the recipient of the coveted prize of being ranked 33rd out of 102 countries in the world-wide Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI).

Job well done Panday-UNC; you have made us Trinis and TnT proud internationally.

TnT does not need the re-emergence or re-election of such a corrupt, power-hungry elite in governance.

Political cremation should be the final call for UNC politicians. Dust to dust, ashes to ashes---Amen!

The picture is not so different on the other side, however. The khaki pants is still the same; only a different political person is wearing it. This latter person in office is walking and talking just like the former political person.

The only difference lies in the decimal fraction of corruption and power hungoverness. It's the same mammaguay, congosa and pappyshow in politics and governance in TnT.

The more things change the more they remain the same with compound interest. Only the faces change every five years.

Corruption, ineptitude and nuttiness remain a constant, permanent variable. There does not seem to be guilt on either the PNM nor the UNC.

As of this writing, there have been eighteen incidents of kidnappings in TnT. Education planning is an unmitigated, abysmal, uncontrollable disaster that has already happened.

Health delivery services have sunk to the bottom (and beyond) of the ladder of governance responsibility.

While on the flip side, the PNM government seems incompetent, impotent and incapable of either addressing, dealing with or reducing the exponential raise in the crime rate.

The insane policy-decision of the nuttin Manning-PNM regime seems to be : the problem will solve itself by going away on its own. What insanity in public office.

Oh, Minister Lee, your government's crime-kidnapping-solving policy is just, plain ugly and on second thoughts, it might have serious roadmarch potential.

And contrary to the scary public remarks by Police Commissioner, Hilton Guy, crime is both a "national issue" and a "political issue." These were very irresponsible, ill-conceived, obscene and absurd remarks from the Commissioner.

Thus, it seems obvious and evident why no entity appears to be efficient and capable enough to solve this thorny, intractable national problem. Why should anyone be surprised?

What the erudite, esteem Police Commissioner must understand very clearly is that there is a direct and irreversible symbiotic relationship between crime and politics in TnT, as in every other country on this planet earth. TnT is NO exception. That must be properly understood by everyone.

If the Commissioner does not understand nor appreciates this holistic relationship, then crapaud will indeed smoke the citizen's pipe, as it has been doing and will continue to do at will.

The fact of the matter is that policy-makers, who are also politicians, are the entrusted entities to conceive, formulate and implement plans and strategies to solve this national problem that falls under the rubric of crime.

So, how can the Police Commissioner dissect, dislodge and diss this twin relationship?

Again, maybe this writer is missing something when it comes to public administration and governance in TnT.

These two issues seem to be couched and implemented within a typical Trini carnival-Dimanche Gras-like framework. And it is within this context and this insane context alone, do the public remarks of the Police Commissioner make any sense whatsoever.

That's the Trini way and Trinis like it so. This is insanity gone stark, craving MAD at the highest levels of governance in TnT.

The nuttin Manning-PNM regime has been a scratching, debilitating, unhealthy "eyesore" on the delivery, management and administration of services to the people, especially to the "least-of-these", the 'little people."

This irresponsible system of governance must end on Election Day.And the Minister of Education would never realize in her wildest dreams, the relief she presented to the people by deciding that "she would not be a candidate in the next election."

Indeed, never before in the history of TnT has education been allowed to sink to the nadir of governance and social, public policy decision-making.

This writer remains convinced that poor, hard-working parents and guardians in the scandalous $1,000 book loan programme jumped for joy at the Minister's decision. There must be a better way.

The bottom-line is that Election Day is the occasion to rid TnT of political recidivism. Enough is enough. There is need for new political blood. The PNM-UNC ole-timers have got to go. They have not served the people nor the country well. They have only served themselves, their families, their close friends and buddies, cliques, cronies, associates and supporters well. The needs/interests of the rest of the unsung population have fallen by the wayside, to say the least.

Well-conceived and thought-out coalition-alliance party politics is the only tactic/remedy/strategy to get rid of the PNM and UNC.

And this strategy should not be shelved even if there is another 18-18 tie on Election Day. This new political agenda has potent potential mileage in TnT's political future. It is a valid option.

This writer hopes that TnT citizens would answer and heed this clarion call.

The time is now for conscious Trinis not only to turn to a new political page but also to open and read a new political book of realistic coalition-alliance party politics.

On Election Day, Trinis must not only make TnT drug free and crime-kidnapping free but also nuttin Manning-PNM free and corruptive Panday-UNC free.

Both Panday and Manning should be made to bite the political dust on that Day.

One aim, One destiny, One TnT.

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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