Dr. Kwame Nantambu

Prime Minister Without Clothes

Posted: February 07, 2004
Dr. Kwame Nantambu

Prime Minister Patrick Manning and his nuttin PNM government have now made the final turn into the homestretch to political impotence, shamelessness and bacchanal.

And all this is at the expense of the innocent citizens of TnT.

This dark, ominous cloud ascended across TnT during the 2003-04 Budget debate wherein a public policy document titled "Social and Economic Policy Framework 2004" surfaced.

This document, produced by the PNM government and no other entity, categorically states that COSTAATT would "establish targeted recruitment programmes for male Trinidadians aged 17-24, especially Afro- Trinidadian males."

At first blush, two government ministers, namely, Danny Montano and Dr. Keith Rowley both had no problem with that specific clause and did not see any need to apologise for such a policy.

Then, everything just hit the fan.

Junior Finance Minister Conrad Enill's bewildered excuse is that "it was a printer's error", while his boss, the Prime Minister, ex temporized that it was a "quite innocent error" which he laid at the feet of his public servants who are "still stuck in (their USA) orientation".

What a colossal joke and puerile cop-out by the Prime Minister!

The fact of the matter is that no government public policy should target one ethnic group either above, below or at the expense of another group.

Public policy and governance in TnT must not be based on race, religion or ethnicity.

Public policy and governance in TnT must be leery about using any alien model. What is good for Euro-America may not be necessarily good nor applicable to TnT; in fact, the reverse may be true.

Truth be told: the problem in TnT is not race but ethnicity.

The Afrikans who were brought to this land involuntarily from Afrika to be enslaved as dentured "infidel peoples" are a people of colour - they are not White.

The Indians who came to TnT voluntarily from India to be enslaved as indentured servants are a people of colour; they are not White.

These two ethnic groups/classes of people of colour (as in non-white) were both enslaved by Europeans - White people.

During this European experience, race, skin-colour did not matter. The European slave-master did not care about the skin-colour of the slave - he only cared about the slave's economic profitability.

This is the sad, psychological legacy of our common European enslavement history - an experience that threatens to haemorrhage, divide and poison the very fabric of this multi-racial-cultural society.

The very essence of that reality should convince all of us that public policy must not be preferential, discriminatory nor race-ethnicity-based. We are all one TnT. And public policy must be for the people, by the people and of all the people.

The fact of the matter is that no ethnic class/group is superior or inferior to another in TnT; and any other notion is just a figment of somebody's ahistorical, divisive and dysfunctional imagination.

"Race matters" in another minority - majority social milieu - it does not matter in TnT.

Enough said about race, let us get back to public policy concerns.

The fact of the matter is that this writer has been a university professor in the United States from August 1974 to May 2003.

During that tenure, he has graded hundreds of term papers written and submitted by students.

When a student received a grate of "D" for his/her term paper, no student has ever told this Professor Emeritus that the blame or "error" for the "typos", grammatical mistakes, etc, in the paper are the fault of the typist.

The fact of the matter is that the student has the direct, sole responsibility to proofread the entire paper before it is submitted to me for grading.

The paper bears the name of the student, not the typist.

It is totally immaterial and irrelevant whether or not the student had a "voluminous" amount of other term papers to write or exams to study for prior to submitting the paper to me.

His problem is totally irrelevant. "Voluminous" work is absolutely no excuse - at least for this professor.

And if that student was even dare enough to give this professor such a flimsy excuse, then he/she would have been summarily chased out of my office. Students knew my high standard of quality in regard to scholarship.

Such behaviour from any irresponsible student is totally unacceptable to any responsible professor in academia.

It must also be totally unacceptable from any irresponsible minister(s) to any responsible citizenry/electorate in the political arena.

There is absolutely no exception to this rule.

Hopefully, the conscious voting public will summarily chase the incompetent, nuttin PNM and the corrupt, moribund UNC from political office in 2005. Neither of them has any public policy standard of quality - except low and lower.

In short, the "D" grade for the student's term paper would stay intact. Case closed, end of discussion.

However, such a firm, dogmatic situation operates only in the same world; it does not operate in the insane world of TnT.

The fact of the matter is that just as the student, the Prime Minister bears the sole, final and direct responsibility for the public submission of any error-laden policy document that carries his name.

This document was published under the title of the Ministry of Finance - Patrick Manning is that Minister and therefore, he alone must bear responsibility for the incompetence of his ministry and staff.

However, since we are dealing with the unique case of TnT, Prime Minister Patrick Manning knows that he can get away with this utter foolishness because he has ascribed the public as dotish people with sheepish-puppet-like behaviour.

The fact of the matter is that just as Prime Minister manning says that the "innocent error" occurred because "the Budget documents were very voluminous", in the very same way, the Minister of Degradation (Education) said that the "innocent error" why private secondary schools for Government - sponsored students were not paid outstanding fees by her ministry is because her staff had over 50 projects with which to deal over the school vacation.

Are these two supposedly responsible ministers au courant with the concept called Division of Labour? Apparently, they are not.

Where is ministerial quality control?

It does not exist anywhere and at any level in the nuttin PNM government.

Maybe both ministers drink from the same pipe at home. They are both totally and unashamedly incompetent public officials.

Like the "error" created after every heavy rainfall, these officials blame everybody and everything, but themselves.

Now, the Prime Minister says that the "innocent error" was caused by the Government Printery - blame the printer.

Indeed, it is the same excuse that social commentator Pink Panther gave in his 1998 rendition "Misprint" during the Dimanche Gras calypso monarch competition.

Pink Panther said that the "error" occurred in his calypso because: "Dey misprint meh calypso."

A la Prime Minister Manning, Pink Panther blamed the printer for the "innocent error" in his song.

Although the label says: "written and sung by Pink Panther", yet blame is not assigned to the property entity - the calypsonian himself.

In his typical, signature lavooway, Prime Minister Manning insinuated: "Dey misprint meh policy".

However, the analogy ends there. In other words, "Misprint" is a calypso strictly for entertainment. The "error" therein does not affect or impact people's lives in anyway.

It is not a reflection of government's public policy, unlike the "error" in COSTAATT'S policy document, which is.

This point that must be made is that mind-set/mentality of calypsonian Pink Panther and Patrick Manning is the same; their individual "error" circumstance is the only difference.

This public policy "innocent error" fiasco only proves and validates the carnival-like mentality towards public policy and governance under the PNM with Patrick Manning at the supreme, despicable and disgraceful helm.

Patrick manning has given the concept of laissez-faire a very bad name.

The buck must stop at the desk in the Office of the Prime Minister; it must not stop at the desk in the office of the Government Printery.

Truth be told: The time is right now for Prime Minister Patrick Manning to clothe himself in the shroud of public integrity and decency lined with political honesty and transparency, at minimum.

The blame-game avails TnT nothing-only mediocrity and nothing-ness with regard to the formulation and implementation of public policy and governance are the end-results.

In the final analysis, the "typographical error" debacle provides the most compelling, prosecutorial evidence to convince the average independent-minded citizen that the Ministries of Finance and Degradation (Education) are valid cesspools of ineptitude and pre-meditated public policy criminality.

Who is your next scapegoat, Mr. Prime Minister?

Shem Hotep ("I go in peace").

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