Dr. Kwame Nantambu

Government as if people don't matter

By Dr. Kwame Nantambu
January 02, 2007

During the heyday of European colonialism when the colonized were denied adult suffrage, the European colonizer arrogantly and automatically assumed that he knew what was best for the colonized. The European colonizer also assumed that it was his Divine Right to assign all policy decisions of governance unto himself. This represented the parental and condescending nature of Euro-colonialism.

The fact of the matter is that "the more things change, the more they remain the same."

This adage is inherent in today's era of putative political independence. In other words, although Euro-British colonialism ended in TnT in 1962 and the former colonized now had the right to elect an indigenous representative government, one finds that the old, parental, Euro-British-colonial system of governance has remained the same.

This system now functions as neocolonialism in TnT.

In the early heyday of neo-colonialism, then Prime Minister Dr. Eric Williams once told Trinbagonians: "If yuh doh like it, get to hell outta here" in regard to the parental, neocolonial PNM's public policy decisions of governance.

Today, the neocolonial PNM government of Prime Minister Patrick Manning is exhibiting these very same arrogant/ dictatorial/ parental/ condescending symptoms in regard to its public policy decisions concerning smelter plants, rapid rail transportation system, the massive Port-of-Spain Waterfront Development Project, east Port-of-Spain re-development housing project and the national Carnival and arts/cultural centers at the Queen's Park Savannah and Princess Building.

In all of these vital decisions of transparent governance, there were either no public and/or only ex post/superficial consultations with the relevant, affected stakeholders.

In typical neocolonial "arrogance of power" modus operandi, Prime Minister Patrick Manning only revisited/ retrieved/ repackaged Dr. Williams' power cue by publicly announcing: "It's a done deal." in regard to the smelters. This is the new and improved system of neocolonial governance in TnT as if We, the People, do not matter.

We, the People, have been totally left out of these major decision-making processes that have very serious, deleterious effects on our lives and generations to come.

However, the Prime Minister must realize that his government has had the first say now but at the next general elections in 2007, We, the People, will have the final say and loud laugh. The PNM government must realize that We, the People, brought it into office and We, the People, will take it out.

In the final analysis, the decision-makers in the PNM cabinet need to internalize this appropriate 1857 admonition of deceased Afrikan-American revolutionary, anti-slavery hero, Frederick Douglass: "The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress."

In any system of governance, this must hold true and sacred: Magnum Sunt Populi---Great Are the People. We, the People, will and must always prevail. Governments come and governments go but We, the People, will go on for ever. There are no limits to the power of the people. The power of governments is finite; the power of We, the People, is infinite.

Shem Hotep ("I go in peace").

Dr. Kwame Nantambu is a part-time lecturer at Cipriani College of Labour and Co-operative Studies and University of the West Indies.

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