Dr. Kwame Nantambu

Listen to Nizam Mohammed's message, not the messenger: Updated

By Dr. Kwame Nantambu
April 04, 2011

It has been a rather perplexing and strange experience to follow the national chorus of prominent citizens' adamant position that President George Maxwell Richards should remove Nizam Mohammed as chairman of the PSC.

Their rationale for his revocation is the comment he made before Parliament's JSC. Mr. Nizam Mohammed told the JSC and by extension, the national community that:

  • In terms of the "ethnic composition of leadership in the TTPS, out of 50 positions, only ten were held by East Indians.

  • Ten Assistant Commissioners of Police-No East Indians.

  • Three Deputy Commissioners of Police-No East Indians.

  • 15 Senior Superintendents - No East Indians.

  • 31 Superintdents-21 Africans and ten East Indians."

Now, the antagonists are only focusing on the above overt ethnic imbalance in the TTPS. This represents a Euro-centric approach to a problem/issue whereby one focuses on the results/effects of a problem/issue rather than it causes.

The salient fact of the matter is that no one seems to realize that this comment is not the judgement /position of the PSC chairman. It does not represent or infer his view/analysis/opinion of the ethnic make-up of the TTPS.

According to public reports, the statistics herein contained in Mr. Mohammed's comment were already provided by the Commissioner of Police in his report to the Director of Personnel Administration, Service Commission Department.

To this writer's knowledge, the PSC chairman neither analyzed nor gave any public policy recommendations to the JSC to balance this ethnic imbalance in the TTPS. He just provided hard-core stats/facts. He was only the messenger relaying the message provided by the Commissioner of Police.

Indeed, Mr. Mohammed has not created a "controversy", on the contrary, he has shaken-up the ethnic reality in the TTPS and because of this noble deed, he has now become the victim/target of public "selective prosecution."

On the one hand, Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar, in a statement from her office, labelled Mr. Mohammed's comment as "inflammatory and unwise" and even "reckless."

To repeat, Mr. Mohammed's comment represents the primary findings of the PP government-appointed Commissioner of Police. Question : Is the Honourable Prime Minister saying that the information(message) provided by her Commissioner of Police is , ipso facto, "inflammatory and unwise" and even "reckless?" or are her labels only assigned to the messenger, Mr. Mohammed, simply because he made it public?

Talk about transparency: why is the messenger tarred and feathered for only doing his job in the public's interest?

On the other hand, former attorney general Ramesh Lawerence Maharaj has publicly labelled Mr. Mohammed's comment as "sedition". Again, is Mr. Maharaj also labelling the primary findings of the Commissioner of Police as "sedition" or is the messenger the only one to stand accused?

The fact of the matter is that not one of these attorneys-at-law, Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar and Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj has dared to tell the national community that Mr. Mohammed's comment is false, inaccurate, incorrect, fabricated and/or downright lies.

Ergo, the fundamental question is : Can any of these local, renowned attorneys prove to a judge in a court of law that Mr. Mohammed's public comment is as described above?

Any defence attorney worth his salt would tell the judge and jury that Mr. Mohammed was just the honest messenger relaying the primary, irrefutable evidence/ message to the JSC already provided by the Commissioner of Police-case against Mr. Mohammed thrown out.

Moreover, there is no race talk in Mr. Mohammed's public comment. He was just re-telling/re-iterating it as it is in terms of ethnic leadership composition in the TTPS.

Instead of focusing on developing policies and strategies to balance the ethnic imbalance in the TTPS, the messenger is being (expletive deleted by author).

The fact of the matter is that Mr. Nizam Mohammed did not seek to divide the country (as some people have claimed). His was not a divisive comment. He only sought to alert the country to this stark reality that has been existing for decades, particularly in the TTPS.

On the flip side of this current thorny but not intractable problem/issue, this writer poses the following poignant question: Would there have been a massive public outcry for Mr. Mohammed's removal from office if he had told the JSC the following:

  • the year 2011 is the first year that Satnarayan Maharaj, Secretary-General of the Santan Dharma Maha Sabha organization , has received its worthy government subvention from the PP government compared to the pittance it has received from the PNM government over umpteen years.

  • 99% plus of the vagrants on the streets of Port-of-Spain are Africans.

  • 99% of the population in all prisons in T&T are Africans.

  • Gang-related killings/murders , especially in east Port-of-Spain, are among young African-Trinbagonian males.

  • Africans do not comprise 99% of the membership of DOMA.

  • 95% plus of the membership of MPATT are East Indians.

  • 90% plus of the professional class (doctors, lawyers, judges/magistrates, bank managers, dentists, accountants, economists, business owners, developers, etc) in T&T are East Indians/Syrians.

  • the vast majority of students who are getting a free tertiary education at UWI are East Indians.

  • 99.9% plus of the drivers who drive "D big truck mamma" on carnival Monday and Tuesday are East Indians.

  • And the list goes on , and on , and on.

Ergo, the obvious answer to the above-posed poignant question is a BIG,FAT NO.

So, maybe, just maybe, there might be more in the mortar than Mr. Mohammed's public, pestle comment, but this writer will not go there.

Indeed, there is an adage that suggests: "the truth shall set you free." In the specific case of the PSC chairman, some Trinbagonians are clamouring for a literal interpretation/translation of this adage--they want the truth Mr. Mohammed reiterated/retold to the JSC to literally set him free from his position as chairman of the PSC.

The fact of the matter is that Mr. Mohammed is not a whistle-blower; he did not covertly reveal, disclose or leak secret, classified intelligence that jeopardized/undermined/threatened the national security of the Republic of T&T.

Mr. Mohammed committed no sin; he committed no crime; he did absolutely nothing wrong and since President George Richards has revoked his appointmernt as chairman of the PSC, then, it is incumbent upon Mr. Nizam Mohammed "to do the right thing" and sue the State for wrongful dismissal from office. This is the principled thing for him to do.

The bottom-line is that Mr. Mohammed's public comment to the JSC brought to the fore the stark reality that contrary to the lyrics/spirit/sentiment of our constitution, as of April 2011, T&T is a place "where every creed and race (do not find) an equal place."

The leadership composition of the TTPS is just one example; there are several others.

In the final analysis, in this putative era of genuine transparency, accountability and consultancy, maybe honesty is not the best public policy.

Shem Hotep ("I go in peace").

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

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