By Dr. Kwame Nantambu
May 16, 2009
The recent domino-like collapse of the membership of the Integrity Commission brings to the fore the stark reality of the co-existence of dictatorship politics in the Office of the Prime Minister and the Office of the President of T&T.
The fact of the matter is that the decision by President Professor George Maxwell Richards to appoint Jeffery Mac Farlane as a member and co-chairman of the Integrity Commission suggests two things: either the President is totally incompetent in the highest decision-making process in the country or he has overtly exhibited the utmost “arrogance of power” in this regard or both.
Indeed, the appointment of Jeffery Mac Farlane was a simple CXC or SEA decision that any school student at that level could have made.
President Richards did not have to utilize any complex/integrated /simulated Einstein mathematical formulae or any similar engineering equations to make the only correct decision in this case. The President literally “blew it.”
The Integrity Act specifically states that no appointed member shall hold membership on any state board(s). That’s it in plain English — nothing complicated or vague. There is neither room nor need for legal interpretation. Keep it simple.
On the Curriculum Vitae (CV) that Mr. Mac Farlane would have submitted to President Richards, it would have been clearly stated in plain English that he had membership on more than one state board at the time of his appointment to the Commission.
In this regard, the following questions immediately arise: With all due respect, does President Richards, a former UWI Principal, understand plain English? Does President Richards understand/realize that NO means NO as in NO membership? Did President Richards wilfully defy T&T’s constitution, albeit laws, in making this appointment with the full knowledge and written information before that Mr. Mac Farlane was totally disqualified for such appointment? Did President Richards conclude that since he has the final/sole power of last resort in this decision that he can tell T&T’s constitution and laws “to go to hell”? Did President Richards engage in any third party collusion and/or consultation in his decision? And finally, do Trinbagonians think and/or believe that Prime Minister Patrick Manning will call on President Richards to resign?
Indeed, it is instructive to recall the apocalyptic admonition of social commentator, albeit Calypsonian, Versatile that “one tief doh like to see another tief with ah bag.”
Since Prime Minister Patrick Manning and President George Maxwell Richards apparently seem to be wrapped up in the same swaddling dictatorship clothes, himself will tell himself: Trinbagonians like it so — no problem.
In other words, President Richards played a Trini game on Trinbagonians in that the President knows that Trinibagonians would rant and rage and even misbehave for a while but at the end of the day, they would accept the status quo. “We like it.”
Hence, it need occasion no great surprise that President Richards announced his decision and then proceeded to leave the country “in less than a New York minute” afterwards in the hope that when he returns from vacation things would back to normal — that’s how Trinis operate.
That’s exactly how dictatorship politics and pappyshow, congosa and mammaguy operate in T&T.
On one hand, Prime Minister Patrick Manning is not only completely convinced that workers in the country’s labor movement may rant and rage and even misbehave against the PNM administration today but also the salient fact that if he were to call general elections on 15 July 2009, these very same dejected, disgusted and disgruntled workers as in citizens would still vote for PNM — it’s that simple.
Patrick Manning continues to capitalize on the co-existence of political immaturity and those people electoral politics in T&T.
On the corresponding hand, President Richards is also capitalizing on this real co-existence. He is totally convinced that since Trinbagonians have been successfully “hoodwinked, bamboozled and took” by the PNM government for the past 53 years and counting, then, why change this political modus operandi. “We like it.”
In the final analysis, as long as political immaturity and those people electoral politics co-exist in T&T, then, the eradication of dictatorship politics and pappyshow in the Office of the Prime Minister and/or Office of the President “will remain but a fleeting illusion to be pursued but never attained” in T&T.
However, in the interim, please “do the right thing”, Mr. President — resign.
Dr. Kwame Nantambu is a part-time lecturer at Cipriani College of labour and Co-operative Studies and University of the West Indies.