Listen to Mohammed’s message, not the messenger

By Dr. Kwame Nantambu
March 30, 2011

Dr. Kwame NantambuIt 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…

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 the Maha Sabba organization headed by Sat Maharaj has received its worthy government subvention from the PP government compared to the pittance it has received from the PNM over the umpteen years.

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

— 99% of the prison 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, bank managers, dentists, accountants, economists, business owners, developers, etc) in T&T are East Indians/Syrians.

— 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.

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”).

7 Responses to “Listen to Mohammed’s message, not the messenger”


  • PM vows to hold T&T together
    Legal advice was being sought last night on the possibility of moves to terminate the appointment of chairman of the Police Service Commission Nizam Mohammed.

    Kamla: Hard decisions needed on Nizam issue
    “HARD decisions sometimes need to be taken, and this will be done in the interest of preserving social cohesion,” Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar said yesterday as she responded to questions about the controversy surrounding Police Service Commission (PSC) chairman Nizam Mohammed’s statement of ethnic imbalances in the police service.

    Kamla Goes to Max
    Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar says the decision to remove Police Service Commission (PSC) chairman Nizam Mohammed is now in the hands of President George Maxwell Richards.

    Rowley renews call for Nizam’s removal

    Rowley: Richards must revoke appointment

    Panday: Nizam fell prey to racist reporters
    Former prime minister Basdeo Panday says the media have a habit of misleading the public to suit their own interests and the chairman of the Police Service Commission Nizam Mohammed may have fallen prey to “racist” reporters.

    Natuc head: Ethnic imbalance in other areas too

    NATUC: Let’s have dialogue
    THE NATIONAL Trade Union Centre (NATUC) is calling for national dialogue on the merits and demerits of the statements made by Police Service Commission (PSC) chairman Nizam Mohammed of a racial imbalance in the Police Service, during a Joint Select Committee meeting in the Parliament, last week.

    Labour Minister: Nizam in same ‘prison’ as Cro Cro
    “On behalf of the MSJ, I condemn and dismiss the utterances of the chairman of the Police Service Commission, Nizam Mohammed, and all of the views that are supportive of the commissioner,” McLeod told members of the media at a National Credit Union Sector Stakeholder Consultation at the Hyatt Regency hotel in Port of Spain.

    Mohammed’s statement ‘is utter foolishness’
    “Over the years, East Indians would come through the service, but a number of them left before time, having secured more lucrative professions,” Bruce said. Bruce said there have been several East Indian officers, among them Dyo Mohammed, Farouk Ali, Nadir Khan and Noor Kenny Mohammed, who have also reached top levels within the service.

    Very unfortunate, says TOP leader

    PSC picks Richardson for Deputy CoP
    MERVYN RICHARDSON has been nominated by the Police Service Commission (PSC) to become this country’s new Deputy Commissioner of Police.

  • Let’s ponder on these two sayings:
    “It is not what you say, it is how you say it” and
    “There is a time and place for everything”

    One headline screamed: Too many Africans in the Police Service
    Were these the actual words of Mr. Mohammed? or was it the reporters’s interpretation of what he had said?

    The numbers presented reflects an imbalance but then there should have been an investigation to determine why and then maybe Mr. Mohammed would have seen the matter in a different light.

    Nevertheless, this is an opportunity for the current administration to tread carefully to ensure that the perceived mistakes of this nature which were made in the past does not continue under its watch. Maybe we could dust off the EQUAL OPPORTUNITY PROPOSALS and see whether there are guidelines on how we should proceed.

  • In reference to By Dr. Kwame Nantambu’s “Listen to Mohammad’s message, not the messenger” article, I have some questions to put forward:
    Why didn’t Mr. Nizam Mohammed as chairman of the PSC made it quite clear that he was only relaying the ethnic composition of TTPS leadership in a “STATISTICAL FORMAT” which had been provided to him by the Commissioner of Police in his report to the Director of Personnel Administration, Service Commission Department in the first place?
    Why didn’t Mr. Nizam Mohammed as chairman of the PSC treat this message with the uppermost sensitivity?
    So Dr. Kwame Nantambu’s case is clearly weak in his defense of Mr. Nizam Mohammed’s clear racist remarks, using the academia approach to do so.
    Mr. Nizam Mohammed should be made to suffer the consequences of being a “racist” East Indian and also for making such unacceptably “racist” statements of the TTPS, by the black population of Trinidad & Tobago. “End of story!”

  • This Dr. Kwame Nantambu, obviously as dense as a bag of hammers, appears by his name at least, to be of African heritage.

    If he is, he unfortunately reminds me of an African proverb that when the trees saw the axe coming into the forest, some of trhem said, “it’s ok, the handle is one of us.”

  • Nizam ignores calls to resign
    Chairman of the Police Service Commission Nizam Mohammed says he is not about to resign in the wake of public calls for him to do so. “I am not going anywhere…The work of the commission continues and I intend to carry on with my work,” he said.

    Max’s hands tied
    President George Maxwell Richards has no legal grounds by which to remove chairman of the Police Service Commission (PSC) Nizam Mohammed, according to Mohammed’s legal representative, Senior Counsel Israel Khan.

    Former DCP slams ‘insensitive statements’
    Retired deputy commissioner of police Maurice Piggott says statements made by Police Service Commission (PSC) chairman Nizam Mohammed were “ill-timed and somewhat insensitive”.

    Satnarayan Maharaj: Nizam was right

    Senior cops renew calls for Nizam to go

    Officers claimed race bias in 2006 case
    Police Service Commission chairman Nizam Mohammed’s contentious claim last week of a ethnic imbalance in the most senior ranks of the Police Service, was not the first time the race talk was raised. Five years ago, then civil attorney Anand Ramlogan, now Attorney General, filed a lawsuit on behalf of seven high ranking police officers who granted an injunction blocking then commissioner of police Trevor Paul from using a promotion process that bypassed them.

    What’s to become of PSC after Nizam’s statement?
    Smarting from the continuing criticisms over what has been widely interpreted as a violation of his position of trust as Chairman of the Police Service Commission (having driven past two police officers who instructed him not to turn unto Henry Street) Nizam Mohammed has raised the race card in a very vulgar and irresponsible manner.

    Kenneth Lalla: In the shadow of the promotion board
    When I was appointed chairman of the Police Service Commission (PSC) in 1990, I discovered that one of the most formidable issues confronting the police service was promotion of police officers in the Second Division.

    Govt committed to racial equality, says Kamla

  • What do you mean, Senior Counsel Israel Khan, by you statement that the President of Trinidad and Tobago has no legal grounds to remove Nizam Mohammad? President George Maxwell is the President of The Republic of Trinidad and Tobago and he does have every legal grounds and all power invested in him to remove Nizam Mohammad at his discretion. The fact that Nizam Mohammad is resisting resignation clearly proves my point; “he is a racist” and because of his stance and arrogant determination to play “the Whiteman,” he should now be removed from his post as Chairman of the PSC (Police Service Commission).

  • Thank you Dr Kwame for your perspective on the issue. However, I must remind you as per the media reporting on Mr. Mohammed’s statement, he said, “Their is an imbalance in the Executive of the police service and with the assistance of the Parliament they will fix that” If this statement as report is correct, then your cstory has no credence. He was not a messenger as far as that statement goes. He is party to a bigger force.

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