Battle of the Patriots Heating up Tobago

The good, bad and ugly sides of the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) and its ruling Patriotic Democratic Party (PDP) reared their heads all at once last week by  an apparently simple administrative setback.

What seemed like a routine issue involving the delayed release of funds to a Tobago cultural group performing in New York,  was used by PDP Leader and Assembly Secretary Watson Duke to set the sister isle on fire, forcing the usually polite Farley Augustine to come out in full force and wet  down everybody with his powerful THA Chairman’s fire hose. 

Following a video by Duke posted on Facebook, accusing the THA of abandoning 27 folk performers in New York, USA, Augustine announced that Duke’s responsibilities as Deputy Chief Secretary would be reviewed.

Duke, in his role as  political  leader of the PDP, last week fired Augustine and two others—THA Health Secretary Faith B.Yisrael and Alicia Roberts-Patterson—as the party’s deputy political leaders.

One discerning PDP official who quickly identified that his incident was much more than a storm in the proverbial tea cup and moved with great hate to bring calm in the place was PDP Chairman Sean Nedd.

 “The aims of the party are bigger than the THA”, he stated in an interview with Leah Sorias of the Trinidad Guardian.

In a mood which was fraught with implied fears of the dangers present in this behaviour of the THA and the PDP – combined with and the already fragile relationship between the two island states at this particular time – Nedd was understandably sombre.

“I would say we are all growing in this. This may not be a perfect response. The way in which this has gone has not been perfect, but this is something we can get past, as long as we stick to the core ideals of the party and we remember that we are all doing this in order to take care of the needs of the people,” he said.

Surely, he was being disingenuous when, as an experienced politician with hus nose on the ground when he told Sorias:

“Remember, this is all about making sure that our own Tobagonians don’t become hungry and starved and left on the streets in a foreign country. That is the background of all of this. The way in which it was dealt with could be left out there, but at the end, the Chief Secretary did act, our political leader did act and we did solve the problem,” Nedd stated.

It was with the same element of  concern that the very discerning TT Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley  time to make a short but profound response to Radio 103 FM at a Media Conference between his set of energy-promoting trips with Energy Minister Stuart Young and others to point out:

To the extent that any of these developments can negatively  on the ability of public officers to discharge their duties, then the government has an interest in ensuring that we keep an eye on that”. 

And while Innovative Democratic Alliance (IDA) political leader Dr Denise Tsoiafatt Angus has described as “a mystery” the details of the Roxborough Folk Performers’ recent visit to New York, Calypso Rose did not mince her words about how we can be adversely affected by the grand stand performances of Farley and Watson.

BEHAVE NAH. That’s what  Tobago-born Linda McCartha Monica Sandy-Lewis, or Calypso Rose as she is widely known, was reported as saying to Farley and Watson in an interview from New York with Newsday’s Yvonne Webb on September 15.  

Pointing out that “this political tug-of-war and power struggle between the two does not bode well for Tobago”, Rose said she was “ saddened” by what is playing out between Duke and Augustine. She called on them to seek God’s help to settle their differences.

“That infighting is not good for Tobago”.

Rose added: “Put down your arms, lift your eyes to the hills and ask the Lord to give you both health and strength to govern my beautiful Tobago, shining in the morning sun,” 

Using the garden metaphor which will reverberate strongly with Tobagonians who know how to live off the land, this proud queen of the soil advised:

“If the two have so much energy to burn, they should turn their energy to gardening.

“Put down the (verbal) arms. Take up the shovel and rake and go to the garden and plant food so the children could get fresh vegetables. Go out to sea and catch some fresh fish to feed the people.

“The soil good and ready for planting right now. We need food, we don’t need argument and fighting.”

So with all these voices and hands joining in the call for h forces of Tobago to solve this critical problem which can make or break to THA, it’s left to be seen if these two stubborn men can stop butting heads and come to some sort of accommodation for the benefit of all.

In this connection, we are pleased to repeat the call by Calypso Rose who shouted from New York:

BEHAVE NAH!

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