“The protection and promotion of our democracy and our dignity will depend on the positions we take and the resilience we display during this critical period in our nation’s history.”
These were the words of Tobago House of Assembly (THA)Chief Secretary Orville London, in his Independence Day message yesterday.
“The present issues facing the island and the country are not just the concern and the responsibility of the politicians, the interest groups and the more vocal members of the public.
“This is the time, in the midst of the crises that now beset our island and our country, for all of us to reflect on the words of the ‘Father of the Nation’ and to step up to the Independence plate.”
He said: “We, the politicians, are often prepared to ignore each other but we cannot afford to ignore the citizens, if they speak loudly enough and act decisively enough.
“The citizens of the country must therefore recognise that their resilience and fortitude are being tested at the national level, and the residents of Tobago must also accept that they need to respond appropriately, in the special Tobago circumstances.”
London said: “I do not need to remind my fellow Tobagonians of the decades-old struggle for self-government, nor of the efforts, over the past six months, to unite the political parties
and the various sectors, communities and individuals on the island, in making a persuasive and powerful case.
“The numerous meetings and consultations over the years have confirmed the consensus among Tobagonians that the ‘sovereign democratic state of Trinidad and Tobago must remain inviolate and united but that Tobago’s right to self-determination must be facilitated’.”
He said he was heartened by the responses of the participants at the consultations in Tobago and in Trinidad.
He said self-government for the island placed greater responsibility on the leaders and the residents, and the preparation process must continue.
He added: “However, we must be reminded that independence and self-government are more about the mindset of the people than about the condition of the place.
“This administration has provided and will continue to provide avenues for the personal development of residents in varied spheres of endeavour...but all Tobago-
nians must seize these opportunities and prepare themselves to contri-
bute more to their own development and the de-
velopment of our island.”
He noted also discussions have been initiated with Caribbean Airlines, in a bid to alleviate the “vexing problems experienced by passengers on the air bridge”.
“The frustrations of passengers on the sea bridge will also be addressed and
the assembly will continue to insist that it must be represented on the boards of the Port Authority and Caribbean Airlines,” London said.