People’s National Movement (PNM) political leader Dr Keith Rowley told the people of Tobago he would address the issue of internal self-government for the island in the first six months of his tenure, once he is elected prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago.
The promise was made as Rowley spoke to a packed crowd of supporters at Mason Hall Secondary School on Saturday evening.
“The issue of Tobago’s self-government will be on the table in Trinidad and Tobago because it is a matter for the country. This will be undertaken in the Cabinet and in Port of Spain in the Parliament. In my first six months, once elected prime minister, PNM members will give full support of ensuring that where Tobago is now we move to a point where the exercise that has been done in Tobago, the consultations that have already been done, the draft that has already been taken to Parliament... that exercise has been wasted under the present Government and I do not expect them to treat with the report they have had for the past year,” said Rowley.
“So it appears as though it will fall on a PNM Cabinet to sit down and deal with those documents that came from the consultations in Tobago. This will be extending the commitment we gave in the beginning, in supporting the process and we will work the process into the Parliament for the country to accept.
“I will ensure that Tobago gets full internal self-government and it is a promise I intend to keep. Mr (ANR) Robinson championed the cause for full autonomy for Tobago and if we are to look at where we came from and where we want to go, don’t point your finger at the PNM. It was a PNM government that voted with Mr Robinson on the motion for internal self-government for Tobago, in the first Tobago House of Assembly (THA) elections. I know because my first appearance on a PNM platform was in the Tobago House of Assembly elections in 1980.”
Rowley then spoke about the implementation of marinas for Tobago; the expansion of the Cove eco and industrial park; the construction of a new ANR Robinson International Airport; and the implementation of a by-pass in Scarborough to help with the reduction of present traffic woes.
Speaking earlier, PNM deputy political leader and THA Chief Secretary Orville London called for unity to remain among the PNM and while the race for a new leader is ongoing, the PNM’s opponents must be looked at.
He said initially, when he came into the PNM, he was a negotiator, but today a different type of strategy is needed in the battle.
“This leader must be a manager, organiser, motivator and who is also a warrior. One of the reasons why I am here is when an opponent who does not play by the rules. This is a time to be firm, strong and let them understand that we ain’t taking that,” London said.
London noted he did not appear on Rowley’s platform as a matter of disrespect to rival Pennelope Beckles-Robinson, who is also his friend, and he phoned her before he attended the night’s meeting.
“In my conversation to her, I told her I appreciated her contribution. I am convinced that no matter the results of the election that she has a role to play in the development of Trinidad and Tobago.
“We in the PNM, while we are involved in this competition, must be proud we can put forward worthy candidates. This is an opportunity and a challenge and as PNM people we have to manage the process right. This process will test the maturity, the capacity and integrity in the party.
“I want to caution all of us that whosoever wins this internal election cannot win the general election with a fractured party, and all of us have to understand, that regardless of what happens over the next couple weeks, we have to ensure not only do we elect the best person to the leadership of the ‘A’ team, but after the election we have a united party in going forward.”
London said no one should do or say anything before the election about anybody that will make it difficult for them to market that person after the election.
“We are PNM during the election and we are PNM after the election,” London noted.
He condemned any statement by anybody which casts serious aspersions on the capacity of someone else. He said those who have made such statements should withdraw them immediately.