The Tobago House of Assembly (THA) intends to embark on a series of strategies to put the issue of internal self government for Tobago on the national agenda, Chief Secretary Orville London said on Thursday night. (13th February 2014)
“I want us to put it back on the agenda as a Tobago thing. It must be on the agenda as a Tobago people thing,” he said. Alluding to statements by opposing politicians that the issue was dead, London asked: “Are you as Tobagonians going to allow this situation to die.”
London was speaking at the 11th Face to Face community meeting at the Plymouth Community Centre in the Assembly’s democratisation process following the January 21 2013 elections in which the PNM won all 12 districts.
He said he was very heartened by the attendance of the political leaders Ashworth Jack of the Tobago Organisation of the People, Hochoy Charles of the Tobago Platform of Truth and chairman of the Tobago Council of the PNM Neil Wilson the meeting to discuss internal self government for Tobago.
The Chief Secretary who chaired that meeting said another was scheduled for February 20 and hoped that it would be convenient for Jack. However, he added, regardless of whatever happened the people of Tobago had a responsibility to keep the issue on the front burner and to ensure that it was resolved within the year.
He noted that the timing was right since a general election was due next year and the two Tobago seats would be critical to whichever party won.
“This is not a THA election. If we send a signal to both parties that if you don’t deal with this Tobago House of Assembly review you will get punish in the 2015 election. I am telling you as a politician and as good politicians they would have to respond,” London said.
London added: “If the people of Tobago remain quiet in this run up to the 2015 election they will be sending a signal to whosoever wins, it is either it is not important enough for them or they don’t have enough spine so therefore they can be ignored, it is up to us.
“I am saying that there would not be a better time than now for Tobagonians to stand up and fight and make a stand for internal self government.”
He said the leaders were hoping for a situation where there was agreement on what they considered non negotiable demands of the people of Tobago and use that to determine what was the kind of Act or the kind of Bill that Tobago was going to have.
He said he did not have a problem with anybody having a forum or discussion because anything added to the process would be welcomed.
He said there was nobody better able to lead the process than the Chief Secretary himself because that was one of his mandates.