THA Chief Secretary Orville London has warned Tobagonians that the future of Tobago and Tobagonians for generations to come will be decided in the next six months.
Saying that he was making no apologies for saying this, London added: “How it is going to decide will not depend on the politician, it is going to depend on the people of Tobago and the signal that are sent to us politicians”
He said if the people of Tobago signalled to politicians that they were prepared to allow their rights to be trampled upon and the politicians said not in Tobago then all politicians on both sides of the pond will behave themselves.
The Chief Secretary was speaking at the Meet the Communities meeting at Glen Road, Scarborough when he also urged Tobagonians to take their politicians to task and to ask the hard question but also to make the recommendation.
London said the people of Tobago ran the risk of being overwhelmed and the only thing that protected them from that kind of situation where they can be trampled upon was the institution called the Tobago House of Assembly and the powers enshrined in the THA Act of 1996.
“I am therefore saying to you, yes let us talk about the roads, yes let us talk about the drains and the bridges, yes let us talk about money for education, agriculture, enterprise development, but let us also understand that you cannot detach yourself that it is London and them worry,” he said.
London also urged his listeners to speak very freely and very frankly on any issue because this was going to be critical.
Responding to a question on whether the Central Government can over-ride decisions of the Assembly, the Chief Secretary said: “What we are talking about is respect for the law in a situation where you are dealing with amore powerful and a less powerful entity and I am saying that in a situation where you have a relationship between a more powerful and a less powerful entity, the less powerful only protection is the law”.
London stressed that once the THA has the autonomy by law to do what it believed was the right thing for Tobagonians in those areas over which the Assembly had responsibility, and whether the Central Government liked it or not as long as it was within the parameters of the agreement they have to swallow and take it and that was the point the Assembly was making.
“Once you have a situation where the Central Government can over-ride the THA Act at will you may as well scrap the Assembly, scrap the THA Act No 40 of 1996 and forget everything that we are doing. Forget everything in order to increase the power because I am saying to you even if we go through all this process and we have additional power for the Assembly and we operate on the premise that the Central Government can over-ride the THA in any circumstance, then what’s the point.
“What is the point asking for more power when you say the Central Government can over-ride the THA in any case? It just does not make sense and that is why I am saying and I want to reiterate what I said earlier, the next six months will determine whether Tobagonians are going to have the additional autonomy which they have been fighting for or whether by their own action or inaction they are going to revert to the old early days when you had county council,” London said.