Professor Hamid Ghany, political scientist and Professor of Constitutional Affairs and Parliamentary Studies at The University of the West Indies, St Augustine.

Political scientist Professor Hamid Ghany says the Government ought to listen to the views of Tobagonians on the way forward, to solve the current impasse in the Tobago House of Assembly (THA).

Cabinet will be looking at two draft amendments to rectify the deadlock.  

The first proposed amendment would grant one person the authority to break future deadlocks, and the second would seek to change the number of seats from the current 12.  

However, Professor Ghany told CNC3’s The Morning Brew that government ought to get the views of Tobagonians because the island often feels like a disadvantaged partner in the T&T union.

And if they feel like Trinidad is attempting to dictate Tobago affairs then, Dr Ghany says, it may have negative effects for the government.

“The backlash to this is a rise of Tobago nationalism,” Professor Ghany warns.  “Is the solution being proposed one that people on the ground are going to embrace?  Is it that they are going to see Trinidad steamrolling its own solution to the process?  That Trinidad is just going to shove it down Tobago’s throat?”

Meanwhile, Professor Ghany said if the proposal by Farley Augustine—deputy political leader of the Progressive Democratic Patriots (PDP)—for a federal arrangement happens, then it would open the floodgates in Trinidad.

According to the political scientist, if regional corporations in Trinidad see that the THA gets to run its own affairs, they too will want that independence from Central Government.

Part of the logic of the arrangement is that if the island of Tobago gets full internal self-government, someone will come with the argument and ask whether Trinidad should be freed of the Central Government and have a federal arrangement,” Professor Ghany explains.

The political scientist also points out that the move to change the number of seats to an odd number may be only a temporary fix, as an independent candidate can win a seat and the island would find itself back in a deadlock.