August 31, 2020 will mark the 58th anniversary since Trinidad and Tobago became an independent nation in the Commonwealth of Nations.

Trinidad and Tobago continue to languish as a truly independent nation both in terms of economic/development success, and also in terms of political maturity. I wish to paraphrase our country’s first Prime Minister Dr. Eric Williams that we have a nation on Independence Day, but a society is yet to be formed. Fifty eight years later this vision that Dr Williams shared remains an elusive dream.

The roads are in a dilapidated state, agriculture has gone to the doldrums, crime in all its creative incarnations continue to stalk the land unabated, water supplies to the whole nation remains a scarce commodity, foreign exchange is a non-no, the quality of debates in our Parliament focus principally on bacchanal and absurdities, and most recently the election campaign was not an educational exercise for our young people. Our politicians continue to lower the bar on every count of leadership. There are no models to emulate. Will there be hope and vision post Covid 19. It does not seem possible, with the mood of the leaders and the country. Imagine, one can hardly get a clean glass of water to take a Panadol, after billions of dollars have passed through our coffers.

We were prized as an unique nation in the world at the dawn of our Independence, as we seemed poised to take a leadership role in national development thrusts, but we fell down shortly afterwards, and the decline continues. Not even by strict discipline, would be able to discern the famous North Star.

Today in 2020, the Covid 19 pandemic has added a new dimension to our politics. And we are not sure whom do we believe at the Covid Press Conferences. There continues to be a great difference between state truth and the real truth. Too many divergent views. And the populace is yet to discern the truth that Christ spoke in Sermon of the Mount, and the politicians’ truth.

Look guys, it time more time that we get on with the true task of nation-building. We may have a vision, but we are very, very far from it.

The people of Trinidad and Tobago deserve more than what we are getting. Leadership is not about getting claps and banners floating around our airwaves. Leadership is about doing what is right. Our governors are not fulfilling the material or comfortable needs of the populace. More so, the ethical and civic needs of our people.

Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley in announcing his new Cabinet spoke about including the subject of Citizenship (Civic) in our educational curriculum, but would it make a difference when our elders and leaders opt to do otherwise. True citizenship will flow into reality, only when all of us join hands sincerely and truthfully to the wheels of mobility, integrity and honesty.

As a gift to the people of Trinidad and Tobago, the Minister of Finance in his coming Budget proposal should give the hundreds and probably thousands of citizens who still have the old $100.00 bill in hand, as for some reason or the other, the opportunity to redeem them. Press reports that in excess of $475 million dollars of the old denomination are still outstanding.

Mr. Minister, the population is of the view that you should revisit this issue and start another campaign for nationals to redeem the old hundred bills. You would be doing what is naturally right, and not what you think is right.

Happy Independence 2020

Paras Ramoutar, former councillor