The independence Day message by Dr. Ahamad Jeffrey Khan, leader of the Organization of Independent Candidates.
For the past two decades, our beloved country, Trinidad and Tobago has been bereft of visionary and principled leadership. Recalling the names of our Founding Fathers - Dr. Eric Williams, George Chambers, ANR Robinson, Basdeo Panday - we lament the poor, contemporary examples of mis-leadership, lack of transparency, callousness and accountability that has blighted our nation. The dearth of inspirational politicians, adorned by the attitude of humility in service to the people to provide examples to the youth in particular has the population languishing in a malaise of mediocrity, no longer confidently striving for excellence and development.
Modern Caribbean politicians, with precious few exceptions, have lost sight of the fact that democracy can never work in name only. Democracy is always the government for, by and of the people; government with the consent and participation of the governed; the rule of the majority with respect for the rights of the minority.
The failure of recent regimes or political administrations in this country - be they PNM or UNC - to even attempt, far less unite the people of Trinidad and Tobago, has propelled the formation of The Organization of Independent Candidates (OIC). Anyone offering himself or herself to lead this rainbow country, must first know how to serve all of the people selflessly. They must truly understand that regardless of the country of origin of our forefathers, the religions we practice, our ethnicity, social class or gender, whether we live in Laventille, Penal, Goodwood Park or Palmiste, we are ALL citizens of this country and as PATRIOTS, we have a duty to love and respect, to defend and protect the honor and integrity of T&T.
Sadly, our successive governments have failed to use the natural patrimony of our country, oil and natural gas, to diversify the economy and place our most valuable resource, the human resources of the country at the center of development. Since national independence in 1962 to Republican status, we have learned to embrace the concept of unity in diversity by celebrating the spiritual and cultural heritages of the many streams which constitute the human river of civilization that flows from T&T into the Caribbean Sea and the oceans of humanity. We have NOT however learned or re-learned to respect our elders, women and children. Those in authority have not learned to respect themselves, far less the poor and working people of the nation.
The OIC sees a brilliant future for Trinidad and Tobago, with more harmonious and respectful relations among people, a better quality of life and standard of living, creating conditions to disincentives crime and corruption; but only when ALL the people experience equal opportunity for ALL of us and are encouraged to participate in governance and responsible expression of opinions; not just once every five years but regularly through referenda and plebiscites. Education can not be limited to school. It begins at home. But if children are making children, we are witnessing the deterioration of our society from Extended Families to Nuclear Families to SIngle Parent Families to Barrel Families. Values of Truth and Honesty, Virtue and Compassion, Respect and Righteousness, Peace and Non-Violence must be modeled and not just mouthed by our leaders. Scamps, rapscallions and miscreants cannot be respected simply because they have money or have procured wealth as ill-gotten gains. Those who sacrifice for the betterment of their neighbors, for the less fortunate and the most vulnerable, the cleanliness and sustainability of the environment, non contaminating and renewable energy and decent, meaningful work for a dignified living wage, means that every citizen and resident of this country can benefit from its bounty and not have to survive in squalor, poverty and degradation. If we do not introduce changes NOW, we cannot foresee a bright future for our country.
For this to occur, each community must have a modern LIBRARY, with facilities to allow for continuous childhood and adult education, equipped with WIFI and for children, supervised access to the internet. Finance, in the form of soft loans must be provided to entrepreneurs and small and micro enterprises to competitively promote production of goods and services for both the domestic market and for regional international export.
From this day till the next general election, members of the OIC and I will be campaigning throughout the length and breadth of Trinidad and Tobago, to positively transform this nation and the Caribbean to support and be supported by its inhabitants with a life of good health and prosperity for generations to come. You may ask why an Organization of Independent Candidates? The answer is that we can never take the peoples’ support for granted. Even when elected to public office, we will be candidates for the people’s franchise; it is the people who have the power to elect and remove those who betray or squander their constituents’ support.
For our elders, our senior citizens, who have contributed throughout their lives for the freedom and independence that we take for granted, we must adjust their pensions to be aligned with the minimum wage and linked to meet their needs according to inflation and the cost of living. It cannot remain stagnant so that having sacrificed to build the country they must now live their final years in misery and wretched poverty. For all with eyes to see and ears to hear, this policy is for everyone’s enlightened self-interest, for unless we die young, we will all grow old.
For the youth, we must create a country where opportunities are abound and where talent is rewarded and they are not forced to migrate in search of economic opportunities or political freedoms. Our creative genius and the youth involved in steel bands, tassa and mas must be cooperatively clustered to be globally competitive.
The tribes who came to these shored from Europe, Africa and the Middle East and encountered the First Nations are still being forged from the love of liberty into a nation where an equal place can be secured by all. In the coming months, I look forward to meeting and engaging in debates with those who have mismanaged and squandered assets of this country and will work with you, tapping your ideas and genius, to make Trinidad and Tobago the gem of the Caribbean and a haven for all who cherish freedom and development. We are searching for 40 good men and women; not professional polytricksters, but honest and competent, conscientious women and men devoted to service, for for themselves but for the well being of this nation and ALL its inhabitants. Look out for us. This is not simply a speech of flowery rhetoric, this is a call to action for all parties.
In closing, we must all strive for “Politics with principle; Business with ethics and morality; science with humanity and education with character. These policies are not only useful but absolutely essential”
I, and the OIC wish everyone a happy, safe and blessed Independence Day and say to you, be not disenchanted for the best days are yet ahead!