Above: Tobago (CJ Photo)
By the Caribbean Journal staff
Is it time for self-government in Tobago?
It’s a question that has long been on the mind of many residents, and one that Chief Secretary of the Tobago House of Assembly Orville London says remains a “burning issue.”
London said this week that Tobagonians “regardless of political persuasions,” have given a mandate to undertake “all proper and necessary steps to achieve and secure democratic self-government for Tobago in the shortest time possible.”
“This clearly suggests that Tobagonians are united in the call for self-determination,” London said. “That this is no longer a narrow political issue but is now one issue that has transcended political lines and has rightfully evolved into an issue which unifies all of Tobago.”
London’s address to the Eighth Annual Tobago Economic and Business Outlook Conference at the Magdalena Grand resort came a few weeks after a high-level meeting between London and Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar.
At that meeting, London said the Prime Minister “gave her commitment to take to Cabinet Tobago’s recommendations for advancing the process of internal self-government for Tobago,” according to a statement from the Tobago House of Assembly.
“I am confident that we will achieve self-government in the not too distant future,” he said. “We must be prepared to treat with the new challenges that come with increased autonomy. I am sure that all of us are aware that greater autonomy demands that, as Tobagonians, we exercise even greater responsibility, and that is why we cannot be mere spectators in the development of the island.”
It should be noted that self-government does not mean independence, but rather a form of autonomy within the twin-island country’s government.
“Greater autonomy means that we must become self-reliant and strive to take charge and be in charge of our island’s development,” London said. “All our attempts at economic transformation and development could be significantly compromised if, as a people we do not improve our work ethic and become more productive citizens; if we do not play our role in keeping Tobago clean, green, safe and serene; if we do not embrace the myriad opportunities available on the island.”