By FRED LIVERMORE
This article will examine the above – mentioned topic, enemies of the State or assets to the State, and scrutinize the nature, scope and expansion of the so-called enemies of the state or assets in Trinidad and Tobago, and whether these enemies are internal or external. In a global world, the definition of enemies of the goes way deeper than just the word, treason as the occupiers of high offices have also used and benefitted surreptitiously from the proceeds of skillfully concealed white-collar criminal activities, which are detrimental to any State.
Ethiopian Prime Minister – Leadership Skills and Policies in 18 Months and Nobel Prize!
But first, let us look briefly at the leadership policies and diplomatic measures of Ethiopia’s Prime Minister, Dr. Abiy Ahmed since his ascension to office in April 2018. At the young age of 43, Dr. Ahmed who holds a doctoral degree from Addis Abba University in peace and security studies won the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of his efforts to end his country’s border conflict with Eritrea. Ethiopia is Africa’s second-most populous nation, with about 110 million people.
He won the Nobel Peace Prize just after being only 18 months in office. What an achievement! The Nobel Prize Committee also praised “the important reforms” that Abiy has launched in Ethiopia since becoming Prime Minister 18 months ago. By choosing him, the Nobel committee showed its desire to give the award to individuals whose efforts need encouragement. In a call with the Nobel committee, he explained his hope that the award would influence other African leaders “to work on (the) peacebuilding process on our continent.”
Dealing with Reality/ Statesman of the highest calibre
In addition, Abiy Ahmed took office after large protests pressured the old ruling coalition and hurt one of the world’s fastest growing economies. Africa’s youngest leader quickly announced extensive reforms. He surprised people by accepting a peace deal ending a 20-year border war between Ethiopia and Eritrea. Tens of thousands of people died in the conflict.
The two East African nations had not had diplomatic ties since the war began in 1998. Abiy once fought in a town that remained disputed at the time he accepted the peace deal. Within weeks, the President of Eritrea, Isaias Afwerki, visited the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa. Communications and transport links were re-established. Families that had been divided for 20 years were reunited. The improving relations led the United Nations to remove sanctions on Eritrea.
The Nobel committee pointed to Abiy’s other diplomatic efforts in East Africa. He has tried to ease tensions between Eritrea and Djibouti and between Kenya and Somalia. He has also reached out to different sides in Sudan. At home, the new Prime Minister offered one political surprise after another. He released tens of thousands of prisoners and welcomed home once banned political groups. He also announced that Ethiopia would hold free and fair elections in 2020.
Effective human rights policies and transparent governance at home
For the first time, the country had no journalists in prison, media groups noted last year. Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s Nobel Peace Prize indicates his critical role in building long-term peace in the war-torn Horn of Africa region. He has made important breakthroughs in deeply protracted conflicts, although much remains to be done to institutionalize and sustain these endeavours. Some critics have asked if this recognition came too early, as the 43-year-old Abiy has been Prime Minister for only 18 months. The award recognized Abiy’s “efforts to achieve peace and international cooperation, and in particular his decisive initiative to resolve the border conflict with neighbouring Eritrea”, said Berit Reiss-Andersen, the Norwegian Nobel committee’s chair.
Prime Minister Abiy has also pushed through reforms at home, dramatically changing the atmosphere in what was regarded as a repressive state. His public renunciation of past abuses drew a line between his administration and those of his predecessors, as did the appointment of former dissidents and large numbers of women to senior roles. Is Prime Minister Abiy an asset to the state of Ethiopia or is he an enemy? Certainly, in the eyes of the regional and international community he is a hero, and for his Ethiopian people, he is a proactive, diplomatic and statesman-like Prime Minister who really cares about his people.
Prime Minister Rowley and Trinidad and Tobago
In comparison to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s achievements in eighteen months, nationally, regionally and internationally, Prime Minister, Dr. Keith Rowley’s term of office can be best described as extremely disappointing and one of dismal failure when it comes to governance of security and the economy. To be honest, both human security and economic innovation must be given ungraded marks, as not only were billions of dollars allocated to national security and the economy, but there were no tangible results to a disoriented population.
One of Prime Minister Rowley’s colossal failures over these past four years was not to have met with this entire diverse population in Trinidad and Tobago. Rather, PM Rowley appears to have selectively chosen areas of the country where he knows he may have political support.
Not a diplomat or statesman of the ilk of Prime Minister Ahmed, his registered concerns over the hurricane destruction in Dominica and the Bahamas, maybe remembered by a few, as well as helping some 16,000 Venezuelans to be registered in Trinidad and Tobago. But this latest humanitarian salvo comes only after the direct intervention of the Vatican and the Catholic Church’s concerns for its people, placing public and political pressure on the Rowley government.
With respect to being an asset to Trinidad and Tobago, it is hard to place Dr. Rowley as an asset in leadership and governance. How many of his selected Cabinet members have directly and indirectly benefitted from the largesse of Cabinet positions and contracts? Would this level of white-collar criminal entrepreneurial skills, be classified as becoming an enemy of the state?
Ministries, High Officials and Supplementary Income!
A very robust examination of all Cabinet ministries and Regional Corporations would reveal in many ways how government officials use their offices to compromise their ministries, positions, offices for lucrative gains on the outside. For instance, the Minister of Works & Transport speaks about eradicating corruption within the Licensing Division.
And yet many nationals of Trinidad and Tobago can barely read or write, cannot pass the written examinations but are in possession of a Drivers’ Licence and it is happening across the country. How does the Minister account for all the Chinese and Spanish nationals, who are clueless when it comes to the English Language, suddenly having licences without ever visiting the Licence office or even writing an examination? As I write it continues to take place at your licensing offices across the country.
Town and Country Planning
There exists a similar situation for members seeking approvals for building plans. You have to know someone from the inside, who is operating an office on the outside to assist – of course for a fee to draw plans and then have them approved by the said person. You think it easy here! How do you call that person, an asset to the state or an enemy of the state?
Customs and Immigration
What will you say about some of the present-day multimillionaire Customs and Immigration officials? Were they left wealth by their relatives? Nationals and foreigners will have a lot to say about how the officials obtained the palatial mansions and sports utility vehicles, whilst compromising national security? Are these enemies of the State or assets to the State?
TTPS and Defence Force
Many of the members of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service and the Defence Force augment their monthly salaries by their complicity, condonation and active involvement in transnational organized crimes, be it drug smuggling, illegal weapons, human smuggling and human trafficking. How will you call them, enemies of the State, or assets to the State? For this reason and more, Commissioner of Police, Gary Griffith, a rare find and one who is firmly committed to the transformation of the Police Service, continues to receive opposition from within and without.
There are many who would seek to put him down and be very envious and jealous as he is a very determined, and innovative Commissioner despite all the challenges he has had to confront. To a great degree, the Commissioner acts as a de facto Minister with his creative policies and implementation on getting the job done. Stuart Young is not anywhere close to Gary’s work ethic. Gary is a committed asset to the State, but he is surrounded by enemies of the State.
40 Multimillionaire Businessmen & Transnational Organized Crimes
Finally, some time ago the Sunday Guardian carried an expose of 40 plus multimillionaire businessmen allegedly involved in transnational organized crimes, whilst masking and marinating their illicit proceeds into legitimate businesses. With the recent murder assassination that occurred in Rancho Quemado, Erin, one of these well-known national and underworld businessmen with ton loads of fronts across this country was once a close companion of Robert Mendoza.
Whilst people may remain tight-lipped, this man may have connections with ministers in past and present governments. The intelligence agencies have been looking at him for a very long time, but his powerful connections at all levels seemed to make him untouchable. At present, and according to the Thursday Guardian report, the alleged businessman has government contracts and uses his trucks to carry about more than the garbage he is consistent moves in high places under different aliases.
Is this businessman an enemy of the State or an asset to the State? When Venezuelan nationals consistently penetrate our borders and sovereignty conducting illicit activities with our nationals, who is the enemy to the State?
In conclusion, in our society, it is extremely difficult to ascertain who can be classified as an “enemy of the state, even if they are termed as “cockroaches”, whilst allegedly involved in gang warfare, these alleged “cockroaches”, now called “enemies of the state” may be found in high ministerial offices as well bureaucratic officials, along with those questionable businesses in the private sector which fully co-operates with them for hefty financial remunerations. Such is life in Trinidad and Tobago.