Dickson Igwe, socio-political columnist

The road to Virgin Islands independence is a long and winding road that starts with public discussion, and debate, leading to a referendum, where two thirds of a territory’s citizens vote for independence.

But even before any type of independence, that there will be a move towards greater autonomy by Overseas Territories, and the consolidation of a Confederation of Independent Overseas Territories of the UK.

OTs must unite, in order to possess the type of power that unity alone can generate.

If residents vote for independence, then after independence is granted, there will need to be formed a Confederation of Independent Territories that will be led by two indigenes: a  Native Governor General, and a Native Super premier.  In other words independence must come in the form of a Confederation of Overseas Territories.

Both leaders of the Independent Confederation will be appointed by committees comprising representatives of all the OT Legislatures,  and an OT council of Premiers.

Independent Territories that are part of the Independent Confederation will be led, like today,  by a governor and a premier. The one difference: the governor will be a native of the islands appointed by a committee made up of all three arms of government: judiciary, legislature, and cabinet.

Now, British Overseas Territory Citizens,  including British Virgin Islands dwellers, appear skeptical of independence. This is fully understandable. Independence is a huge change in the status quo and calls for the political management of great matters of state: and the key questions on independence are these: what are the social and economic benefits of independence to Overseas Territory citizens? Will the quality of their lives improve or decline after independence?

Photo courtesy https://theconversation.com/

The first factor driving public skepticism is constitutional. Who will keep the executive arm of government in check in the absence of the Queen? How will the doctrine of separation of powers – a great centurion for keeping tyranny at bay- operate?

Then, will OT citizens be better off after independence? How will their new statuses as citizens of independent territories from Great Britain affect their global statuses. How powerful will the new independent territory passport be? How will independence impact the territory’s relations with the UN, USA, UK, European Union, and a host of global organizations such as the WTO- World Trade Organization?

A more common question asked: will a territory such as the British Virgin Islands be able to keep the US Dollar as its main currency? Who will guarantee the security of a newly independent territory with no current army or coast guard?

How will newly independent territories govern their external affairs. Independence will mean a seat in the United Nations; ambassadors to the USA, UK and European Union; and a string of ambassadors and embassies around the world. How will territories pool resources to ensure the viability of independence?

The preceding are all matters that must be discussed, addressed, and decided, before even a referendum can be held.

Any move towards independence will not be driven by commentators or individual politicians, but by a willing public after hearing the various arguments in a very public forum.

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