Dickson Igwe, socio-political columnist

An entitled minority must never again be allowed to control Virgin Islands governance, politics, and society, without full citizen and resident participation.

Now, had full citizen participation been the governing culture for decades in the BVI, the country may have escaped where it is today: the negative narratives of a global media never ‘’in love’’ with offshore finance centers, and a Virgin Islands in the telescopic sights of its enemies and detractors everywhere.

Then, one reason the debate on greater autonomy and independence is going nowhere is that discussion of independence is not being fully introduced into the public square, apart from repeated assertions by talk show hosts and politicians on the need for greater autonomy, even Independence.

Independence can only ever happen when a two thirds majority votes for independence in a Referendum. The Virgin Islands is ‘’light years’’ away from that day.   No minority of citizens will decide independence.

No politician has yet to offer a clear vision of the Virgin Islands Post the granting of independence, how independence will be managed, and the when and how of an independence referendum.

And it is always a good thing when the mass of a country’s population is involved in the great issues and policy debates of the day.

Citizens must be in the know on what happens behind the closed doors of power at every point in time.  Then, before specific matters become dire, the ones who pull the levers of power are warned in time, through effective public feedback, before the leaders enter the place of no return.

The citizen is the best friend of good governance. His or her support and input is never to be taken lightly.

In the UK, Brexit was debated before the Brexit Referendum. Hence there is no one to blame for that decision as the people voted for Brexit even though by a slim margin.

Brexit should never have been decided on a simple majority of those voting, but by a two thirds majority vote as is the norm for referendums. However the powers that be pushed for the slim majority option. Today, Brexit is viewed as a disaster by most intelligent people.

Clearly, Citizen Participation offers a route out the cul-de-sac, when a government gets into trouble of its own making.

On the other hand, when a handful is in the know on matters of a pecuniary or sensitive nature, with no scrutiny, there is temptation to keep matters hidden from Joe Public. The preceding is never a good idea, no matter how secret the issue needs to be.

Transparency is always a plus in governance for the simple reason transparency fosters trust in government. When public trust disappears in a democracy governing becomes difficult, if not impossible.

Now the recent intervention in matters of state in the British Virgin Islands by UK High Officials showed the efficacy of checks and balances, and public oversight.

An unchecked executive- the Cabinet in the case of the BVI- easily falls into abuse of power. Human beings by nature crave power, and power that is left unchecked corrupts.

The Commission of Inquiry shows that executive oversight is working in the case of the BVI. Checks and balances are good for residents and taxpayers.

Imagine the UK Commission Inquiry was not introduced at this time. Then matters may have gotten even worse in the management of the financial affairs of the Virgin Islands, and down the road.

In the USA, Donald Trump was stopped in his tracks from overthrowing the legitimate, legal, and institutional powers, of Congress, Law Enforcement, and the Supreme Court, through a constitution that was airtight and very difficult to bypass and ignore, even by a rogue president.

The report of the Commission of Inquiry after the Commission ends its investigations and enquiries will be quasi constitutional.  It will be a powerful document that will lead to better governance by pointing out areas in BVI governance that require greater scrutiny and oversight.

The report will provide a path to the future in the absence of clear guidelines and parameters in the management of public resources.

It is unfortunate that matters reached a stage where a Commission of Inquiry became necessary.

However residents of the Virgin Islands must look at this Enquiry as an opportunity to get things right in a world that is growing more complex and dangerous for small countries.

The Good news is that the Virgin Islands continue to sit at the top globally, for being a safe and pristine travel destination.

It will indeed be a pity if we allowed alleged corruption and criminality to spoil what is an excellent travel brand.

Consequently, the Commission of Inquiry is a very good thing at this time. 

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