Dickson Igwe, socio-political columnist

There will be no greater autonomy or independence until UK Overseas Territory residents trust local government

Ok. Recent Crises in Overseas territory Governance in the Turks and Caicos, and elsewhere, will drive the idea of independence off the map for a generation.

Why: because for all the talk of greater transparency, accountability, and government by citizen participation by OT politicians, residents of Overseas Territories of the UK are wise enough to observe that the preceding is usually talk, and the release of hot air from the proverbial hot air balloon, by their politicians.

In fact, the reality is that when political parties in OTs win power the opposite takes place.

And one reason OT voters do not want greater autonomy from the UK, is the simple fact that residents want oversight of their politicians, and for very good reason.

Reasons OT residents want better oversight include the following: unaccountable governance through unelected people who call the shots from behind the scenes and who actually have huge sway over the public services and staffing of OT governments. 

Then there is the victimization of public officers, especially the honest ones, who refuse to be coerced into doing the bidding of the corrupt politician and his hangers on.

On the other hand the dishonest public officer, who will turn a blind eye, and the face away from seeing what is clearly wrong, is promoted and placed in key and sensitive positions to oversee the misrule of Jack the rogue politician.

All the talk of accountability, citizen participation, and love of the people, is frequently a charade: the proverbial smokescreen to blind the seemingly ‘’naive public’’ of what is actually taking place in the secret caves and coves, about the islands. But the public is far from naïve and blinded.

The fact is corrupt governance is the governing culture in much of the Caribbean, even the world. The OT is not to be singled out.

However, that is no excuse for the continuation of a culture of conflict of interest, corruption, and interference in governing institutions designed to protect the public from misrule. 

If islands in the Caribbean are to reach El Dorado then honest governance is not an option; it is a critical requirement.

Photo courtesy Ishan, Unsplash

The simple fact is that after decades of independence and autonomy, in most of the Caribbean, the physical infrastructure never changes for the better, people continue to suffer poverty and social decline, and one will have to scratch the proverbial head to see where the billions of dollars in revenue have been spent. 

Now, all who bother to read this Old Boys Tales know that he has for nearly a decade been an advocate of independence and greater autonomy for OTs.

And Like most Black UK Citizens he is the first to acknowledge that the UK like other majority white societies remains racist and prejudiced, even though there is a clear effort today by these countries to become multicultural, inclusive, and accepting of minorities.

However, recent events in specific OTs have placed him firmly against any move towards greater autonomy or independence. Why: because until there is clear oversight of the executive branches of government, and effective checks and balances on the executive branch, such as a truly independent judiciary, and a native governor with real power and constitutional teeth fully responsible for national security and the public service, there will be no good governance.

The last thing an independent Caribbean Island needs is a dictator type at the helm, surrounded by henchmen and cronies

The sad fact is that the Caribbean islands where there is true constitutional oversight, such as those of the UK and the European Union, these remain the islands with the highest living standards, the best quality of life, and the safest streets. 

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