BVI News

COMMENTARY: 2019 elections the most important in decades

By Dickson Igwe, Contributor

The economy is front, centre and rear, of any disaster recovery effort post-hurricanes Irma and Maria.

Then the new government, after a 2019 General Election, must adopt a specific, and measured economic vision, spanning 10 to 30 years.

Effective strategic planning must drive this vision; add transparent, accountable, audited, compassionate, and equitable governance.

Politics in BVI has become volatile

Post-hurricanes Irma and Maria, the Virgin Islands political landscape is volatile and unpredictable. Irma devastated the visible and tangible, physical infrastructure.

The tragedies of September 2017 also smashed the invisible and intangible. Irma brought havoc to the economic, social, and political landscape. Irma turned the Virgin Islands upside down.

And with General Elections potentially months away, it is important voters and residents understand why a post-Irma General Election is the most important General Election in a generation.

The matter of disaster recovery will take up all of the time of a new government, post the next General Election. Voters and residents want to know which political party will best rebuild a devastated Virgin Islands.

Voters want a long-term strategic plan for these islands. Voters want visionary, transparent, and accountable governance. Voters want a better quality of life, and improved standard of living, that Irma ripped away from too many.

More people dying

And, the Virgin Islands lost both precious infrastructure, and even more, precious lives, as a result of the September 2017 disaster tragedies. The mortality rate post-Irma has risen dramatically.

A whole generation of Virgin Islanders and citizens is departing the islands to the great Beyond.

A number of these deaths must be stress related. It is very difficult for a man or woman in their retirement years, and in a matter of hours, lose everything they have worked for, over their whole span of life.

The proceeding is the first article in a series that will walk the voter and citizen into the next General Election which must be held before the end of 2019.

VIP has a fighting chance

Pre-September 2018, the National Democratic Party (NDP) had a lock on the districts. The governing party appeared to be coasting to a third term.

Post-Irma, that lock may have been smashed by a sledgehammer. The hurts and fears after the disaster, changed the political dynamic to one of volatility and unpredictability.

There was a backlash against the incumbents after the hurricane wreaked its havoc. This was not unexpected.

When people are hurting, a scapegoat is needed to feed their anger, disillusionment, and disappointment. The incumbent is easily blamed, as he and she has nowhere to hide.

However, a day is a long time in politics, and anything over four weeks is an eternity. In the political world, fortunes of politicians, and their parties, turn at the toss of a coin.

Recent mumblings, including the results of a recent and controversial survey, appear to have put some much-needed winds back into the sails of the NDP. However, that poll had encouraging news for the Virgin Islands Party too. The next general election remains winnable by both parties.

Recovery Agency

Then, there was the debate on the Disaster Recovery Agency.

Talk to any voter on the street, and it would appear that most voters are in support of UK oversight of disaster recovery.

Any politician against the idea of UK oversight is very brave indeed.

Add to the preceding, further mumblings of whether or not the Virgin Islands should go independent, or at the very least demand much greater autonomy.

A number of politicians are very vocal on the unacceptability of UK control of the territory.

However, once again, the man on the street appears to be quite happy with UK oversight of these Virgin Islands.

This writer believes that if a referendum were held on the matter of independence today, more than 90 percent of citizens will vote to remain citizens of an Overseas Territory of Great Britain.

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  1. Sam the man says:

    but what is the alternative to the “No Direction Party” ? is it just a case that we have to put up with their weakness, inability to progress things properly and lack of vision that they all show – the oldest to the youngest..?

  2. Baffled says:

    My dear Mr Igwe here is a news flash this election is no longer of relevance because the board is running the country for the next five years I think in the first instance. However we do need to get these people from position of leadership both sides have failed us.

  3. Albion says:

    We’ll see, but I think the next election will see politicians all changing parties like they change shirts, desperately clinging to any sniff of possible power. I expect it will all be highly unseemly, and we will end up being ruled by a coalition of the most avaricious politicians that can clump themselves together and call it a party.

    I hope I am wrong.

  4. WTF says:

    Anybody but ndp

  5. Slick says:

    Your boy Dickson Igwe loves to see his pic on every article.. no matter what the article is about

  6. Economics says:

    Until we have leaders that can enforce basic laws, manage our finances transparently and responsibly, and restore public confidence in our own government/society, I remain part of Igwe’s estimated 90% that want British Oversight and involvement.

    Do we have a visionary, ethical, and intelligent leader amongst us that might take us from Irma’s destruction to new prosperity? I certainly don’t see one, but encourage our electorate to discuss possible new leaders that might fit such criteria.

  7. Kylie says:

    From my observation the UK has good regards for the NDP. Members of the VIP do not have the same and realising the possibility of a VIP Gov in the near future of members with whom they are familiar it makes sense to put necessary constraints in place ahead of time. We should keep in mind that as a result of VIP and their lack of financial responsibility the controversial protocolls became necessary.

  8. E. Leonard says:

    Dickson, great discussion topic. The VI was thrusted into crisis by 2 Cat 5 catastrophic hurricanes, Irma and Maria, in September 2017, resulting in approximately $3.6B in damages to buildings, infrastructure, utilities, equipment……….etc. Rahm Emanuel, current Mayor of Chicago and former President Obama Chief of Staff is credited with: “Never let a good crisis go to waste.”

    The current BVI crisis presents an opportunity and may be a blessing in disguise to move forward bigger, better, improved…….etc. in a more progressive way. It must take advantage of this golden opportunity. The VI should/must take action to put the BVI in a better state than it was in prior to the decimation resulting from Hurricanes Irma and Maria. The recovery plan must be more than replacing things in like terms; it must improve things. As noted earlier, the VI is in crisis and needs a strong leadership team to lead it out of crisis.

    Voters will have the opportunity no later than 2019 to go to the polls to elect a government to lead it out of crisis. It needs a government with the vision, goals and objectives, strategies and tactics, and action to lead it out of crisis. That government could be the incumbent NDP, opposition VIP, PEP, UP, ABC, LMN, XYZ……..etc. This election may be an important election. However, I view every election as important. For example, If a government is performing well, voters still need to go the polls to reward the government with the opportunity to continue with the progress. On the other hand, if a government is under performing and not meeting expectaions, voters should/must go to the polls to effect a change. Citizens need to register to vote and vote; it is their constitutional right. Every vote counts. Bush-Gore 2000 and Trump-Clinton 2016 are clear examples of the value and importance of every vote.

    Moreover, on the campaign trail and during campaign season, the electorate must demand from parties/candidates 1)what are they going to do if elected, 2)what are their priorities, 3) what is not going to get done, 4) how are they going to pay for their legislative agenda, 5) what is their strategic action plan, 6) what are their commitment for transparency, accountability and responsibility, 7) their commitment to effective governance, 8)their commitment to focus on critical needs over want, 9) will current taxes be increased, 10) will new taxes be introduced, 11) what new economic pillars will be initiated …..etc.

    • Diplomat says:

      True, the listed issues are important and voters should demand answers to them during the campaign but too many voters vote their personal interest, not the public interest. Too many sacrifice the national interest for personal interest. They place short-term gain and benefit over the long-term national interest. There are allegations of white envelopes being passed around during election season. Nonetheless, I have not seen any evidence of this so it may be an urban legend.

      Voters putting personal interest over national interest is a problem up and down the Caribbean, especially in the former Anglophone countries. Here is a typical scenario. Party A is in power and its supporters say it is their time at the crease (to use a cricket analogy); we batting now as they say. Party A is not delivering but fearing that the tap may be turned off its supporters sits on their hands do not do anything. Eventually the tide turns and Party B is elected and the cycle repeats. Party B supporters want their time at the crease. Hopeless, hopeless, hopeless…………….

      Nothing will change, the territory will continue to stagnate, until the electorate express and demonstrate the willingness to put country first, hold elected and appointed officials accountable, demand transparency, accountability and responsibility; demand fiduciary responsibility, demand and expect good governance……….etc. Should the territory hold its collective breath? Well, we reap what we sow. The elders say you make your bed hard you lie in it hard. Our elders had/have wisdom.

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