So, Jack Warner has “resigned.”
Does the People’s Partnership government think this will mend the damage to T&T’s international image? Will it pacify those floating voters and remove the ammunition from Keith Rowley’s arsenal?
The Prime Minister needs to recognise, publicly, that this situation with Warner will run and run. This is an international issue. This is the time that Mrs Persad-Bissessar can either prove herself worthy of the position she currently enjoys or instead go down as an apologist for white collar opportunists.
Statecraft is a much sought after skill that not many acquire.
It’s not enough to escape a scandal by firing the Minister involved. Mrs Persad-Bissessar is ultimately responsible for her cabinet and it is not as if there were no warnings.
When Warner put himself forward for selection, did anyone in the UNC ask questions or conduct due diligence? Why didn’t the UNC executive tell Warner to settle the case with the 2006 World Cup players so that there would be no embarrassment to the party, or indeed, the government in the future?
Why was Warner not told to choose between football and politics? Couldn’t the UNC party mandarins see the future problems that it might cause?
And on we stumbled through the outrageous story of missing financial aid to Haiti’s earthquake victims, the Bin Hammam bribery saga and, of course, the 2018/22 World Cup vote that saw Warner smooching with Heads of State while placing “kick me” signs on the back of their jackets.
So, after all those warning signs, why should we believe that the Prime Minister was “stunned?”
She chose her political running mate and she chose to ignore statements by High Court judges, revelations in the newspapers, accusations by global sporting bodies and nearly forty calls for Warner’s resignation.
The CONCACAF report did not say “we think” or “there is a possibility” or “we are led to believe”; it said “Jack Warner committed fraud” on multiple occasions.
As a Prime Minister who campaigned on a platform of integrity and transparency, Persad-Bissessar must announce her government’s intolerance for unlawful activity, her deep shame regarding Warner’s behaviour and apologise to the country for her blind faith in him.
She should then announce that the T&T police, particularly the financial crimes unit, will launch a complete and thorough investigation into Warner’s affairs and that an Opposition member would be part of a three-person committee to review the findings.
Finally, she should state that her government would fully cooperate with the enquiry, which would set the tone for dealing with other white collar criminals in Trinidad and Tobago.
Because, if she does not, Warner will not fall from grace alone
Statecraft, Prime Minister. Be the leader you told us you would be. One who is strong on integrity and transparency and tough on corruption.
Or is your white collar not as white as you proclaim?