Home / View Point / Guest Columns / Lead, or shut up! Raffique challenges Rowley to lift his game as T&T prime minister

Lead, or shut up! Raffique challenges Rowley to lift his game as T&T prime minister

I don’t know what plans he has for his vacation, but I strongly recommend to Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley that he spend all of it in solitary self-confinement seeking guidance from whatever deity or deities he believes in regarding his leadership capabilities.

I don’t care whether it’s an ashram, a monastery or Papa Neezer’s shrine, I honestly believe that Keithos can benefit from a mega-dose of divine intervention to help him determine whether he has what it takes to lead this cussed country out of the morass it has been mired in for decades.

Photo: PNM political leader Dr Keith Rowley (centre) gives his victory speech at Balisier House on 7 September 2015, flanked by his wife Sharon Rowley (right) and daughter Sonel. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: PNM political leader Dr Keith Rowley (centre) gives his victory speech at Balisier House on 7 September 2015, flanked by his wife Sharon Rowley (right) and daughter Sonel.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

By now, he must recognise that his leadership of the nation has fallen short of the expectations of most citizens. That after almost one year at the helm his Government has nothing tangible to show.

So much so that, if it continues in this mode, it would be stricken with rigor mortis and, rather than mark its anniversary with a celebration on September 7, it should hold a wake.

This Government has not cleaned a drain, fixed a pothole, installed a street light, brought water to the thirsty, reined in galloping crime, created new jobs, built or completed a new school…

The only thing it can boast of is that, thus far, none of its ministers or top officials has stolen from the public purse. And that might be more because the coffers are empty rather than any moral rectitude on their part.

To misuse a scientific term, the inertia in governance is explosive.

Look, those of us who are not sycophants of one brand or other know that Kamla Persad-Bissessar and her gang raped the country every which way and blew close to TT$300 billion in five years with precious little to show for it.

Photo: Former Sport Minister and Central FC chairman Brent Sancho (second from right) is flanked by ex-Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar (right) and former World Cup 2006 star and Central coach Stern John during the opening of the Irwin Park Sporting Complex in Siparia in 2015. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Former Sport Minister and Central FC chairman Brent Sancho (second from right) is flanked by ex-Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar (right) and former World Cup 2006 star and Central coach Stern John during the opening of the Irwin Park Sporting Complex in Siparia in 2015.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

They borrowed money to increase the public debt, and owed every dog and his brother more billions when they were booted out of office.

In fact, their abuse of power and misuse of money were what caused the electorate to kick them hard in their butts one year ago.

We also know that energy revenues fell precipitously since the PNM took office. For example, it dropped from TT$6.15 billion to TT$1.67 billion between October 2015 and January 2016—and possibly worse between February and July—rendering management of the economy a nightmare.

But you know what, Keithos? We are fed up hearing what Kamla and her gangsters did or did not do.

The only time you and your Cabinet colleagues should mention their names henceforth is to announce their arrests, detail the charges against them, and to tell us what cells they occupy in prison.

Failing that, I’ll say like CLR James used to: shut up!

While money is important to do most things a government needs to do, there are many more things that a good leader can say or do to inspire or motivate his or her people. Britain’s economy and its war machinery were inferior to Nazi Germany’s when Winston Churchill rallied his countrymen to make immense sacrifices, millions of lives included, to turn the tide and defeat Hitler.

Photo: Then Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley (second from left) and MP Donna Cox (centre) walk through Troumacaque, Laventille. (Copyright news.gov.tt)
Photo: Then Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley (second from left) and MP Donna Cox (centre) walk through Troumacaque, Laventille.
(Copyright news.gov.tt)

But to achieve such goals, one must lead by example—drive ordinary vehicles, eliminate lavish receptions, eat local and let people see you do that. And, most of all, ensure that you, your family and Cabinet colleagues are above reproach.

I know the ideals I’m setting out are tough on a people who have grown accustomed to living the good life. But if you want to change people’s work ethic, their lifestyles and adjust their expectations during harsh times, you must first change and adjust yours.

The motto at Sandhurst, the military academy where I was trained and from which I graduated exactly 50 years ago, is simply: “Serve to lead”.

What am I asking of the Prime Minister? Example one: runaway crime, especially murders, is of urgent and critical concern. Inspector Michael Seales, president of the representative association, is reported as saying to a call by Minister Edmund Dillon for an intensification of joint army-police patrols, we’ll cooperate—but pay us our money first.

In other words, your money or your life, which is preposterous, coming from a senior police officer.

Photo: Acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams. (Copyright 103FM)
Photo: Acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams.
(Copyright 103FM)

As leader of the nation, the PM should address police officers directly and rally them to engage in a massive, sustained assault against the 10,000 or so criminals who are terrorising the nation.

With no apologies to General Dillon, this is no time for “architecture”, this is a time for war, a fight to the finish.

Likewise, the PM must “ground” with public servants, daily-paid workers, teachers, energy sector workers, CEPEP, URP, farmers—in other words, everyone from whom you are demanding productivity—and motivate them to rescue the nation from the brink of becoming a failed state.

This is not about micromanagement, this is about leadership of a calibre we’ve never had in our history.

It’s a tall order.

Keithos either has it, or he doesn’t.

Photo: Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley. (Copyright News.Gov.TT)
Photo: Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley.
(Copyright News.Gov.TT)

Editor’s Note: Click HERE to read Raffique Shah’s follow-up column as he offers an apology and expresses concern for the health of Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley; and opens up on his own life with Parkinson’s Disease.

AboutRaffique Shah

Raffique Shah
Raffique Shah is a columnist for over three decades, founder of the T&T International Marathon, co-founder of the ULF with Basdeo Panday and George Weekes, a former sugar cane farmers union leader and an ex-Siparia MP. He trained at the UK’s Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and was arrested, court-martialled, sentenced and eventually freed on appeal after leading 300 troops in a mutiny at Teteron Barracks during the Black Power revolution of 1970.

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324 comments

  1. Apparently he has nothing new 2 offers I wonder who really d leader of d PNM

  2. And in some other news people in T&T will bash the government and the HDC when we can’t get a home,when we finally get a home the very same people and their children set out on a mission to make all the decent tenants life a living hell,and that is what going on at the east grove curepe housing development tower-D and others,if you complain to the parents they see nothing wrong with it they will hate you for talking out,but i blame the HDC for not doing their work it is time they take serious action against bad tenants and put them out,don’t let a few rotten apples spoil living for those who want to live a decant life,i am calling on the HDC to take action not only in east grove but all HDc housing development,i hope the admin of this page will help me get this message across thank you very much,please help me by sharing this post thank you God bless.

  3. Yeah Glen I do concur wid ur observations:Hope Sean Rambaran sees it!He’s
    held in the grip of blind fanacatism.He 4got Panday made a jail&was@ a loss
    to explain a (£10m)deposit in aLondon bank a/c in his name.He laid the
    blame on Oma!!Don’t 4get the young lady atop the ladder@Rienzi complex
    searching4work files&d ole Bas comes 2assist with the search.Did his search
    engage police attention? In all fairness he did a reasonably good job with
    a ($10US)a barrel.Keep in mind his supporters never sought to.make T&T
    ungovernable during his tenure as they swear to do in the PNM’S.Trust me
    they have ways of.tinkering with the.pricing structure as they have a
    stronghold in the retail&distributive trade.And this hurts the.black
    consumer the most.Observe price behaviour.after d UNC defeat @ the.polls in
    the market;Ethopia must rise2 her.full potential.Nuff said!!!*+

  4. Take a bow Raffique Shah. It takes a big man to apologize.

  5. If Rowley is medically unfit to govern call election NOW At present His Govt is Incompetent and dysfunctional..

  6. He does not know the first thing about leading so he has to shut up !!! If this was the UNC every PNM MITE would be YAPPING their gums but is PNM so they quiet !! Rowley giving them SHIT and they swallowing it like grace before meals !!!

  7. Raffique keep your opinion to your blasted treason self…they should a lock up your ass in 1970 and throw away the key….yah feel we forget yah…In certain countries you would not of been alive today ..your would have been put before the firing squard….

  8. I’ve noticed. There are two types on intelligence in T&T. The coherent and the completely dumb. Out of all the BS talked about PNM after 10mnts. Panday gave you racist money grubbing UNC some advice. The current UNC leadership has to change. Or else it’s another 15-20 years for the honourable dr. Keith Christopher Rowley. Doh take he advice and keep wishing on a start for Rumla to come back PM. Good luck.

  9. raffique shah. Donot talk you try to overthrow the Trinadad and Tobago government.You should have been ⚰ but only T&T you could talking now.???

  10. u think rowley gives a f@$5 bout trinidad?….he on vacation since sep 7

  11. Call election now PNM is worthless an full off shit.every word comes out is ah lie also racial

  12. If the PM is a replica of Kamla, no big thing.It is the same KHAKI pants just different starch !!!

  13. What about the 2.5 billion dollars from the H&S fund?.is that not teifing?.

  14. This is not about party ppl, its about country. Rowley so far has not shown that strong leadership that Trinidad so desperately needs at this critical time in our history. He needs to be dynamic, enterprising and strong willed to lead this country onto the next level. Otherwise, as the old ppl say, we spinning top on mud.

  15. Raffique who ???? Talking . Boi keep yuh tail quiet . Uhad yuh chance and did crap so zip it

  16. Dave Lux you believe your self since 1982 I am drying underwear in my dryer you see I got a house Couva and friends on BonAire and that is 34 years ago stueeeps

  17. We getting what we vote for….guy’s don’t be angry. …Enjoy. …

  18. Excellent article… let’s hope it does not fall on deaf ears. We need leadership and action NOW

  19. All ah you who vote PNM look in the mirror beat all uh chest you done this country well. Then look again an spit in the mirror your an ass……..!!!!

  20. The man leading. T&T males are virile. Why allyuh getting waxed

  21. The same people who complaining now, it had more voices pull her down, but i am not seeing a better government at lease for the pass yr, when will he bring out his next child to the public for Christmas when they put one the big galor dinner! Do so not like so!

  22. I don’t see why people are getting angry about this article. He is not bashing the PM. He knows money is tight and is just encouraging the PM to step up in other ways and be a better leader. Note I said better because even if you are good you can always be better. It is no longer about PNM and UNC, it’s T&T. We are all in the same boat right now and if it sinks we all will suffer. There are things that need to be done urgently and Mr Shah is just giving his point of view on how the PM can go about improving this country for ALL our sake.

  23. Breaking news
    Pnm supporters hav started eating grass
    Once pnm in power they r happy.
    Great is d pnm

  24. Seriously people it’s past time to stop pointing fingers ALL governments have mismanaged and stole from the people… the blame game is out dated and is banana republic politics…. let’s grow up and build or rebuild our nation together…. who feels it knows it…

  25. They need to up their game, look at the highways, Bush growing on it, pot holes in all roads, all over TT, and nobody complaining.

  26. comments from dunces who accustomed drying panty an jocky shorts in dey bedroom …..no wonder allyuh love rowley

  27. Apparently you PNM supporters don’t know value for money so Rowley is governing the country good? Because how I see it kamla was voted out because you were not getting the performance you wanted right? So is Rowley given you the PNM supporters value and performance and please don’t say kamla have it so and the economy bad I am talking about is Rowley performing what you put him their to do

  28. I can say that for once I agree with Raffique Shah.

  29. My question is are we ready? If tomorrow morning all the things that need to be done are done will be ready? Or are we going and say the government not for the people ? Why do politicians treat us like that is because we not a serious people.
    ARE WE READY for that type of CHANGE?

    • Great question, Marcus!! Like I indicated before, some people don’t like change. Hopefully common sense will prevail…how could anyone not want to see things get better??

    • I agree Glenda a good example of we not ready is property tax and the speed limit law. Instead of say let’s try the speed law, we asking for the speed limit to increase. We talk property taxes and everyone one say the government go thief it. Hear is the million dollar question who is the government not the public servants ? So are we saying that the public servants are corrupt? And they will theft the money? Then the only way you can get paid is for you to collect it. If you fail to collect your quota then you are paid what you collect. Of which 25% going to the central government. If you and a business person is friend and you don’t collect from him. An the money short your salary go be short. If you collecting from the side an region not making its quota audit and suspend your salary by 75% and you get the government pay check. So if a department not collecting because the cashier not there then you not getting paid. As its says PAYE. I am sure we will collect all taxes on time and properly.

    • Glenda Marvray…because the system benefits select few who would do everything to maintain the status quo. Anybody concerned about the shrinking middle class? The working poor? Campaign financing should be a good start if we truly want to effect change, but even then, as fraud is a trini, we know there would be ways and means to not comply with the spirit of any such legislation-like claiming donation etc.

  30. For once I will agree with Mr. Shah.

  31. After the wanton excesses &continuing perception of corruption ,poor governance,by the one&only UNC nuttin yet party(fete).Suddenly many are coming out of the woodwork to demand a ten month miracle ,with falling revenues forex problem etc the.perpetual criminal empire that is T&T2day!Come PNM &wave u magic wand return polarised T&T2 a place of bliss.Is any regime past or present dismantling the twin evil of guns&drugs which has now compromised all our institutions?Come boy Raff smell the coffee! I know you’re a realist,don’t walk the highway of delusion as many are.Lots of dirty money in T&T it speaks so loudly but many can’t hear it.No band wagon 4 me.Smash d drug&gun trade 4a better T&T !Ah lie!! *+

  32. All his ministers need to step up

  33. ..illegal guns galore..drug trade…murders related to drug trade..turf war…
    But then ordinary citizens are getting robbed everyday in this country..with a gun to their heads…
    Speaking with a Rapid Response Police officer last week…criminals walking with high powered rifles, machine guns..
    Even the average citizen is losing respect for the police..
    While investigating a car accident last week in Aranguez, the officer related to me that a male by-stander approached a drain, dropped his pants and released his bloated bladder in FRONT of male and FEMALE police officers…
    Once law and order collapses, a nation collapses….a nation under siege…
    I am PETRIFIED…
    I can only ask God to protect me and my family…

  34. When kpb travel at least she brought back investors
    What dunce rowlie bring back more of his of spring

  35. When Shah pound Kamla, everyone loves his writing, one criticism about Dr Rowley and look at the ridiculous comments!

  36. Is this the same Raffique Shah who attempted a military coup and and was jailed?
    He is the one who should shut up!

  37. He spared nothing in this article .

  38. Mr Shah didn’t hold back . I read the entire thing .

  39. I read the entire article . Damnnnnn !