I raised one brow when Colin Lucas moved from being Chairman of the National Carnival Commission to becoming the Acting Chief Executive Officer. But my both eyebrows raised when he was succeeded by former UNC Minister of Culture Winston “Gypsy” Peters.
Seamlessly moving from director to executive is not a new phenomenon in sweet T&T but that doesn’t make it palatable. We have come to a new normal which flies in the face of good governance.
From active politician to Commissioner of Police, and alleged ‘gang leader’ to stormer of the President’s House and back to being arrested by the Police; the stench is suffocating and the behaviour shameful.
The judges of the 2019 Extempo competition will have to engage in deep compartmentalisation to not see their chairman on stage but only an Extempo artiste. They would have to forget on whose behalf they are paid to judge the competition and see it only as an art form meant to promote one genre of the cultural milieu that is Carnival.
They would be required to engage in a level of maturity and objectiveness that will not be influenced by their prior feelings or opinions about their chairman.
To be clear, here’s my concern. The Chairman according to the “State Enterprises Performance Monitoring Manual” is responsible for “ensuring at all times the recognition by the Board of the distinction between Board issues and Management issues.”
The judging of the Extempo competition is a management issue for which the NCC chairman has ultimate responsibility. As a participant in the competition, will he be able to carry out his responsibility if there is a challenge?
Maybe he will, given the ease with which he has been able to traverse both the red and the yellow political parties.
One unintended consequence is the sending of the message that once you are in power you can flaunt the rules to suit your every whim and fancy. Gypsy being in the extempo competition may be seen as ‘a small thing’ since the financial rewards are small; but it isn’t.
The message is wrong from a governance viewpoint. It unfortunately represents a prevalent attitude by those in power that ‘we are in charge’ and—no matter what you think—we will run this place as we see fit, even if we run it into the ground.
I do hope for his sake that Gypsy is not crowned the Extempo king but the data suggests otherwise. It is likely that the King and the Chairman will reign in 2019 in the same body.