Wednesday, 14 March 2012 02:30
By Dr. Isaac Newton
It is with sober reflection that I congratulate the United Progressive Party (UPP) administration of Antigua & Barbuda on its eighth birthday of serving the public.
To imagine a more tedious job in these tough times is difficult. Given the fog of where we came from, and the fortune of where we are heading, I have to believe that the restoration of Antigua & Barbuda is worth our best efforts.
We should bless our destiny. It teases out possibilities presented over magnifying hazards inherited.
Let’s give profound thanks for what has happened, and what could become. If we are going to win the fight against material selfishness, bad mindedness, narrow politics and hopelessness, hard-earned commitment to the greater good must be affirmed.
In reviewing the government’s track record through critical lens, we must confront the noble lie that all is well. We must equally reject the vicious half-truth that everything is awful. Several unsettling insights are worth celebrating.
First, the government’s high-fiving is a stunning vindication of the distance between jovial talk and harsh reality. Perhaps such jubilance represents the "LIE" politicians are told before their faces versus the "TRUTH" spoken behind their backs.
In fact, the high purpose of inspiring leadership is to bring life-quality sensibility to social chaos with modifying effect on the common good. Everyone should benefit from good governance and healthy public service.
Second, although the global financial pain has been civil to the nation, our gratitude for big-picture thinking and consensus conduct has escaped nation-building aspirations. To claim that the government “held it together” and “prevented economic calamity” falls short of basic operational requirements. Bold leadership achievements are found in poverty reduction, integrity in performance, and transparency in major decision-making. Love of country is never to be equated with blind obedience. Demanding public accountability is the most patriotic thing each of us can do.
Third, we love Antigua & Barbuda by being willing to speak the truth about how to make the nation better for all. The few doing well at the expense of the many is a recipe for status quo injustice. Agreed! The UPP has navigated unheard of economic challenges with distinction. But its actions have not yet provided pragmatic answers for the future.
At the same time, the government must lead so that political dividends yield positive adaptation. The search for solutions should spur meaningful debates amongst citizens. Tough times can create a culture of solving problems. This will kill the need for cute impressions, pleasant speeches, and playing smart with foolishness.
Fourth, rather than postpone disaster, it is quite possible to harness prosperity. Leaders could balance fiscal discipline with innovative growth in real terms. One remedy is to use homegrown intelligence, and the high-end talent pool of the Diaspora. The Antiguan & Barbudan mind, locked in a Caribbean aesthetic and attached to global perspectives, is the way forward. It could unleash solid solutions and incredible initiatives.
Fifth, without serious consideration of the needs of the people, ministers of government will overlook major bread and butter qualms, which require more than reviving the economy and creating jobs. Building up the people is the foundation for restoring hope. This involves boosting national self-confidence and using untapped resources, far beyond partisan support.
Sixth, what an opportunity for the UPP to provide a powerful record of its stewardship. I’d love to see PM Baldwin Spencer share a laundry list of substantial achievements and lessons learned from crises. Without ignoring the horrific economic and social hardship of Gray's Green the PM’s own constituency he must take great pains to benchmark strategies for a preferred future, at the local and national levels.
I want to see the Spencer's action put a premium on the intrinsic value of every citizen and resident, without tarnishing vital relationships with our Caribbean brothers and sisters.
If the UPP leadership does not guide the nation into the best approach to break free from crippling economic conditions and social traumas, what hope have we?
Seventh, the narrow quest for party success can sometimes overshadow our better desire for awesome outcomes. Perhaps we could hold our public officials to higher standards of excellence. For democratic energies to flourish, a blistering call for justice should inspire new optimism.
Each one of us must face the gruesome truth of celebrating the UPP’s unfinished tenure with appeals to social ideals and holistic criteria. I’d love to see indigenous businesses get a bigger piece of the national pie. I wish for a restructured tax regime that makes Antigua and Barbuda, the most business friendly island in the Caribbean.
Do you want to feel a national pulse for an uncompromising hope nailed to a thriving domestic agenda and a towering regional progress? Let's play a meaningful role in turning Antigua & Barbuda, and the entire Caribbean region into a glorious place to live and succeed.
Think big! You and I have a country to transform and the Caribbean to improve. Only a strategic plan grounded in superior ideas will tilt CARICOM in the right direction. If the UPP government pursues this extraordinary course, it is to be preserved, praised, and paraded!
Dr Isaac Newton is an International Leadership and Change Management Consultant and Political Adviser. He specializes in Government and Business Relations, and Sustainable Development Projects.
Dr Newton works extensively, in West Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America and is a graduate of Oakwood College, Harvard, Princeton and Columbia. He has published several books on personal development and written many articles on economics, education, leadership, political, social, and faith-based issues.