RODNEY Piggott, chair of Tobago CivilNET, believes the olive branch that Progressive Democratic-Patriots (PDP) political leader Watson Duke has extended to Tobago People’s Party (TPP) interim leader Farley Augustine should take a back seat to the island’s efforts to achieve greater autonomy and strategies to reduce Tobago’s crime rate.
“Tobago has many more matters of relevance and importance that ought to be front and centre on our attention radar, such as Tobago’s autonomy drive laying dormant at the crossroads and a 17-year-old girl (Precious Wills) being killed, bringing our murder rate to nine. That’s nine lives that are no more,” he told Newsday on Thursday via WhatsApp.
Piggott believes the “creeping rate” of these violent crimes is symptomatic of a deeper cause – the island’s inability to govern aspects of its affairs.
“Without greater responsibility in the hands of Tobagonians for Tobago, our productivity will continue to decline. Can we focus our attention on such matters?”
During a news conference on Monday at the PDP’s head office, Port Mall, Scarborough, Duke called on Augustine, the Chief Secretary, to join forces with him to develop Tobago.
He said he had written to Augustine asking that they put their differences aside in the interest of the island. Augustine has not yet responded to Duke’s letter.
Duke, assemblyman for Roxborough/Argyle, claimed Tobagonians have been complaining about unemployment and inefficiencies on the air and sea bridge, among other issues.
On Thursday, Piggott did not want to say too much about Duke’s gesture at reconciliation.
“Personally, I see the quoted olive branch that is said to have been extended from Mr Watson Solomon Duke to Mr Farley Chavez Augustine as a personal matter between the two men, in their capacities as men, irrespective of the offices of responsibility to the people of Tobago to which they have been elected.”
He continued, “Since the society of Tobago has only heard one side of this purported olive branch extension, it would be presumptuous of me to render comment on its veracity and potential response from Mr Farley, especially given that olive branches and picker-bush branches bear a similarity.
“What I can say with a high degree of certainty, particularly to the youth looking on and taking notes, is that it is always better for elephants to choose the path of peace because when they charge at each other with blaring trunks and raised tusks, it is the grass that ultimately pays the dire price.
“Should either of these elephants contemplate extending an olive branch to the other, perhaps it is to the grass that such an olive branch ought to be extended.”
The entire Augustine-led administration resigned from the PDP last December, a year after the party won 14 of the 15 electoral districts in the December 6, 2021, THA election. They established the TPP in April at the Shaw Park Cultural Complex.
The party was launched on August 13 in Scarborough. Its symbol is an anchor.