By Lloyd Noel
The 40th anniversary of our independence, and the celebrations that took place at the National Stadium on the 7th February, were all very well received and appreciated by our people generally.
Lloyd Noel is a former attorney general of Grenada, prominent attorney at law and political commentator
The crowd at the stadium was not as large as on previous occasions for such events – and that was explained by many as the shortage of funds for transportation, and the absence of “free buses” by the controllers as used to be case.
But the activities and displays and the proceedings in general were quite impressive and fitting for the occasion.
The government paid special tribute to the late Sir Eric Gairy, as the Father of our Independence way back in the hectic days of January and February 1974.
To mark the special milestone of 40 years, the Botanical Gardens and the Tanteen Roundabout in St George’s were re-named after Sir Eric Matthew Gairy.
The late George Brizan was also mentioned as one of our independence PMs, as well as the late Maurice Bishop, who became PM after his New Jewel Movement (NJM) carried out a successful armed revolution and overthrew the Gairy regime in March 1979 – the first in the English-speaking Caribbean at the time.
Bishop was also overthrown and he and six of his ministers were killed on Fort Rupert in St George’s by troops under the control of Bernard Coard and his group in September 1983. But they did not last very long, when the late President Ronald Reagan of the US sent in his troops to secure the US students at SGU, and rescue detainees at Richmond Hill Prison and Hope Vale Camp – in the very September of 1983 – and the Coard gang were arrested and later convicted and imprisoned.
No doubting that little-known Grenada before 1974 had more than its fair share of dramatic and bloody history since its independence 40 years ago.
But despite all the drama in our political history over the years, and the worldwide publicity we received since the happenings in 1974 and the years immediately following, our economy has not benefitted as it should, and here we are 40 years thereafter with unemployment well over 50 percent and the daily living conditions of our people in very serious straits.
Casting blame on any one individual or party leader would get us nowhere at this stage of our desperate situation because the damage has already been done, and what we must be looking for are practical and sensible solutions in the interests of all our people – regardless of political affiliation.
Naturally the party and government in control have to take the lead and set the standard -- after adequate consultation with the other groups and stakeholders in the communities and the country as a whole, so that the end result would be in the national interest of all concerned.
It is very well documented that the party and its leader now in control have won the people’s approval to take charge and run the affairs of our tri-island state on four separate occasions since independence in 1974.
And it cannot be treated as insignificant that it was the same leader on every occasion and on two of those the party won all 15 seats in our parliament.
With that level of confidence and approval bestowed on the leader and his party by the majority of our people in national elections, it is my humble opinion that, as such successful national leaders, they should rise above the daily petty political squabbling and run the affairs of our nation as true statesmen and women, for the good and welfare of all the citizens.
The promises and programs that were talked about on platforms during the election campaign that returned the controllers to the seats of power, after one year since that victory those have not yet been fulfilled, and quite naturally the people are becoming very anxious and concerned, because a whole lot of them are in desperate need.
Sending more people home and without a living wage to care for their families, cannot be the answer to our problems and ways and means must be found to keep people employed to be able to care for their families, and find additional employment to make those looking for jobs of one kind or another to make those economic ends meet.
And as though the hard times and bad luck are recurring and multiplying, to teach the controllers a lesson and remind us all that things can get a lot worse before becoming any better.
We lost the use of our parliament building and governor general’s residence from the devastation caused by Hurricane Ivan in 2004 and made even worse by the storm in 2005.
The Australian government announced some time later on that it was providing some $5 million Australian dollars to our government to help re-build the residence and the parliament.
I cannot recall whether it was announced towards the end of the NNP thirteen years in office in 2008, or during the early days of the NDC control in 2008 after they defeated the NNP lot.
But whenever it was, nothing visible was done on the buildings since those times, and very recently the Australian government advised our government that it was withdrawing the offer, as it needed the funds for some project in Australia.
The follow-up story has been that $1 million was used by our government – so four millions going back to Australia. Whether that sum will be replaced, no word as such thus far – but the sum remaining is no longer the government’s to spend.
It is hoped that the said sum is still available, and was not used by the controllers over the years on some other government business – because having to find that sum elsewhere, would be additional stress on the treasury.
So the first year has gone by since that clean-sweep victory in February last year, and the thousands of voters who made the record possible for a second time continue to wait and hope and endure the stress, while living with great expectations that the promises of better days and living conditions ahead somewhere in the near future, will materialise in the fullness of time.
Looking on from the outside, the rest of us who share their hopes for the good and welfare of our people in general can only keep on hoping, and utter a silent prayer that better days would not be too very long in coming to their rescue and satisfaction.