WHO WILL BE OUR MOSES? by Tyrone Hodge

By anguillian September 21, 2015 09:00


Retired General Colin Powell, at a leadership class that he taught at Stanford University at Palo Alto, California, had this to say: “Leadership is all about people, and getting the most out of people. It is about conveying a sense of purpose in a selfless manner and creating conditions of trust while displaying physical and moral courage.”
With the election of a new government, we had hoped that we would see leadership unlike our last leader, for it is from our last leader that we are now reaping the consequences of his actions. Of course I’m referring to our ongoing banking situation which seems to be the gift that keeps on giving. Chief Minister Hughes, brought about a situation, that I think he had not thoroughly thought out, a situation that he did not try to get resolved knowing full well that he would be retiring from public office. Whether or not, he fully understood the gravity of his actions, now seems irrelevant, given that the incoming government has inherited his mess.
When we think about what has happened, it becomes clear that there is more than what meets the eye, and we for not one moment should rest on our laurels while the future of our indigenous banks lies in the balance. Folks, we are not thinking, and for us it might be too late. We have always been ridiculed as not being too bright and if we do nothing about these banks we will have played into the hands of the naysayers. What will it take to snap us out of this two-year coma that we find ourselves in? Look around you, ask yourselves what has happened?
Mr. Hughes, has ridden off into the sunset with his large gratuity and his huge pension check, and he’s probably laughing his rear end off, for he knows that he wasn’t liked and this was his parting gift to us. Mr. Banks said that there is no smoking gun in the report, so what then is the hold up? We can’t afford to spend anymore time waiting for someone who doesn’t give a damn about whether or not those banks live or die, to make his decision, for it is his expressed hopes to lessen the number of indigenous banks in the region. How many times do I have to say that?

Those two banks were created because there was a need. We could not get loans from the other banks because those decisions were being made by computers in Toronto and Barbados. Our local banks came about because of this. We are different from other Caribbean peoples because we have land. Mr. Banks contends that the only thing that is wrong is that the collateral that was used for some of the loans has been devalued because of the economic downturn in 2008, thus causing the brunt of the problem. Note to the CM: everyone suffered the same downturn, some worse than others, and most countries did what they had to do to shore up their troubled banks. What has been done to shore up our banks? We have a Central Bank which is hell bent on consolidating both banks into one, without any thought as to how they came about. Why is it that it’s always our own people who are the ones to stick it to us? Do we seriously stand by and let Sir Dwight Venner, who is on record saying that we don’t need two indigenous banks in Anguilla, go ahead and do what he wants regardless of what it does to us? What the hell does he know about us, or from whence we came? Are we going to let someone in St. Kitts again dictate what happens to us? Did we not fight that battle once before?

Folks, Mr. Banks is an intelligent fellow, and I’m not patronizing here. I truly believe that he has the smarts to take us down the right path, but this has got to be done in a prudent and timely manner. We cannot and should not listen to the same people who got us into this mess in the first place, and, while loyalties may come into play here, it is the loyalty to the people of Anguilla that trumps all others. Mr. Banks, at the monetary conference, to listen to you and Dr. Gonsalves go back and forth, was amazing. You guys behaved like preppies at one of those Ivory League colleges back east. I know that all of the leaders will have a vested interest in what happens in Anguilla, and they probably have some sway with you, Mr Banks, in determining the final outcome of our banks – just remember, that’s our birthright you’re fooling with. Do you want to go down as the Chief Minister who lost Anguilla’s indigenous banks? Mr. Banks, Anguilla has treated you very well. It’s time that you return the favor.
We know where your fellow Monetary Council members stand. They don’t have a clue as to where those banks came from and they damn sure should not have a say in where they go. Give us our money and let us be on our way. Victor, do you truly understand that this is one moment in time that will make or break you? You fought long and hard to get the top job – you didn’t have to come back. You are very well off and it’s not about the money. You wanted the Chief Ministership under your own name and you finally got it. What will history say about you? I say again, leadership is all about trust while displaying physical and moral courage. It’s also about having the balls to assume responsibility for one’s actions. Shed the excess baggage and go outside of the box. Your conscience demands it. Do you, sir, have the moral courage?

I’ve told you before that I hope that you will not let personal ambition get in the way of national commitments. This generation tends to forget that the life that it now enjoys came out of the hard work and sacrifices of others. Unfortunately, not everyone was able to benefit from the hard work of generations past. The benefactors of Anguilla’s goodwill were nothing more than opportunists with little or no commitment to the homeland, who used their advanced knowledge for self-aggrandizement.
So here we are once again, contemplating what our next move ought to be. We seemed to have accepted our lot in life in that we’ve become passive. It appears that we can’t read the tea leaves. We tend to sell ourselves short. It’s as though we’re still waiting to be emancipated – that we’re afraid to go after that which is rightfully ours. Carter G. Woodson, the African American Scholar, had this to say: “When you control a man’s thinking, you do not have to tell him to stand here or go yonder. He will find his ‘proper’ place and will stay in it. You do not need to send him to the back door. He will go without being told. In fact, if there is no back door, he will cut one for this special benefit. His education made it necessary.”
I would have thought that in spite of it all we would have risen above it all, but it appears that we are prepared to maintain the status quo. Our inability to get the most pressing of issues resolved can be seen in no other light but complete failure. What’s done is done – the question now becomes what do we do next? Mr. Banks, the AUF party of which you are the titular head, cannot walk away from this mess with clean hands, for when your government was in power, rather than look out for the interests of the people, the lot of you were more interested in self-aggrandizement. I mean, who the devil gets a 25% raise? Was that fair to the people of Anguilla? All of you are to blame. New vehicles, chauffeurs? Seriously guys? Osborne couldn’t drive himself? We’re thirty-five square miles and for this he needed a driver? Mr. Banks, get rid of the damn driver and drive yourself. What did you do for the last five years? Don’t you think it is hard for the people to see you laying back in the back of an SUV while some of them don’t have jobs.
No one wants to say anything about this, for fear of reprisals. It’s ridiculous. We have not learned one damn thing. Fifty years and we’re still acting like total morons with regard to the things that we ought to know. What has happened to us is really shameful. Those of you who went away to study on the government’s dime, returned home – and instead of using your knowledge to uplift the ones less fortunate than you, you used that knowledge to keep them down. I’m not saying that any laws were broken, but the system was gamed. Illegal no, but morally, yes.
There are lots of us out there who will see and not say and, in the words of Martin Luther King: “We remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” If ever there was a time to speak up, that time is now, for if we don’t let Mr. Banks and his counterparts know that there is no way in hell that they are going to consolidate our banks and call the new bank the Caribbean Commercial Bank, or something of the sort, then we will have fallen upon our own swords. We need to let Dwight Venner know, in no uncertain terms, that we won’t stand for it. We’ve been our own worst enemies and I’ve said this many times. The largest shareholders in both banks, how do you feel about this? You sat back on your fat rear ends hoping that things would work themselves out. How is that turning out for you?
We don’t need to be talking to the same people who got us into this mess. We need to get a new perspective on things. We have to have an alternative plan going forward. It’s been over two years now. Do we really think that the ECCB has our best interests at heart? What has been happening at the banks for the last two years? Have the banks been making any money? What about productivity, what about market share? Have they been growing the business? What the hell has been happening? It took two years to figure this out? Am I the only one here who gives a damn? I’m wearing glasses and everyone else has on bifocals? Are we going to stand by like a bunch of dolts and accept this? They want to give us a two for one. Those banks represent us, and even if it means having the Brits come in and help, we should not allow Venner and company to run roughshod over us.
If that is allowed to happen, then I think we ought to march on government House and every place that there is an office where Government work is conducted. Losing one or both banks, would be the death knell that we’ve been fighting all along. Bradshaw may not be around, but his disciples are, and if this allowed to happen Mr. Hughes’ admonition to us about Bradshaw being a great man will be given credence. It’s sad that it’s our own people who have done this to us. Shame on all of us: you who either through incompetence or simply greed, and the rest of us, who weren’t smart enough to see what was happening.
Moses led the children of Israel out of bondage to the promised land. We are still waiting for our Moses to step up to the plate and lead us back to solvency and respectability. Under no circumstances should we let the gang of eight, of which our CM is a member, agree to any sort of compromise. We want our banks back, and if it means we have to go it alone, then so be it. The BVI did not sign on to this scheme and they’re just fine, thank you.

The time has come for leadership to show some grit and do the right thing. No one is asking for names for any wrongdoing. Money was loaned out and the bottom fell out of the economy. We have educated people in Anguilla who know how to deal with that situation. Generally accepted practices, I think, is what it’s called. Give the people a summary of what the report says, and tell us what your plan is for resolving the process.
Mr. Banks, you wanted to lead, so lead. Instead of talking about mandates, let us focus on the business on hand. Remember, leadership is all about people. The ball is in your court. Will we be making demands that you are either unwilling or unable to grant? Only time will tell. Also remember that Frederick Douglas said: “Power concedes nothing without demand.” Think about that for a moment. You saw that St. Kitts refused to buy shares in LIAT because, in the PM’s words, it wasn’t feasible. You don’t do anything because Dr. Gonsalves thinks it’s the right thing to do. He has his own problems and, as the saying goes, misery loves company. Let us free ourselves from mental slavery in the words of Bob Marley. Right now it’s each man for himself and God for us all. So until next time, may God give you the strength and wisdom to do the right thing and may God bless Anguilla.

By anguillian September 21, 2015 09:00


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