OCTOBER 14 was a historic day in TT and a watershed day for the world governing body for pan –Pan Trinbago.
It was the first time in the history of the organisation’s elections that opposing candidates came together in one forum. The management of Shell Invaders Steel Orchestra was able to accomplish something that nobody before them ever did.
Invaders’ Meet the President forum held at the President’s Box at the Queen’s Park Oval, Tragarete Road, Woodbrook, got all candidates vying for president of Pan Trinbago in Sunday’s elections to come together to face the public in a Q&A session.
The six candidates (all male) greeted each other with smiles. Missing were the two female candidates, Beverley Ramsey Moore and Theclia Forde-Rodriguez.
Putting behind them all the slander, malicious behaviour and misinformation which had been circulating over the last year, Darren Sheppard, Vernon Morancie, Keith Byer, Robert Amar, Lawford Dupres and Keron Valentine took on all the questions hurled at them. From where I sat, it did not seem that they all knew about the situation they were going to face if and when elected to office. They were questioned about Pan Trinbago’s debt burden and headquarters, payment of the pannists’ 2018 Panorama remittance, youth development, constitution reform and more.
The burning question was about members of the executive salaries – businessmen Robert Amar and Lawford Dupres said they did not need any salary or stipend from Pan Trinbago. But members of the executive are not supposed to get a salary but a stipend.
One most outstanding issue that was not addressed by any of the candidates was the payment of salaries to Pan Trinbago’s employees. The employees have not been paid for five months of this year and there are outstanding monies from 2017 and 2018.
All the candidates came with their plans to fix the organisation, some with a slate, others as independents. There were pie in the sky proposals, some to immediately restore the downward spiral of the organisation and some for long-term results.
But the reality is that not one of the candidates except Darren Sheppard (present executive) seem to know what is happening inside the organisation.
There is a memorandum of agreement between Pan Trinbago and the National Carnival Commission (NCC) signed by president Keith Diaz which puts NCC in charge of Panorama and organisational structure as well as events. Nothing can happen without Pan Trinbago first going to the NCC.
Pamberi Steel Orchestra went one step further the Wednesday evening had candidates at their panyard to give band members in their area an opportunity to hear the candidates and ask them questions.
Pan Patriots led by Darren Sheppard along with Richard Forteau (secretary), Team PAN Progressive and New led by Keith Byer and Team New Times led by Keron Valentine were on the agenda.
Because of unforeseen circumstances Team New Times did not face the audience.In a time when the organisation is at rock bottom it is fortunate that Sunday’s elections has brought 46 candidates, some surprisingly very young, some very qualified and some full of experience and the young ones must be commended for coming forward in an effort to help their organisation.