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Constitutional Reform and nation building

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IT IS OFTEN INTERPRETED THAT nation building is a concept only for the Government; or that it is only intended for a localised few. The truth is that if we are to build a better nation every Vincentian has a significant role to play in the process. What then is your role? Nation building is of such great importance to the future success of our people, that the role of the citizen in the process must never be relegated to levels of mere guesswork or chance.{{more}} Instead, we must continue to scientifically approach the subject matter of moulding our human resource so that we will be able to facilitate the levels of development that we need for the betterment of our people. It is in this context that it is extremely important that as citizens we all play our roles in the most important process of Constitutional reform.

The ideal will always be for us to structure a society in which every citizen, particularly our youth within the prime of the economically active age group, are informed about and engaged in all major issues that affect their lives. More and more in SVG, I see more young persons are becoming interested in nation building. As we seek to rewrite a most antiquated constitution it is heart warming to see the number of young persons who have come on board and are assisting to facilitate the process. What is even more interesting is that our young people are not only willing to write in newspapers; call in on radio; to discuss in the streets and at consultations; but our young people are expressing clearly that in this critical period of constitutional reform we must all place Country before party.

How can we avoid to participate in such an important process, and by so doing allow the process to pass us by without having our say? However, we must engage in the national dialogue from an informed position. This is definitely not the period for propaganda! When I hear the low levels that some are willing to take the debate for selfish reasons it is appalling. How do we define a Constitution? A constitution is not about a political party. It is not about a single individual. It is about the entire citizenry. A Constitution is a body of fundamental principles according to which a state is governed. This is about SVG! We the people have a chance to shape how we are governed. The constitution is a set of rules codified in fundamental law which regulates the relationship between the state and citizens, citizens and citizens, and the behaviour of states to other states.

Where do the propaganda and gossip fit into this matrix? It is a time for us to educate and not to deceive. It is deceptive to say that under the proposed constitution if you have four cows you will have to give up three; that if we have a new constitution that our dollar would be devalued; it is deceptive to say that under a new constitution we will need a visa to go to Britain and that pensioners would not continue to receive their pensions; it is deceptive to say that under a new constitution all the Vincentians in the British armed forces would be sent home; it is deceptive to say that under a new constitution that Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves will be President for life; and the list of deceptive and idle conversations continue. Sad to say that the bulk of the deception is coming from groups seeking to obtain political power. Persons who seek to take the reins of government should seek to educate citizens on the issues and not to fool people! It is a total act of dishonestly and most unfair to persons who may not have the means of verifying the information for persons on the NO campaign to attempt to drive fear in their hearts through baseless and untrue information. This is a sure sign of desperation.

Our youth must remain positive in the campaign for constitutional reform. We must stand today and be counted! We must not allow anyone or anything to distract us from supporting such an important document. We must at all times keep foremost in our minds that “we have a nation to build, if we don’t do it, who will?” Let us keep our focus. Support Constitutional reform.

Saboto Caesar is a Lawyer and Unity Labour Party Senator, now serving as Minister of State in the Ministry of Agriculture etc.

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