By Hastings R. Daniel

In The Public Interest

Some weeks ago we wrote an article chronicling the numerous senior citizens employment by the TUG since February 2015.  We have had some encouraging reviews of said article.  Over the next weeks we shall be dealing with another sour thumb in the St.Kitts Nevis saga.  We return then to the empowerment or lack thereof of our youths.

Let us return to the days of our first national hero Rt. Excellent Robert Llewellyn Bradshaw.  Recall with me that Bradshaw chose a young man from St.Pauls to be Headmaster of the St.Kitts Nevis Grammar School at the tender age of 24.  That fellow was Eustace Esdaille.  My peers who went to Grammar School under Esdaille’s tutelage still speak of him with fondness and awe today some forty years since he left.  Esdaille at 24 has had a more lasting memory than all who came before and after at that bastion of learning.  Recall with me that Bradshaw in 1975 chose a young man to be the Governor of St. Kitts Nevis & Anguilla when that post was almost reserved for the retirees.   Sir Probyn Inniss was a mere 38 years old when he accepted that high office.  He carried it with resounding dignity and decorum.  As a young man of 18 in Basseterre I was lifted to another planet to see what can be achieved by the very young for the very many be they young or old.   The list goes on.  We are here talking of the empowerment of youth.  We say in economics and finance that ‘a rising tide lifts all boats”.  Likewise youth empowerment lifts all in the country.  There is a different drumbeat and the marchers move swiftly through their paces.  If at all youth do not stay in office they have had the experience early and can certainly make their marks in other fields.  Neither Sir Probyn nor Dr. Esdaille are serving in their respective positions but both they and us have been better for the experience.

It is not that senior citizens cannot think and have ideas.  It is that they cannot connect with the whole cross section of the populace.  What is more you can have all the ideas you need energy for effort to execute same.   Youth carries with it execution.   It is not surprising or is it unexpected that people over sixty in a meeting tends to be turned off after the first hour.  They subsequently sleep after that.  You could then conceivably have cabinet meeting with sleepers and slumberers while serious matters of state are being discussed and dispensed with.  The same could be said of all senior civil servants employed by a P.M. who is the longest serving minister of government in St.Kitts and Nevis, himself may well be passed his sell by date.  It does not commend us to be sending home people at 58 saying they have reached their retirement age but while they are going out some older than they are entering the public stern style.  The government of St.Kitts & Nevis is not only moribund it is also muscle bound with old persons whose ship has long since sailed.

Here in Nevis there is but one Department that seems to define itself by senior citizens.  The Department of Education that is responsible for infusing in our boys and girls a new vision cannot even peep.  They have closed their eyes, with heads bowed down with years and are fast asleep at the wheel with as snoring that is bellowing.  Everybody at Education Department including the Minister is in this bracket with an average age of sixty (60) having taught for 40 years.  They have all being washed up on the shores of life in sackcloth and ashes collecting a salary and not much else.  Here in Nevis the standard policy is if you are fed up being a head teacher they send you to education department and call you all kinds of retirement sounding names.  We happen to know most of them.  We have no hard feelings but “over the hill” is what it is.

There is a political strategy to hiring senior citizens who have passed their sell-by date.  The sitting politician will say they cannot run in election for that same reason so they will never undermine or do anything but proverbially “toe the line”.  The politburo reason that if they empower a younger person that person might get ambitious and find out the truth and do something about it.  Youth then is to be afraid off because they can run in election.  Senior citizens are in the “departure lounge” and cannot return after they pass emigration.   This strategy is short-sighted and threatens the very fabric of our future development.  Our youth seems only destined by this government to the cellar positions and the cell.  The entire world is now under a cloud because the United States will be led by a person over 70 years come November.  The young people goose is cooked.  They are going to be buried under an avalanche of senior citizens whose only hold on power is to ensure their care in the VIP lounge of life.  Youth seems to be relegated to be “hewers of wood and drawers of water”.  Heaven help us.

It behooves us in these halcyon isles to return to the pathways set by Labour, Pam & NRP.  Seek out youth with ability, training and vitality then send them off to make St.Kitts and Nevis great again.  Oh for a return to those halcyon days when an Attorney General and Auditor General were not even 30 years on appointment.   Rise again St.Kitts and Nevis!