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Minister inciting riot in organisation—Forteau

Published: 
Wednesday, January 11, 2017
Pan Trinbago claims political interference in body...
Richard Forteau

It’s political interference. That is the claim from acting Pan Trinbago president Richard Forteau as he broke his silence on a campaign to remove the entire executive of the steelband body on the eve of the staging of the national panorama competition.

Forteau said that in an interview with the T&T Guardian, hours before yesterday’s meeting with steelbands, to update their membership on the staging of Panorama 2017.

Forteau, who is acting for ailing Pan Trinbago president Keith Diaz, also said Community Development, Culture and the Arts Minister Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly was attempting to undermine Pan Trinbago.

“I am saying the minister is trying her utmost to incite a riot within our organisation, so pan Trinbago is saying there is political interference in our organisation because they are trying to bring our organisation down,” Forteau added.

Asked why did he think that was being attempted , he said: “We have a lot of information in that regard. What they are doing now is trying to see if they could get the organisation to collapse by calling members of the executive.”

Forteau, who is the secretary of the organisation, said last week’s resignations of two executive members, assistant secretary Cindy Rosemin and Education Officer Aquil Arrindell, were not accidental. “That did not happen by chance. We have information . Two people would have gone , so they’re working on people’s heads because officers are telling us that people are calling them (to resign) now.”

Last year, vice president Byron Serrette resigned for similar reasons.

Over the past two weeks Trinidad All Stars member, Dane Gulston, has been leading a group of disenchanted pan players called United Pan Players Movement (UPPM) demanding the immediate resignation of the Diaz-led Pan Trinbago executive.

Forteau said, in his capacity as acting Pan Trinbago president, he held a meeting with Gulston at City Hall on Monday with a view to ensuring peace in the organisation, adding that his position was “there must be peace and at no time people must feel that we are black people fighting like crabs in a barrel .”

He said during the meeting Gulston could not say how many members the UPPM had.

“He couldn’t tell me we have that we have ten members, 20 members but we saw three people outside masquerading . Three players from a legitimate body like Pan Trinbago to resign. I am trying to understand what is their locus standi in the whole exercise.”

He insisted that Pan Trinbago was moving to ensure Panorama 2017 takes place. Forteau said last Saturday Pan Trinbago and the NCC met and agreed on certain things. He insisted , however that: “The only thing about it is that we are agreeing with certain things with the chairman of NCC and apparently when he goes and meet with the minister and when he (subsequently) comes back, the decision is changing all the time.”

Forteau said: “That was what has led us to say that there is political interference because we feel it is coming from higher than the minister.”As we speak I would like to inform the nation and the world that the NCC board is not complete at present because the interest groups are not represented, contrary to the Act but they have a board. I can’t say that they are illegal. NCC Act providers for mas , pan and calypso to be represented on the board.

He said while Pan Trinbago was dealing with its debts there are also problems at the NCC. as its board was not complete. Forteau said: “The NCC board is not complete at present because the interest groups are not represented, contrary to the Act but they have a board. I can’t say that they are illegal. NCC Act providers for mas , pan and calypso to be represented on the board.”

He said he did not understand why that has not been addressed by the minister , adding that the NCC did not submit itself to an annual audit since 2004. Forteau said: “Everybody out there is knocking and shooting Pan Trinbago down but it might be interesting to find out what is the debt NCC is carrying.”

He said Pan Trinbago expected yesterday’s meeting to be heated. Forteau said: “We put everything in place, we are going to talk to our membership and we are not going to allow mob rule to mash up our organisation.”

He said each steelband has to send two delegates to the meeting, adding that “we have sought from the membership their legal two delegates .”

He said his advice to those who want the challenge the organisation’s leadership should “ use the legal means to challenge us and whatever the court says we will abide.”

MINISTER RESPONDS

Last night, Gadsby-Dolly in response to Forteau dismissed his claims saying nothing can be further from the truth.

She said the Government, through the NCC, has been in constant discussion with Pan Trinbago trying to provide solutions to the situation.

She said, “My responsibility is to all citizens of T&T including Pan Trinbago and I must be mindful of this as i discharge my duties.”