BY SHANE A. MOHAMMED
Last Sunday, the Trinidad Express published part one of the Nigel Henry poll on the performance of the Government heading into their fifth and final year in office. Astonishingly, the poll provided us with information that the Prime Minister was currently at a 50% approval rating and that these approval ratings have increased by five points every year since 2015.
As one who is keenly interested in polls such as these, I am a bit confused by the results of the poll because they seem to be contradictory when the specifics are compared to the overall results. The poll tells us that the Prime Minister “emerged from a modest midterm slump” which further complicates my thinking since I am now left to question what caused the Prime Minister’s rating to steadily increase from his “mid-term slump.”
We have seen no major economic growth from mid-term to now; no major foreign investments and the dismantling of one of our main economic drivers (Petrotrin). Crime continues mainly due to lack of policy; foreign relations lack a clear policy; diversification of the economy is going nowhere; and furthermore, this administration has failed to effectively invigorate the overall resilience of the country. The poll states that 38% of persons disapprove of the Prime Minister’s performance which I can only infer that the remaining 12% had no opinion.
The legitimacy of the poll also concerns me since according to the article “the very same persons polled and approve of the Prime Minister’s performance paint a sobering picture of the nation.” The state of the nation stands on the shoulders of the Prime Minister since he is the Head of the Government, how therefore can there be negatives or disapproval in sectors of Governance such as Crime, the Economy and Corruption in particular, which have all been described as a being in a state of crisis? Under “corruption” 38% say it’s a crisis, 40% say it’s a major problem. 10% say it’s a minor problem and 13% say it is not a problem = 101% in total. How come Dr Henry? What kind of voodoo survey is this? Or is it, in your haste to make Rowley look good, you got your maths wrong? The same voodoo maths is applicable to National Infrastructure 101.
The Prime Minister is the Head of the National Security Council and whilst he does have a Minister of National Security, any policies coming from Government as it pertains to curbing crime or assisting the Police Service with crime fighting should be approved by the Prime Minister himself or at least known to him.
The recession issue needs to be consistently questioned
As Head of Government, he should be in direct conversation with his Ministers of Finance, Planning and Sustainable Development, Trade and Investment as well as Tourism and Agriculture as to how to stimulate the economy and position it for positive result and growth. The Prime Minister campaigned on the issue of fighting corruption. He laid claim that the former administration was so corrupt that they had bust the treasury whilst knowing that the country was in recession.
This recession issue needs to be consistently questioned because we as a nation possess the resources to ensure we stayed clear or on the periphery of recession, which I believe the last Government was doing. However, I believe that this Government had to maintain its one major campaign promise which was that “the UNC thief” and therefore where possible they triggered a man-made recession which included restricting access to foreign exchange.
The Pavement Report has become a success
Therefore, given all of these issues, how did Nigel Henry conclude a 50% approval rating for the Prime Minister? And further what was the sample used? Being devil’s advocate here and for the purpose of balance, one question needs to be asked. If Rowley has a 50% approval rating, does that mean that the UNC also has a 50% approval rating? What is the UNC not doing to surge ahead of the PNM? There are changes taking place – the new faces appearing on platforms, the exposure of new candidates for the Local Government elections, and the presentation of more young people particularly.
So, what is missing from the puzzle? Should there be more declarations from sitting Members of Parliament as Dr Suruj Rambachan did and declare that they are bowing out in the interest of the country and party’s success? Should the UNC, as an Opposition, become more aggressive in the next year? Should the party change its National Executive?
The Pavement Report has become a success and has complemented the Monday Night Forum, but should the Monday Night Forum up the tempo and shorten the number of speakers and allow the Political Leader more time to outline plans? And finally, should the Opposition Leader take to the ground now and start meeting the people directly and not only at the MNF? Would these suggestions push the UNC ahead?
I look forward to part two of the Nigel Henry poll, but as it now stands, I am not completely convinced by its outcome because the details of the poll do not support the final finding.