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Nigel de Freitas Vice President of the Senate

Don’t argue, just pass that Tobago autonomy bill!

That’s the message Senate Vice President and Government Senator Nigel de Freitas said Tobagonians must send to the Opposition in Trinidad when the Tobago autonomy bill comes to Parliament.

And he wants Tobagonians to especially lobby Tobago born Opposition Senator and UNC deputy leader Jearlean John because De Freitas said, “…..She have some weight! She have some clout! She have some say so!”

In yesterday’s Senate debate of the 2021 Budget, de Freitas said Tobago is no “side chick” or outside woman in the Trinidad and Tobago union and if that isn’t understood then the entire country’s progress will be hampered by the lack of Tobago’s development.

He said the Tobago autonomy bill is as important as TT’s constitution and carries the same weight “Because whatever happens in that bill has the potential to affect 70,000 Tobagonians forever.”

de Freitas said the bill couldn’t be rushed through a Parliamentary committee”…Bring it to the Parliament floor and just say ‘here take that!’”

“It has to be given its just due and just deliberation and that’s why for the last two years we were working with international experts for this kind of constitutional set up so that what comes out of that (Parliamentary) committee can withstand the test of time.”

He said in dealing with such a bill, all Ts had to be crossed and all Is dotted,”…For seamless transition to benefit all Tobagonians as it took 120 plus years to get from union to committee. And if there’s an error, you’re talking another 120 years to correct that to the detriment of everybody in Tobago.”

Stressing the bill’s importance, he noted, “The former committee chairman is married to a Tobagonian and as soon as she signed the papers in the church as far as I’m concerned she became a full-fledged Tobagonian. The interim chairman is my good self.”

“The Tobago West MP is born Tobagonian. Independent senator (Maria) Dillon- Remy is a born Tobagonian. So there’s no way we’re not going to ensure what comes out that committee is in Tobagonians’ best interest and in keeping with what that Tobago requested.”

de Freitas added, “ What I’d say specifically to Tobagonians right now if you want to help, talk to the Opposition and tell them talk to the Opposition benches in Trinidad of which (UNC senator) John is a born Tobagonian and UNC deputy leader ,”

“That mean she have some weight! That mean she have some clout! That mean she have some say so! So when that bill comes from the bipartisan committee and hit that Parliament floor, tell them – don’t argue! Just pass it!”

He said the loss of the Sandals resort has him mad and disappointed since once COVID-19 recedes many people will be travelling. But De Freitas said Tobago still has several hotels.