In November 2022, through the auspices of the Government of Antigua and
Barbuda, there arrived a few direct air passenger flights from West Africa, for the
first time, ostensibly to establish an air-bridge between Africa and the Caribbean.
It is alleged that air bridge African Airline which was not a part of the official
arrangement to facilitate visitors traveling to various Caribbean Islands, via
Antigua, saw an opportunity to engage in nefarious means through
prestidigitation, to capitalize on the situation. The result was that hundreds of
Africans were stranded in Antigua, while they tried to smuggle into the United
States of America, which was apparently promised to them by the organizers.
The government moved swiftly to stem the flow of Africans into the country, and
to assuage the situation, by providing for their acceptance and integration into
the local community, since many of them were fleeing from their war-torn
countries to seek political asylum abroad. But, the opposition forces, as they are
wont to do, saw another opportunity to deface the country’s image with the
intention of bringing down the government, a task they have set themselves to
accomplish before the end of the current term. (One of their most prominent
personalities on radio has pledged to put his life on hold until he sees the back of
Prime Minister Gaston Browne. From all appearances, he is likely to have a lifeless
existence for a period of about twenty years. Senseless!) So they demonstrated
and picketed, demanding a public inquiry. Fortunately for the opposition, the
government is very productive, giving them many issues to whine about, so that
they may appear to be politically relevant. If the government ministers had fallen
asleep, they would have no material to work with, since they appear to be limited
in initiative. (The man who sleeps cannot sin!)
For the past seven months, Government has been bombarded with questions
surrounding the African Saga. Questions from all fora, newspapers, radio
programs, press conferences, and parliament – many questions, and questioners,
being severely redundant.
It appears that Government deems it prudent not to waste scarce resources on an
inquiry that the opposition has been demanding, which will most likely produce
the same answers the government has been proffering, together with the stand-
up comedy to be enjoyed by a people who “love ugly.” Funds are needed to
maintain the courthouses and clinics, together with the rapidly expanding
infrastructure; and it is the government’s responsibility to determine the best
application of scarce resources.
Perhaps the solution to this Mexican Stand-off should be that the government
permit the inquiry to proceed, with the caveat that the alleged thousands of
signatories petitioning the inquiry, pay for it –End of Story.
Cecil E. W. Wade