The only question was whether Mohammed would resign of his own accord, or have his appointment revoked by President George Maxwell Richards.
Mohammed opted not to resign, insisting even as recently as last Friday, “I have done nothing wrong”.
Yesterday President Richards stepped in and fired Mohammed using his powers under section 122A of the Constitution, which lets a PSC head be removed if he “fails to perform his duties in a responsible or timely manner” and/or “demonstrates a lack of competence to perform his duties”.
Whilst Mohammed had his defenders such as Maha Sabha leader, Sat Maharaj, and Police Welfare Association head Sgt Anand Ramesar, these were hugely outnumbered by his detractors.
In this instance however Mohammed’s remarks out of the blue were seen as politically unpalatable. While his statistics may have been factually true, those numbers alone did not provide the whole picture. Was it fair to single out the Police Service for redress when ethnic imbalances occurred in other areas such as medicine, asked many? Were these imbalances due to discrimination or due to individual preferences dictated by culture, or alternatively have persons been made to feel uncomfortable in applying for areas seen as the preserve of another race?
Mohammed’s error was not just that he set foot into the political arena but that his remarks in content and in tone were seen as politically untenable.
A Government, embracing all races to win office, simply could not afford any such controversial remarks from one of its top appointees.
While the People’s Partnership last May had vowed that no-one would lose their job after the general election, Mr Mohammed’s remarks sent a contrary signal that had to be immediately refuted by the Government. In our view Mohammed’s temperament was also bought into question by his tiff with two police officers directing traffic whose orders he disputed. Things got no better when Mohammed said he felt threatened by an NGO, “Fixing TT”, whose press adverts had called for his removal, and who were subsequently investigated by the Special Branch. It is certainly surprising that a seasoned politician such as Mohammed who is a former Speaker, former NAR political leader and a former ULF MP had let things get so out of hand.
The episode again shows Mrs Persad-Bissessar in the role of firefighter, extinguishing yet another mess made by one of her office-holders.
The Government may need to set down some clearer guidelines on deportment to its appointees such as members of State Boards and Service Commission.
The sad thing about the whole affair is that the country is no less closer to addressing deep and very complex issues of race-relations in this country. Does the country achieve “balance” by measures such as imposing ethnic quotas and affirmative actions plans and equal rights laws, or do we continue to say that over the years each social/ethnic group has managed to find its own niche in this society?
Is there a need for a wider debate?
There may well be, and this could turn out to be the silver lining to the Nizam Mohammed affair.