Members of the Virgin Islands Party (VIP) administration believe it is time that a BVIslander holds the post of Governor as oppose to a United Kingdom (UK) native. This view was expressed during the debate on the motion for a Constitutional Review before the House of Assembly, yesterday, July 27.
Premier and Finance Minister, Hon. Andrew Fahie said that there are unwritten principles in the Constitution including who should be appointed to the post of Governor.
“…An example of the application of unwritten principles that work in our Constitution (is that) the office of Governor is created by section (35) of the Virgin Islands constitution order 2007, there is nothing in that section or anywhere else in the constitution that stipulates that the Governor of the Virgin Islands must be a UK person or that the governor cannot be a Virgin Islander,” he told the House of Assembly.
Premier Fahie added, “yet still in 70 years of the BVI modern constitutional history and in the 13 years of the existence of the Virgin Islands constitutional order 2007, Her Majesty and UK Government have not seen it fit to appoint a Virgin Islander to the post of governor.”
He said there are many locals who are qualified for the job.
“How is it that from among all our educated Virgin Islanders who have been careered public servants, innovators of industries, have master degrees, and doctorate, all our generations, that they cannot find a single one among us who they can deemed qualified for that post,” the Premier lamented.
The Territory’s leader referred to the situation as the invisible glass ceiling which is not written in the constitution, but is blocking locals from excelling.
“A people has only truly come in to being when any young child can aspire to achieve the highest office in the land of their birth. If you look at the post of Governor being the highest office in the land in the unwritten principle that is applied in the appointment of persons to this post, it would appear that a Virgin Islands child cannot, no matter how hard they study and work, they cannot occupy this office,” he stressed.
The Finance Minister believes that as long as this continues then the office of the Governor is no longer about the theme of justice and inspiration, but rather, “a symbol of discrimination, injustice…this is the case as long as that office remains out of bounds to Virgin Islanders.”
Premier Fahie warned that as leaders they must understand the 'backline system of the constitution', pointing out that the constitution is not an Act, but is a statutory instrument.
Hon. Vincent Wheatley, Minister for Natural Resources, Labour and Immigration said in years to come the current members of the House of Assembly can be remembered for taking the bold step to allow for a local to fill the position of governor.
“…(We) can decide among ourselves what we want to go, not fear, out of boldness that we could say going forward from this year, that year, the governor must be a local BVIslander,” he said.
The Ninth District Representative said the BVI is at the point where they should not be afraid to make those kinds of decisions.
“I know traditionally, but by design, we tend to be afraid of our own people, but we must grow up at some point in time and not afraid to take responsibility for our own destiny,” the Minister stated.
The Motion is seeking for the House to approve the establishment of and the composition of the Constitutional Review Commission for the purpose of conducting a full review of the Virgin Islands Constitution Order, 2007 (U.K.S.I. No. 1678 of 2007).