Grenadians at home and abroad are looking forward with great anticipation and optimism to the February 2nd national convention of the National Democratic Congress (NDC). The buzz around the country is who will become the new political leader of the most powerful and formidable political opposition to take on the battle against the New National Party (NNP).
Former prime minister and political leader of the NDC since 2000 has indicated that he won't be contesting for the leadership of the party and so the way is paved for the delegates of the party to elect a new political leader. Hon Tillman Thomas must be commended and congratulated for his statesmanship and in the true spirit of the greatest icon to have ever lived, Nelson Mandela, is gracefully passing the torch to a younger generation of leaders.
It is not in the DNA of most regional leaders to honestly and sincerely give up the leadership of anything without a fight. Tillman Thomas is an example of a true patriot. He served his country, party and people of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique with great distinction and pride. History will remember him as an incorruptible leader. A man who fought for freedom of speech and association, the rule of law, protection and preservation of the democratic institutions, accountability, transparency and good governance. Like him, hate him, he stands tall. He will forever remain an elder and an inspiration to the NDC and its supporters. I believe that he has made the right decision in the best interest of himself, his family, the country and his party the National Democratic Congress. He fought an honest and good fight.
The election of a new political leader of the NDC comes at a very critical period in the history of the country. Five days after the delegates select the new political leader Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique will be celebrating its 40th anniversary of independence. The presentation of a new political leader to the people by the NDC will be the party's independence gift to the country. This new leader will be able to present his vision for the development of the country, especially at a time when the country is under a structural adjustment program (SAP) initiated by the NNP under the supervision of the IMF and on the brink of bankruptcy.
Hon Nazim V Burke is the undisputed front runner to become the new political leader of the National Democratic Congress. He has been the deputy political leader for the past five years, during which time he remained loyal and very supportive of the political leader Tillman Thomas and committed to the ideals of the NDC. No one can deny that Hon Nazim V Burke is well qualified to become the new political leader of the NDC and therefore he should be afforded the opportunity to prove his worth to the people. Hon Burke has the support of the major arms of the party including the Women's Group a very critical voice within the organisation. Sister Jenny Rapier has been doing some exceptional work as the leader of the body. She must be encouraged to continue to speak out on behalf of all the women of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique.
The new leader of the NDC will undoubtedly face many serious challenges. These challenges include the re-structuring of the party to prepare for the next general elections, uniting the party around common goals and a common strategy, selling a new NDC brand to the people, attracting young people as pioneers within the organisation, increasing the financial standings and building a solid grassroots organisation that empowers everybody. Apart from these internal challenges, the new leader will be faced by serious external challenges, especially from the faction of the party that was expelled. This faction will do all they can to destroy the new leader and the NDC. Prior to the February 19th general elections, this group of rebels formed an alliance with the NNP and engaged in a systematic and deliberate KGB style propaganda campaign against the leadership of the NDC, especially Hon Burke. The organisation, being a victim of internal conflict in the past, is now better prepared to counter attack any type of destabilisation. With a solid base of over 22,000 supporters, the new leader will be blessed with a solid foundation on which to build.
At a time when people are suffering under a serious economic crisis serious, honest and committed leadership is critical. The new political leader of the NDC has an opportunity to fill the leadership void that is so woefully lacking under the current NNP administration.
Hon Burke is quite capable of filling this leadership vacuum, mobilising the masses and preparing them for the change that is inevitable. The country can't go forward under this deceitful and deceptive leadership.
In his capacity as minister of finance and energy, Hon Burke was instrumental in keeping Grenada's economy stable. Given the enormous challenges he faced, both internal and external, he was able to remain focused and steadfast on the job of managing the financial affairs of the state. While his detractors successfully maligned his character, he has been vindicated, given the introduction of an IMF supervised Structural Adjustment Program by the Dr Mitchell-led NNP administration within months of taking office. This program has resulted in increased taxation on the middle class of the country.
Grenada needs a leader who can lead and manage the resources of the country effectively and efficiently. Hon Nazim Burke has proven that he has the credentials to lead and manage responsibly. Life is not an event, it’s a process, and Hon Burke understands that, hence the reasons he laid a foundation to take Grenada forward for the next 25 years. The NDC's five transformational pillars for taking the economy forward are unprecedented. This is the first time in the history of the country that a political organisation was able to present a clear strategy for moving the economy of the country forward.
Hon Nazim V Burke fully understands and appreciates the role women play in the development of the country. He is a very strong advocate for women's rights. In his capacity as leader of government business in the lower house of Parliament, he piloted and supported many bills for the advancement of women and children in society. He has publicly condemned acts of violence in whatever form against the women of the country and, as political leader of the NDC, the women of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique have a friend in Hon Nazim Burke.
They can be assured that he will continue to ensure that women take their rightful position in society. The women of the country should rally around Hon Burke, given the level of care and concern he has demonstrated for them and their welfare. They can rest assured that they will be protected and provided with all the relevant security and safety net to survive the hard economic realities of these times.
He understands that our women are the pillar of society and the family. The Grenada National Organisation for Women (GNOW) has his overwhelming support.
As a people, we have to be able to appreciate what is good for the country, ourselves and our children. Too often we the people have made the wrong choices, resulting in our own suffering and demise.
The country will lose a whole generation if we continue to be oblivious, naive and complacent. Come February 2nd, the NDC will make a serious choice in electing someone who can take this country forward in peace, prosperity, stability and, most importantly, unity.
Political grandstanding, bickering, rhetoric, expediency, bamboozlement by our current leaders have not served the country well. The time has come for some serious political leadership in the country. Our country isn't a 'Banana Republic'. Grenada has been at the forefront in the OECS; today we are the mule in the room all because of the lack of leadership.
From Sir Eric Gairy to Dr Keith Mitchell, Grenada has suffered too much political victimisation, discrimination, division, vindictiveness, hate, spite, cronyism and nepotism. It is time for a new chapter in Grenadian politics. The new leader of the NDC must demonstrate honestly, truthfulness, empathy, forgiveness, reconciliation, inclusiveness, unity, transparency, accountability, respect for the rule of law, independence of the democratic institutions including the judiciary, and police force. The leader has to reach out to every sector of the society including the enemy to build consensus on areas where they can work together in the interest of the country.
This task may be difficult given the current political polarisation in the country, however it is not impossible. If Nelson Mandela did it in his native South Africa, then Hon Nazim Burke can do it in the Spice Isles. No mountain is too high, or valley is too deep once there is the will. Hon Burke has the will. He will triumph and be victorious against his adversaries; the enemies of the people.
In conclusion, as the NDC delegates deliberate on the way forward for the party and its leadership, hopefully they will make the right choice and elect the most capable individual to lead the party and the country in the not too distant future. Irrespective of which political organisation you may be affiliated to, it is in the best interest of the country to have decent political leaders who can be an inspiration and mentor to our young people . Someone who can represent the country with distinction and pride. The leadership of today will determine your future tomorrow. The economic crisis, pain and suffering the country is experiencing today are as a direct result of the poor leadership from 1995-2008. Hon Nazim V Burke is capable of leading the country on a path to sustainable economic growth and development. This humble servant of the people is a loving husband, a father and a true Grenadian patriot. Coming from a poor family he has worked his way to become an economist, lawyer and politician. He understands the struggle and will fight to ensure that all Grenadians irrespective of race, sex, colour, creed, political affiliations, have a better standard of living. Please join with the NDC and rally behind Hon Nazim V Burke to be the new political leader of the National Democratic Congress and next Prime Minister of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique.