Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley yesterday said the People’s National Movement (PNM) will establish a party school to give members a comprehensive understanding of the party’s role in the development of the country and its vision for the future.
Addressing the launch of his slate’s internal election campaign at the Arima Town Hall, Arima, Rowley endorsed the establishment of the school, which will be presided over by veteran politician Overand Padmore, who is contesting the position of education officer in the September 30 poll.
Padmore, 86, who served previously in the position, is a former government minister in both the Dr Eric Williams and George Chambers administrations.
He is being challenged for the position by COSTAATT senior lecturer Clayton Blackman.
Rowley, who publicly thanked Padmore for accepting yet another opportunity to serve, told the gathering:
“We have always been talking about this operation of the party school and on this occasion whether we like it or not we will have to have a party school to make sure that this foundation member, who thankfully is still strong enough, is still hearty enough to talk to us as a party and as a country on where we have been, where we are and where we need to go as we build this nation.”
In endorsing his slate, Rowley, who is contesting the position of political leader unopposed, said the team was a mixture of gender and experience, representing people from various geographical locations.
The PM said he also did not want his slate to be top heavy with Cabinet ministers.
“In putting together the national executive of the party, it was not only trying to get balance in geography, balance in gender, balance in experience, we also didn’t want the party executive to be overly heavy with Cabinet ministers.
“If you not careful that could happen and then the Government start operating separately from the party because ministers are very, very busy and with the best will in the world they may not be able to provide the care and attention the party needs.”
In this regard, Rowley revealed he has had to dissuade one or two people from the Cabinet from offering themselves as candidates.
“I wanted them to give way to persons who are not in government but are just as useful in the party because we want the Government to be strong.
“We want the party to be strong. That makes the Government stronger and that makes the party stronger. I think we have struck that balance.”
Rowley said teamwork was critical as his government grapples with the economic challenges ahead.
“This is a very difficult period because I could tell you this period of time is not an easy period but this time is very difficult. But there is something that makes that difficulty and difficulties surmountable and it is the strength of the party.
“If we are to succeed as a Government to allow the country to succeed as a nation, the party has to be there to support the Government when the Government has to do what the country has to do.”
Rowley also thanked outgoing chairman Franklin Khan for stewardship after rebounding from serious illness and corruption allegations.
Describing Khan as resilient, Rowley said: “Some people see him smiling all the time but I am sure that there were days when that smile masked serious pain, not just physical pain but pain and disappointment.”
Alluding to the corruption allegations, which he said, had the “fingerprint of those who had just been put out of office,” Rowley said Khan “fought and defended himself, came back into the political arena, was elected to chairman remains a servant of the party and people.” He also lauded the contributions of former general secretary Ashton Ford and assistant general secretary Daniel Dookie, who assumed the role after Ford’s abrupt resignation last year. Rowley is expected to present his slate of 15 candidates during a 3 pm meeting today at the Diamond Vale Community Centre in Diego Martin.