Progressive Democratic Patriots (PDP) political leader Watson Duke has publicly endorsed one of his deputy leaders, Farley Chavez Augustine, as the party's choice for Chief Secretary, if it wins the 2021 Tobago House of Assembly (THA) elections.
Augustine is a minority assemblyman and representative for the electoral district of Speyside/L'Anse Fourmi/Parlatuvier.
Duke addressed supporters on Sunday, after being re-elected political leader at the PDP's inaugural summit at the Belle Garden Multi-Purpose Facility.
He said he decided against becoming THA Chief Secretary to focus on advancing Tobago's interests by contesting a seat in next year's general election.
Duke said while many believe the island cannot survive without Trinidad, independence for Tobago can be achieved.
"We need to understand that Tobago is better off independent," he said.
Duke said he has travelled to many Caribbean countries "and there is no Caribbean country, I mean absolutely none, that has the wealth as Tobago. We talking size and population."
The THA minority leader claimed Trinidad has taken advantage of the island over the years.
"When dey bus gets old, they send it across. They give us several buses but no bus terminus. CNG buses but no CNG gas. There are cruise ships coming in but there is no cruise ship complex.
"We are a slave. We are a colony of Trinidad."
He added: "And so, when I understood our position, I said, me eh want no Chief Secretary work at this point in time. Not because I resent the position but I think I am called to a bigger job, which is to go down in Trinidad, where I already have a strong base and where I am already known, and take on the fight."
Duke said he had nothing against Trinidad.
"I am in Trinidad every day. My wife is a Trinidadian. Some of my kids were born in Trinidad. I have nothing against Trinidad.
"But I have something against when they use their big vote to keep us down."
Duke said while internal self-government for Tobago has long been on the agenda, he is pushing for complete independence for the island.
"Just before the election, they go drop it in the Parliament and get you excited and tell you, 'Forget what Duke say,' but we must seek our independence now."
He added: "As they say, 'Aim for the stars, and if you eh get the stars you end up on the moon...' If you ask for independence you might get self-government. But you have to aim for the stars. If you aim for self-government, you get nothing."
Finance Minister Colm Imbert announced in the budget the legislation on internal self-government should come to the Parliament in the first quarter of 2020.
Duke put the Prime Minister on notice.
"I want to tell my brother from Mason Hall – I coming. And when I come I will be coming with lightning and thunde,r because things will not be the same in that Red House."
The PDP's summit came four weeks after the party's October 27 election campaign launch.