THE Prime Minister claims he deliberately did not put up a slate for the People’s National Movement’s (PNM’s) upcoming internal election, because his candidates would possibly have been unopposed.
But Dr Rowley quickly added that although he has not selected a slate, “I did not say I am not associating with a slate.”
He was addressing a Leadership In Service campaign meeting on Thursday night at the Caroline Building, Pump Mill, Scarborough, Tobago.
Rowley said the PNM was in transition and he decided to put the interest of the party first.
“I know, without fear of contradiction, that had I selected a dozen or so people and said, 'This is my slate,' that most of them would have been unopposed, because there would have been a sentiment that 'They are running on the political leader’s slate, holding on to his coat-tail, and I can’t beat him and I am not taking part in the election.'”
Such sentiments, Rowley said, are not what is called for at this time.
“At this time of transition, what is called for is for the cream to rise to the top on its own strength. So I said I am not putting up a slate.
“You know what that means? Let me see who genuinely wants to serve this party and has what it takes to come out and stand up and say, ‘I would like to offer myself for this position’ – and that is the person you really want.”He said the Leadership In Service slate represents the future of the PNM.
“I am not a betting man. But sometimes I will take a small wager that somewhere in the group that was presented here tonight, or very close to this group, is the leadership of the PNM in the next four to five to six to seven years.
“And it would not have been handpicked by me, in the outgoing political leader who chose his best friend or his family of his partner. They came up individually on their own, some surprisingly so.”
He used Terrence Beepath (contesting the post of field officer) and Education Minister Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly (vice-chairman) as examples.
“You know how long Terrence Beepath has been around the PNM. I never see him running for office. When Nyan was selected, after she chose the wrong constituency, and was placed in the right place, where she doesn’t want to move from because they don’t want her to move...Today, she is going to be the first female vice-chairman of the PNM.”
Rowley said he first met Jeniece Scott, who is contesting the post of youth officer, at UWI St Augustine.
“I didn’t even know she was a PNM. Next thing I saw her in general council Today, after she was encouraged to serve the people of Arima on the hill, she is going to be on the executive of the PNM.”
He added the members of the slate have come from all over the country.
‘It is because of that, I can tell you – I have been in this job for seven years as prime minister and for 12 years as political leader – I intend to take a vacation next year, because I am allowed a month’s vacation every year.
“I haven’t taken any for nearly seven years. I am taking one next year, at least one, because I know I will be leaving the party and the country in good hands. You don’t have to be afraid. This country, in the PNM hands, is in good hands.”
Energy Minister Stuart Young, PNM Tobago Council leader Ancil Dennis, THA Minority Leader Kelvon Morris and Tobago MPs Ayanna Webster-Roy and Shamfa Cudjoe were among those who spoke at the meeting.