The People’s National Movement (PNM) in Tobago is ready for any election that might be called on the island, says the party’s Tobago East chairman Charles Smith.
Smith was speaking on the Minority Report aired on Tobago Updates on Tuesday.
He said: “There has been a rekindling of the fire that people have come to know in the PNM and so we are moving from strength to strength. We are moving as we should, we are having discussions, we are mending the fences, we are building back the broken bridges – and if elections were to be called tomorrow, we will be ready.”
He was speaking in the wake of the Prime Minister’s call for THA Chief Secretary Farley Augustine to call fresh THA elections.
The PM said Augustine had lost his moral mandate to govern when he left Watson Duke's Progressive Democratic Patriots (PDP) party after being elected to the THA.
In a Facebook post, Augustine replied that the Prime Minister should mind his own business and stay out of Tobago affairs.
The PDP scored an overwhelming 14-1 victory over the PNM in the December 6, 2021, THA elections. But eight months later, party leader Duke criticised the administration and later fired Augustine, BYisrael and Alicia Roberts-Patterson as deputy leaders.
He resigned as Deputy Chief Secretary of the THA and BYisrael replaced him.
All 13 PDP executive members resigned from the party on December 5, and declared themselves independents.
The 13 independents later met with supporters to discuss the formation of a new party, and Augustine said he was confident Tobago could build a political organisation that was truly responsive to the island’s needs and wants. On April 17, the team announced the name of the Tobago People's Party and Augustine, its interim leader, said the TPP would be registered with the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC).
But Smith said: “When I look at it, it’s really an amalgamation of an anti-PNM force and it's really an incarnation of the DAC (Democratic Action Congress), NAR (National Alliance for Reconstruction), TOP (Tobago Organisation of the People), Tobago Forwards. It’s really a coming together of the anti-PNM forces, and that is what the PDP became... Now what they have is just a splitting of the forces – which we said was going to happen, and it’s not because we in the PNM we’re prophets or anything like that. It’s just reality. You need to have structure and you need to have persons who are genuinely concerned about the well-being of Tobago first, rather than their own ambitions.”
He said otherwise, selfish ambitions would come to the fore and divisions would happen.
“We’ve seen it, and it's really sad that we’re here, because I am certain Tobagonians did not vote for that...They were hopeful, they voted for the promises that were made. Tobagonians voted for hope. But now many of them are hopeless.”
The Tobago Council's General Secretary Akissi London said she had no fear, as in recent times, the party had seen a resurgence of young people.
“The PNM continues to be a well-oiled organised institution that continues to encourage the young people to be a part. Given the loss at the last elections, we are doing the groundwork to get our young people back on board. They are there, but they need to have a conversation, they need to speak to people, find out what are the plans, how we are going to go about to do certain things. They need that guidance, and the PNM gives that.”
She said as a young person, she is excited to be a part of the organisation.