My fellow Nevisians, I crave your indulgence as I seek to add my voice to the chorus of disconcerted voices in the country which presently express fear and despair at the current state of affairs in our once booming Land of Oualie.
Many of you are painfully aware that today marks exactly 6 months to the day when this political cabal known as the Concerned Citizens Movement crept up on the Nevis Island Government like a terrible and unimaginable bubonic plague. We are even more acutely aware that at every twist and turn whilst in Opposition, they promised us that they could do better and that they would achieve greater.
Unlike the CCM Deputy, who did not wait even a day before he started to criticize the NRP, I opted to exercise patience and restraint. Being the good Samaritan that I am, I decided that for at least one year, I would sit back and afford this CCM cabal the opportunity to perform and deliver.
And though only 6 months of that year have passed, based on the current mood and direction of the country, I can’t sit back and stay silent no longer…….I can’t sit back and stay silent no longer because even Stevie Wonder could see that all is not well in this land of Oualie.
All cannot be well in this land of Oualie when it is obvious that this government has no sensible strategy of how to govern nor how to create buoyancy in the economy.
All cannot be well in Oualie when in 6 months of this administration, you’ve had a whopping 7 murders after their leaders previously paraded the land as having all the answers to crime.
All cannot be well in Oualie when government worker after government worker is being sent home for no other reason than their perceived support of the NRP.
All certainly cannot be well in this land of Oualie when day after day, this CCM Government flip flops on so many issues and demonstrates for all to see its wanton and naked hypocrisy!
And I want to spend some time conversing with the Nevisian people on the hypocrisy of this CCM Government because this seems to be an Administration which has adopted the approach of do as I SAY and not as I DO.
No example could be greater than when the leaders of this administration whilst in Opposition cursed and condemned the NRP mercilessly for hiring Advisors at $6000 a month. But now that they are in Government, they have turned around to hire the very same people at $10,000 monthly, while only changing the name from “Advisors” to “Consultants”! A downright insult to the intelligence of the Nevisian people.
When in Opposition, the Concerned Citizens Movement castigated the NRP profusely for working with the Federal Government. Under no circumstances whatsoever were we to meet with Prime Minister Douglas to try and iron out important national issues. Yet, since being elected to office in January, every minute we see Premier Vance Amory heading down to Basseterre begging to have a meeting with the same Prime Minister Douglas who we were not supposed to meet with.
When in Opposition, the CCM said that NRP hired too many persons on the public payroll who had already passed the retirement age of 55 and who were already at home collecting pension. But now that they are at the helm of the NIA, they have been caught red handed bringing back numerous retirees and awarding them massive contracts, with the first being the Premier’s sister and the most recent one being yet another “Consultant”.
When in Opposition, they criticized the Hon. Patrice Nisbett and labelled him a “sell out” for accepting a post in the Federal Government as Attorney General. But now that they are in Government in Nevis, they are still seeking to sit in a Unity Government in St. Kitts with staunch Labour men like Sam Condor and Timothy Harris. The very same Labour men who they previously said that the Hon. Patrice Nisbett should NOT have sat in Government with. That my friends is the naked hypocrisy of this CCM Government.
We’ve had only 6 months of them thus far and not one single day have they been able to practice what they preached!
But even more than this Government’s naked hypocrisy, what truly troubles me is the ailing state of the Nevisian economy. Any day of the week, just take a casual walk through Charlestown, and instantly, you can sense how sluggish and stagnant the country is. At the moment, there exists no meaningful program for economic advancement. No sensible strategy for social upliftment. No well thought out plan for youth development.
At the point of demitting office, the NRP had in place soon to come on stream a state of the art Fisheries Complex to generate some activity in this country. The CCM in the name of politics fought it down and that now is gone! We had secured with investors an arrangement to have a fuel storage facility right here on the island in order to create additional jobs for our people. This the CCM also fought down and so now that too is gone. Under Hensley Daniel, a technical training program was put in place whereby our young at risk males were sent to Trinidad for 6 months to learn a skill and upon their return, they could find work and be better incorporated into the society. Even this program was criticized by the CCM and so POOF, that too is gone.
But what is really disturbing is that even in fighting down the NRP projects, they have proven themselves incapable and impotent when it comes to providing any alternative projects of their own. One would have thought that if you had so much to say about the taste of the food on the table, you would have been able to cook something better. But instead, the table is bare and the country is in a coma.
Presently, the state of Nevis brings to mind the image of a kidney patient, desperately in need of dialysis treatment to cleanse her of the impurities; which in this case is the CCM! Certainly, if this Government claims that things were bad before, they appear to be even worse now!
Perhaps somebody needs to tell this Government to go up into Stoney Grove or over Bath Village. Tell them to go to Cotton Ground or up in Gingerland. Tell them to visit these places and just listen to the young people cry out for work.
During the first 6 months of the NRP, we had projects being rolled out in this country like a red carpet to provide growth and economic opportunities for our citizens. During the first 6 months of this CCM, projects are being scaled back, while Ministers are overseas on Broadway and in Hollywood parading the red carpet to seek opportunities to grow their image and themselves.
During the first 6 months of NRP, roads were being constructed in Jessups, Cotton Ground and Cox. During the first 6 months of CCM, roads are being constructed to VON Radio.
During the first 6 months of NRP, an Environmental Program was implemented to help beautify the island and take our young men OFF the streets. During the first 6 months of CCM, the Environmental Program has largely ended and our young men have been placed right back ON to the streets.
During the first 6 months of NRP, we sought to unite this country and not maliciously dismiss people because we understood that Nevis is small and family ties run deep. During the first 6 months of CCM, scores of perceived NRP supporters have been sent home, forgetting that though some might support NRP, many might have a father to feed who is CCM.
It is reckless and abusive actions like these why no matter where in this country you traverse at the moment; be it Bath to Butlers, Main Street to Low Street, Brown Hill to Cole Hill, the people of this country are repeatedly singing the same refrain………“Little Nevis can’t take no more. We want back the Government that we had before!”
But the wreckage and the carnage under this Concerned Citizens Movement Government goes further because currently stationed at the Alexandra Hospital, is a much needed and long awaited Hemo-Dialysis Unit. And if it is we had to wait long to finally get this machine to Nevis, it appears that under this CCM, we will have to wait even longer to get it up and running.
Through the hard work and ingenuity of the former Minister of Health, Mr. Hensley Daniel, this dialysis machine was sourced at the cost of $600,000. The services of Dr. Walter Gardiner, a prominent nephrologist with his own dialysis centre in St. Croix, were solicited. Community health nurses trained in this area were already on hand, ready and willing to come to Nevis to assist with the management of the unit and take on as their apprentices our very own Nevisian people. And in spite of all this ground work having been done, all that we’ve received from this new Minister of Health is talk, talk and even more talk. His misguided approach to governance evokes the message of an old but popular dancehall song where the artist repeatedly sang the words, “ACTION! Not AH BAG AH MOUTH!”
I say to the people of this country, as I say to the Minister, that Mark Brantley in Government has been nothing but “AH BAG AH MOUTH”!
He says no “cost benefit analysis” was done by the previous administration when it opted to go the route of purchasing a Dialysis Unit. Well I say in response to the Minister of Health, what “cost benefit analysis” was done when your administration opted to go the route of moving from $6000 Advisors to $10,000 “Consultants”?
The Minister says that instead of establishing the Dialysis Unit in Nevis, we can send our patients to St. Martin, Anguilla and St. Kitts. Well I say in response to the Minister of Health, have you done your research and have you done it well? Because if you did, you would have realized that those countries; particularly St. Martin and Anguilla, are already filled and maxed out with patients, and given that their own people must be afforded first priority, they are now rejecting those in need of treatment from neighbouring islands.
The result is that we now have our own Nevisian people lying in a bed at the Alexandra Hospital and dying from kidney failure, while a state of the art Dialysis Unit sits in a container just a few feet away from what is potentially their death bed. In the mean while, all the Minister continues to do is TALK, TALK and TALK some more.
It appears that he has not yet understood that he is no longer in Opposition but he is now in Government, and what the people of this country want more than anything else right now is “ACTION! Not AH BAG AH MOUTH!”
But aside from the dialysis debacle, there remains the vexing issue of the dilapidated Hamilton Road. This is a project that touches my very core because the people of Hamilton are very dear to my heart. They were meted with bad treatment before under the CCM and it appears as though the CCM has returned to inflict them with more bad treatment again!
This Hamilton Road Project was started by the NRP before we left office. It is a project which took careful thought and planning because we wanted to address the wider drainage issue in Government Road, Stoney Grove and Charlestown at large. But it is a project that had to be done in order to provide much needed relief to my people in Hamilton and I ensured that before I left office, all the funds were sourced, the plans fully designed and the project well underway. It has been 6 months since this CCM has been in Government and there has been absolutely NOTHING on the Hamilton Road. In fact, were it not for mounting public pressure, it seems as though they did not intend to complete Government Road either.
As I look at the treatment being meted out to my people in Hamilton, I can’t help but recall the treatment that was once meted out to the people of Jessups and Cotton Ground, for no other reason than that they supported the Nevis Reformation Party. I say to this vindictive CCM Administration that not because the people of Hamilton vote overwhelmingly for me and the NRP…….FIX THE ROAD! Hamilton is a part of the country to! The people of Hamilton pay their taxes to.
I for one refuse to accept this worthless and nonsensical excuse that “NRP left no money in the treasury” because while they say no money is there in the treasury to fix the Hamilton Road, they find money in the treasury to hire all these “Consultants”. I refuse to accept all this political grandstanding that “NRP left the country brokes” because while they say that in one breath, in the other, this Administration finds the money to bring on to the Government’s payroll a whopping 14 of its party supporters over at the Port.
I want to say to the Premier and other members of his Government that some of you are constantly travelling to St. Kitts to preach oneness and “UNITY”. Well permit me to remind you that unity just like charity must first begin at home! So not because the people of Hamilton strongly support the NRP, please I beg you, just go and complete the road!
Last but certainly not least, I touch on crime. I touch on crime because 4 months ago during my budget presentation in the Nevis Island Assembly, I looked across the parliamentary aisle and I warned the Premier of this country that he was making a grave and dire mistake in not including anything in his budget on crime. I touch on crime because I vividly recall expressing my shock in the presence of the Government as to how they could bring a budget and not substantively elucidate any proposals whatsoever on crime. I touch on crime because the Deputy Premier when he was in Opposition was not only the Chief Spokesman on crime but he was the King Solomon on crime to………Oh how he knew it all!
But I ask of the nation, where are we today? Just where exactly are we today?
Presently, we find ourselves, a little island of 36 square miles, having already had 7 murders in just 6 months of this CCM Administration. That is 7 murders in 6 months under CCM. And while I do not blame this government as being the cause of crime, I believe that some of their policies and practices must be examined as potentially contributing to it.
I go back to the Environmental Works Program which was implemented not merely to serve a purpose of island wide beautification but which also had the objective of taking many of those young men off the streets and instead giving them the opportunity to help maintain the streets. Alas, many of these young men have been marginalized. I reference once again the social and technical training programs of Hensley Daniel which specifically targeted young males in our communities. Such programs appear to have been discontinued. I point to the efforts of local investors such as Greg Hardtman who were trying to promote projects that would embrace these young men in productive employment. Yet, these investors are being given a hard time, for no other reason than petty partisan politics.
You see, unlike the NRP led Government which had its mind set on the next generation, all that this CCM apparently sees is the next election. It matters not if it comes at the price of sinking this country further into abyss.
At this stage, I can’t help but begin to ponder that just as the leaders of this CCM Government seek to file motions of no confidence in St. Kitts, perhaps their misguided approach to governance may soon warrant the filing of a Motion of No Confidence in Nevis!
But though things may currently seem dreary, I say to the Nevisian people just as my political elders would have previously said to me………HOLD YOU CORNER! Though all is not well in Nevis; all is not lost.
I can assure you that I will continue to do my part in maintaining the watchful and vigilant eye of the Opposition, as we begin the process of redirecting this land of Oualie back into the hands of pragmatic and progressive leadership so that all can be well with our little Nevis again.
May God continue to guide and guard the Nevisian people.