By Robertson S. Henry
From times immemorial, the pages of mankind’s history is replete with examples of men and women, child of both sexes, who took certain actions to uplift and protect their village, town, country, and or tribe.
Those same history pages are also populated with stories of men and women who used social programmes geared towards the upliftment of their countrymen, to further their selfish agendas.
The political annals of the Caribbean have records of many of the region’s leading political figures, sincerely championing the causes for human improvement of the Caribbean people.
However there are those politicians who only champion a cause because such would look good on their resume.
In a nutshell, leadership qualities have always been the focal point of a campaign, for without sincere and committed leadership, a political party would flounder on the rocks of media scrutiny and public opinion, candidates would go helter-skelter with their own agendas, and the leader and his party’s hierarchy would be a mouthpiece for those who would dearly love to decolonize the Caribbean.
Here in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, 41 years after attaining political independence from Great Britain, residents go to the polls to elect a new government, to manage the affairs of state on behalf of the people for another five years.
The leadership philosophy of Dr. Ralph Gonsalves versus that of Dr Godwin Friday; a socialist democratic with a people centered vision versus a corporate economist style, mixed with colonialist mentality, is what the people of the multi-island state has to choose from.
It has been said that when one is in leadership, he or she must always be prepared to put their money where their mouth is, or better still, back up their talk of caring for a people with tangible actions.
One example of this is the refurbishment of the pavilion at the Clive Tannis Playing Field in Bequia. During a Sitting of the House in 2013, a question was posed by Dr Friday in relation to the conditions of, and when would the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines seek to carry out repairs to the facility.
Dr Godwin Friday has been the Parliamentary Representative for the Northern Grenadines (Bequia included), for about 15 years.
In responding, Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves offered to donate EC$10,000.00 of his personal funds towards the repair costs of the pavilion. He also challenged Dr Friday to match his contribution with one of his own.
Subsequently, Dr Gonsalves would repeat his offer of a donation of EC$10,000.00 during a ceremony in Port Elizabeth, Bequia to open a health facility.
True to his word, by cheque dated April 04, 2013, Dr. Gonsalves donated the sum of EC$10,000.00 to the National Lotteries Authority for the repairs to be done to the pavilion at the Clive Tannis Playing Field.
To this day, seven years later, Dr Friday is yet to make any donation of any amount towards this project. When informed of this, many persons including residents of Bequia were shocked that Dr. Friday did not demonstrate his much touted care for the people of the Northern Grenadines by making a small contribution.
The pavilion has been repaired, and is being used regularly by residents of Bequia. Yet, as was the case by the former Parliamentary Representative who was also the Prime Minister, Bequia suffered from a lack of true leadership. This lack of leadership saw students being forced to use pit latrines at a time when the rest of the Caribbean except maybe Haiti, all had flush toilets in the schools.
Leadership is pivotal to the development of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and by extension, the wider Caribbean. The youth of this nation are in need of proper leadership skills, and leaders who will be sincere and committed are those who will have to teach these young ones, for they are the ones will take up leadership roles at various levels in this country.
St. Vincent and the Grenadines need leaders who have their stakeholders at heart; leaders who seek for prosperity for all, leaders who are achievers, leaders who are thinkers, and leaders who can take bold steps in favor of all.This is the type of leadership that St. Vincent and the Grenadines need now more than ever. Such leaders are not made but are born with a rebel seed, forged out of the fires fighting for justice, and this is the type of leadership Vincentians must choose come polling day next Thursday November 05, 2020.