By Grenadian Class
A prophet has no honour in his country. It’s very rare that a great leader receives national and international recognition while they are still alive. Nelson Mandela comes to mind as the only world leader who stands tall as a man that is well respected and honoured by all ethnic groups of the world. His uncompromising stance against apartheid in South Africa and his willingness to die for his principles are worthy of great commendation. It is therefore not a coincidence that, as he battles ill health, the entire world is praying for his speedy recovery.
Nelson Madiba Mandela is a leader who believes in equal rights and justice for all. He spoke out forcible against wrongdoings, irrespective of the perpetrator. The entire world honours Nelson Mandela.
Ronald Reagan, the 40th president of the United States, has been honoured with the naming of an international airport, the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, and a museum after him. The people of Grenada are very familiar with this leader since he was the US president during the US invasion of Grenada in October of 1983.
Maurice Bishop, who ironically was the Prime Minister of Grenada during the same period, was honoured in 2008 with the naming of the Maurice Bishop International Airport. Maurice Bishop, in my view, was the best Prime Minister ever in Grenada. He was responsible for changing in a positive way the social, economic and political landscape of the country.
Ronald Reagan did the same. He restored American supremacy following the lacklustre presidency of Jimmy Carter. Reagan and Bishop were honoured after their deaths.
Dr Mitchell, the current Prime Minister of Grenada, should be honoured one way or the other. Some political pundits have indicated that the Grenada national stadium should be named after him. Grenada constructed two national stadiums in less than ten years. The first stadium cost the country over $159 million, only to be destroyed by hurricane Ivan. The first stadium was poorly constructed. Many unanswered questions still remain regarding the construction of the first stadium.
The second stadium was constructed by the Chinese after Grenada severed diplomatic relations with Taiwan. The national stadium is the single most important piece of infrastructure constructed during the first three terms of the NNP.
The Prime Minister may be in agreement with those who believe that the national stadium should be named after him. I personally don’t share that view because of the fact that the first stadium cost the country so much money to build and couldn’t even withstand a category 3 hurricane. It would be inappropriate to honour him in that way.
How then should the country honour the Prime Minister? Should Parliament endorse the construction of a special monument? The country doesn’t have the money to do so. What about the new docks? This piece of infrastructure doesn’t have the prestige and grandeur to honour a leader who has created political history in so many ways, positive and negative. He led his party to two very successful election victories and is the longest serving Prime Minister and Member of Parliament.
Apart from being the mastermind behind the construction of the national stadium, there isn’t any other major national or international accomplishment of Dr Mitchell and his NNP administration except for the creation of a massive national debt of close to $2 billion dollars.
This debt gets the attention of the local, regional and international community including the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. It will have an effect on every single citizen of Grenada, those already born and those not yet conceived for decades to come.
Dr Mitchell is still alive and so it will be fitting to honour him by naming our national debt the Dr Keith Mitchell National Debt. The people have given him the opportunity to enjoy this recognition while he is still alive so that he can deliver with the anticipation of a much better life.
Given his many feats of the past and immediate future, his charisma and savvy, a proven political tiger and bully, Dr Mitchell is well positioned and is desirable of such a prestigious honour.
Hon. Anthony Boatswain and Hon. Nazim Burke are too much of poor economists to be honoured in such a way. The only local politician who has the capability to ensure that this award is meaningful is the Prime Minister. The buck stops with him.
As a people, let us wait and see how the International Monetary Fund and Standard and Poor’s will rate the way PM Mitchell is honoured. We will all have to monitor his performance upon receiving such an honour.
Will the IMF have to intervene to ensure that the right bolts and screws are used to repair and stabilise the nation’s vault or will the Prime Minister just allow the country to have a rollercoaster ride?
Come December when the entire country will be honoured with the presentation of the national budget we certainly will know.
Nelson Mandela, that international icon, brought a much better life to the black people of South Africa. They became free men and women with equal rights as the white man in their country. It was not an easy road but he succeeded after spending 27 years in jail.
I have absolutely no doubt that he will emulate Nelson Mandela and deliver. By accepting the Dr Keith Mitchell National Debt Award he will be able to improve the living standard of all Grenadians. There is no other leader that can do it. Dr Mitchell is the man. He has the intellect, experience, knowledge, capability and network to manage such an award. He will not fail because he has never failed before.
Through his courageous and committed leadership he was able in less than fifteen years to increase the value of this award from $340 million to a mammoth $1.8 billion.
I know that Helen Grenade will agree with me that if there is one leader in the world to manage this award properly it’s her political leader. This award is extremely important to the Grenadian people, its history and civilisation.
Dr Mitchell is fully aware of this knowing the implication of him receiving of such a high honour has on the self esteem and survival of the people. Like Helen, I am very optimistic. Dr Mitchell never failed his country and its people yet.