Former Prime Minister Tillman Thomas has officially stated that he would not seek re-election as Political Leader of his party at the February 2 Convention of the National Democratic Congress (NDC).
The way is now clear for the party to elect a new political chief to help breathe new life into the organisation following its massive 15-0 defeat at the polls almost one year ago.
The new leader has one thing going in his or her favour – the party has a solid support base and was able to get just over 20, 000 plus persons to vote for it in the February 19, 2013 general elections.
The task ahead for the new leader is to attract another 15, 000 persons in the next four years to launch a serious challenge to take back the seat of government from the ruling New National Party (NNP) of Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell.
The new person can take some comfort from the fact that an estimated 10, 000 persons who were registered to vote in the last poll did not bother to do so and can safely be placed in the category of not supportive of the current rulers.
Mr. Thomas brought some positives with him to Congress as a leader and it is still open to see whether his decision to withdraw might result in some of his admirers and supporters also taking a back seat.
As the NDC look towards electing a new leader, THE NEW TODAY would caution the party to take the exercise very serious because the decision could impact seriously on the country for many years.
Our view is that the new leader should be one who can attract a substantial following from outside of his own group.
In other words, the NDC does not need an NDC Prime Minister. The party must look towards a leader who can bring to Congress in sufficient numbers the people who can help to make the difference in helping to position the party to be victorious at the next polls.
The new leader would also be charged with the responsibility of hitting “the ground running” from February 3 in order to help with the rebuilding process.
One of the major task ahead is to put together a realistic economic and financial plan to deal with the multitude of problems plaguing Grenada.
The new NDC leader would have to attract some of the best brains – whether Grenadian or foreign – to help put together the kinds of policies and programmes to deal with the fiscal mess that Grenada has found itself in.
One person who immediately comes to mind is Dr. Brian Francis, a very qualified economist with expertise in macro-economics, and who can bring fresh ideas to the table.
The last NDC government made a serious mistake by not engaging Dr. Francis and other capable and competent Grenadians to offer another approach to the way in which the Ministry of Finance was running things in a very difficult world order.
In looking back, THE NEW TODAY would like to give some credit to the departing Tillman Thomas who was never really given a fair and realistic chance to govern the island.
Mr. Thomas suffered an almost similar fate to late Prime Minister Maurice Bishop except that he is still alive today to reflect on the demise of the Congress government in office due to the betrayal of his once trusted lieutenants.
Like Bishop, the Congress leader allowed a Judas to rise up from within the bowels of his party and suffocate the hopes and aspirations of those who voted for positive change in the 2008 general elections.
If only Bishop, with all his charisma had ruled his own party with an iron fist, then the likes of Bernard Coard, Liam James and Ewart Layne would not have become so powerful enough to eventually seek to remove him from his positions within the State and the party.
Mr. Thomas made the same mistake of allowing a Judas to become very powerful by occupying one of the most influential positions within the party and to use it to destabilise the government and party in very much the same way the OREL Group attempted to seize the Grenada Revolution that led to its eventual demise on October 19, 1983.
The NDC missed a glorious opportunity in the 2008 to 2013 period to bring about the political death once and for all of the leader who is primarily responsible for the grave and severe financial and economic crisis that Grenada has been plunged into and might not be able to get out of for many years.
As leader of Congress and his government, Mr. Thomas made the cardinal error of failing to realise that he had to deviate from his deep held democratic beliefs and to send the message loud and clear to all and sundry that he was the one elected by the electorate to govern and that there will be no power-sharing.
The late Eric Gairy confided in some that he never trusted his Minister without Portfolio the deceased Derek Knight to the point that he would not allow him to contest a seat in national elections to become a Member of Parliament in the elected house.
Gairy’s fear was that an elected Knight might seize the opportunity to get other elected MP’s to side with him and eventually make a pitch for the Prime Ministership.
If the NDC does the right thing politically, the party would certainly be able to bounce back in short order to seriously challenge once again for State power.
If the delegates on February 2 elect into office the wrong person to replace Mr. Thomas then the task ahead would only become more difficult as NDC seeks to rebrand itself for elections that can even come long before 2018.