In a dramatic change, the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) is looking to a youngster to take charge of its business on the sister isle of Carriacou & Petite Martinique.
The NDC Constituency branch of Carriacou and Petite Martinique has elected Tevin Andrews to replace cultural activist, Randolph Fleary as its Caretaker for the constituency which has been in the hands of the ruling New National Party (NNP) for the past 16 years.
Fleary was Congress’ candidate in the February 2013 general election and his stint at the helm came to an end on March 30.
In an exclusive interview with the New Today newspaper on Monday, Andrews said he would continue the trend that Fleary started during his reign as Caretaker.
He committed himself to “building on what he (Fleary) would’ve started and to ensure that the NDC brand is a force to be reckoned with and that the NDC brand is built back in such a way that people would be attracted to the National Democratic Congress here in Carriacou and Petite Martinique”.
Deputy Prime Minister Elvin Nimrod has been in charge of Carriacou & Petite Martinique Affairs since 1995.
Although the seat was won in the 1995 poll by Joan Purcell of NDC, the NNP won the national election and appointed current member of Parliament for St. George North-east, Tobias Clement as the Parliamentary Secretary for Carriacou & Petite Martinique.
Nimrod had ran as an independent candidate in the election and came second in the poll.
A New York-based barrister-at-law by profession, Nimrod was a member of NDC and was expected to contest the seat on the party’s ticket because the then incumbent, Prime Minister Nicholas Brathwaite had indicated that he would not seek re-election for a second term in office.
Amidst alleged disagreements with Brathwaite’s timing to make the announcement about a possible successor, Nimrod broke ranks with Congress and decided to contest the seat as an independent candidate.
NNP tried to woo him to run on the party ticket in the 1995 poll but Nimrod rejected the offers that were made to him by at least three envoys who were dispatched to meet with him.
Within months of winning the June 1995 general elections, newly elected Prime Minister Mitchell was able to get Nimrod to join the government and take over as Parliament Secretary for Carriacou & Petite Martinique as Clement was sent on a scholarship to study overseas.
He has maintained a stranglehold on the seat with victories in the 1999, 2003, 2008 and 2013 general elections.
Andrews, being a youth himself said he would use that to his advantage in an effort to create a larger support base in Carriacou and Petite Martinique for Congress.
“Sixty four percent of the electorate is made up of young people and since I have youth on my side of course I’m going to use that influence to influence the young people in the community and in my constituency to get on board to rally round the National Democratic Congress,” he told THE NEW TODAY.
According to the newly elected NDC Caretaker, it is time enough that the Sister isle had a good representative once again from the NDC banner and that is what he is trying to bring about.
He said the people on the sister isle need “someone that would stand for the people of Carriacou and Petite Martinique, someone that would demand more for the people of Carriacou and Petite Martinique, someone that would stand up in Parliament and would bring across strong arguments so that Carriacou and Petite Martinique will indeed get its fair share”.
Andrews said he has already started that process, adding that the
change in caretaker is being welcomed by NDC supporters on the two small islands.
“People are actually gravitating, people are actually satisfied, people are happy that a youth has been elected as Caretaker and is getting involved in politics. Over the years we’ve seen that Pensioners and JCBs being the caretakers and politicians and when you can have a young person, someone who actually grow up here in Carriacou and taking the bull by the horn, people are gravitating to that,” he remarked.
“…Our membership has dramatically grown …my parents who were NNP supporters are now NDC supporters and what we are finding is persons who were NNP supporters are now boldly coming on board with the NDC – actually becoming members of the party,” he said.
The NDC brand that is being built in Carriacou, according to Andrews, should help propel the party forward on the two islands of Carriacou and Petite Martinique in time for the next general elections.
Although general elections are not constitutionally due until 2018, speculation is rife that PM Mitchell will call the poll in either late 2016 or early 2017 to coincide with the end of the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) that has seen his regime impose sweeping tax increases on the population.