Written by T. Coreentje Phipps-Benjamin Posted On: Monday, 23 July 2012 Last Updated: Wednesday, 25 July 2012
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Amidst countless challenges, the federation of St. Kitts Nevis bears a wealth of appeal to the vacationer who is typically moved by the beauty of the rolling hills, charmed by the splendour of the beaches and delighted by the high spirits the people exude.
For many a visitor, the islands are a rare blend of nature's treasures that should be thoroughly soaked up. Many would agree that together these twin islands in the heart of the Eastern Caribbean, is a people friendly paradise that can soothe a broken spirit and revive even the most drab soul.
Alas, once the novelty of the islands' beauty sinks in, and wears off for that matter, the hard truth about the hard knocks that many citizens are currently enduring soon unravels. As the layers are peeled back, the reality only worsens. In the midst of our financial woes and given the scores of social maladies and everything in between, many wonder what kind of St. Kitts and Nevis we are developing today that would make life better for all citizens tomorrow.
While no one individual has all the answers to steer the embattled ship of state in the right direction, it seems the people often know when the captain's compass has lost its rightful bearing. Here we are, a twenty nine year old independent nation of diverse people seething with wonder and fear about the direction our federation will take as the cloud of doubt hangs over the head of the Captain.
This past Tuesday's decision by PAM’s opposition leader Mr. Lindsay Grant to resign from his role as leader of the party is testimony that leadership must be about the PEOPLE and ultimately, the COUNTRY. For the ambitious lawyer and politician, the decision could not have come easily, and in the short term, his party may be challenged as to the best strategy to rebound and restore some order to the organization in order to be relevant during the next election. However, a steadfast fight to dictate the direction of an entire party and a nation was clearly not worth it for Mr. Grant. For his decision, long awaited by many, he deserves commendation.
Of course, there are a host of questions that political pundits will ask.
Who will be the new leader of the PAM? Why wasn't one named on
Tuesday? When will the new candidates be launched? Who are they? Will the party consider a national unity government? Does the PAM envision two years as enough time to present solid candidates to contest the next general elections?
Interestingly, on Tuesday morning, as the PAM leader Lindsay Grant stepped down, the cost of living remained on the rise; in fact the IMF projects zero growth in the economy this year; electricity rates still wrap like a noose around the necks of ordinary citizens; the 17% VAT increase continues to hurt the small man most.
As Lindsay Grant stepped down, the alarm has gone up as the number of crimes–some serious, others petty - that have been reported across both islands;
As Lindsay Grant stepped down, our Prime Minister, the Right Honourable Denzil Douglas stepped up his campaign to attract foreign investors to the country with a team that did not include the Honourable Sam Condor, the federation's Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister.
As Lindsay Grant stepped down, the powers that be have stepped up an aggressive effort to mete out the SIDF funds to a slew of initiatives.
As Lindsay Grant stepped down, the spin-doctors who have long defended the poor leadership of the Prime Minister that has helped to stunt our federation's development has stepped up their campaign, not to empower their fellowmen, but rather, to secure more time to line their pockets at the expense of the poor of course.
In St. Kitts and Nevis, the people, particularly young people, need our leaders to STEP up or STEP down. The passion to be PAM, NRP, CCM or LABOUR is insignificant because the colour of a shirt does nothing to ease the financial burdens that plague the ordinary family in Brown Hill, Nevis or Saddlers, St. Kitts.
The people need leaders capable of mapping a way out of the financial ruin that has befallen us. They want the once thriving middle class to rebound and for a peaceful nation that was the epitome of other island nations to be restored.
At this juncture in our history, young people couldn’t care less about which political party steps up to help secure their future. They are less interested in playing political chairs. For them, it's about the benefit they will derive as a result of the politicians who step up. The people will support the leader that lives by the example he preaches. They will follow the politician who steps up. As one renowned American author suggests: “Step up and your mind will mobilize all its forces to your aid. Once the battle is started, all that is within and without you will come to your assistance”.
The warm blue ocean gently hugs the shoreline, motioning back and forth along the coastline of the twin island paradise. The calm denotes a peaceful and unspoiled haven that strikingly appeals to almost everyone who descends on the islands’ shores. It is the sort of calm that begs to be bottled and packaged neatly to accompany each of us on every journey we make away from the lands we call home, St. Kitts and Nevis the Gibraltar and Queen of the West Indies.
The picturesque and historically rich tourist destination of St. Kitts and Nevis that we hail as ours, now pushes back at us demanding that we step out of our comfort zones and allow the good we can do collectively speak louder than any political party ever will.
When the people step up, no government or opposition can withstand the might of the people. Instead, they will be forced to stand with the people.
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