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Pay more attention to foot soldiers—delegate

Monday, November 13, 2017
Soca artist Dexter “Blaxx” Stewart during his performance at the PNM convention yesterday. PICTURE ABRAHAM DIAZ

The ruling PNM needs to pay more attention to foot soldiers who feel alienated and Government Ministers, MPs and Senators need to make themselves more available, says PNM Laventille West delegate Wayne Griffith.

Griffith’s complaint came during yesterday’s PNM convention at the Queen’s Park Savannah. His observation received the longest, loudest applause during the morning session of the all-day event.

The theme of the 47th convention was “Embracing the Future with Confidence - Stronger Together.”

PNM chairman Franklin Khan opened the convention saying the PNM was in office just over two years in very challenging times. Detailing issues which PNM met in 2015 and how Government stabilised it, Khan added.

“In the challenging times, Government needs the unswerving support of the party. You have to support and stand behind our Prime Minister and party...through thick and thin. The current alternative is chaos and corruption...despite what detractors say, I know PNM is always red and ready,” he said.

However, calls for PNM’s executive, Government arms and party organs to improve operations, weaknesses and communication outreach was a majority theme among report submissions from delegates from constituencies all over T&T.

In that segment, Laventille’s Griffith called for attention to the relationship and lack of reporting between PNM, MPs, Senators and the Cabinet and the party’s base. More attention needs to be paid to PNM’s foot soldiers who feel alienated and only needed at election times while attention also needs to be paid to constituencies, he added.

“We need to bridge that gap - Ministers, MPs and Senators need to make themselves more available,” he said to rousing applause.

The Government also urgently needs to address the unemployment situation and constituency leaderships, Griffith said.He said a level of discrimination is perceived in the labour market concerning criteria for

Government contracts especially in the construction sector where small contractors and procurement requirements are concerned. He said big contractors who give smaller ones work, keep the bulk of the money for themselves.

Griffith called for urgent attention to East Port-of-Spain infrastructure which he said has been lacking since People’s Partnership (PP) days. But Griffith commended Prime Minister Keith Rowley and Finance Minister Colm Imbert for prudent economic management preventing job loss and maintaining stability.

Saying tough times require tough measures, Griffith urged colleagues, “Brother and sisters be strong. Don’t be ungrateful, let’s continue to support PNM, never give up on your team.”

Fyzabad delegate Wayne Wood said better analysis was needed to gauge members’ mood.

PNM Women’s League delegate Onika Haynes noting convention theme of PNM “being stronger”, said a chain is as strong as the weakest link. She said yesterday was an opportunity to strengthen links.

Haynes said some PNM committees need to do more work and the party’s school needs to be launched.Reminding PNMites of PP personalities, she urged, “PNM people, close ranks, strengthen the weak links and support the Prime Minister and MPs — strengthen the weaknesses and ensure we return to office for a long, long, long time.”

Delegate Vanessa Ford (POS North) said PNM’s Public Relations officer (POS North MP Stuart Young) “continues to fail to meet expectations” and needs more help. Delegate Colin Rodney said clear distinction needs to be made between party and Government’s PR strategy.

Arima delegate Cagney Cassimire suggested Women’s and Youth leagues assist in conveying party messages. Youth League delegate Wayne Inniss called for opportunities for youth to contribute to the party.


The next election will be fought on the basis of social media, Prime Minister Keith Rowley said yesterday.

Rowley intervened in the discussion on a proposal for PNM to have a social media officer at party executive level and in each constituency. It was among resolutions to be passed. While some supported it, one delegate said he supported it for constituency level only since having a social media officer on the executive appeared to duplicate the job of PNM’s Public Relations Officer.

Rowley, however, voiced support for the social media officer, indicating there was a need for it and the party needed to keep up with processes especially since the next election will be “fought on the basis of social media.”

The resolution was passed. Elections ahead from 2019, include Local Government and Tobago House of Assembly polls, then 2020 general election.

PNM chairman Franklin Khan, in an indirect reference to UNC’s internal elections, said the PNM doesn’t mind if people contest party elections since competition is good for democracy.

“Anyone can contest any post in PNM from political leader to the election officer. It’s expected people will contest and we realise there’ll be competition - but when the election is over we’re united. PNM is one family,” he said.

Fyzabad delegate Wayne Wood complained there was no report on a recent matter referred to PNM’s investigation team. It was obvious an reference to the issue concerning suspended member Harry Ragoonanan. Khan said one matter went to the team and is under probe, hence no report yet.


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