Full resignation letter of Dr. Cleon Athill

The content originally appeared on: Antigua News Room
Cleon Athill

Shawn NicholasGeneral SecretaryUnited Progressive PartyFebruary 22, 2024

Dear Madam:

Greetings. Trust that you are in the best of health and spirits.

It is with much sadness that I pen this advisory and even sadder that I am moved to a position to pen it.

About three years ago after much deliberation, and at the chilling exhortation of my eldest son, Tijani to be the change I wished to see, I answered the call to enter into electoral politics. I was excited to be part of the UPP’s slate heading into the upcoming General election. I understood it as a call for me to make a difference, and I accepted it with a strong resolve and welcomed the UPP as the platform/machinery for that to happen.

I quickly set about the business of the campaign: gathered my team, did a SWOT analysis, defined campaign ethos, and developed and articulated the campaign strategic plan. Team Athill went about its business strategically. Its approach, the community engagement community empowerment approach, behooved us to adopt a new campaign style, aimed at bringing the community together instead of dividing it. I can say without any fear of contradiction that we did manage to move the constituents beyond what was expected. The outcome of the election bore testimony to this.

The road though has not been an easy one. This is because I chose to engage in the political space differently and endeavoured to run a positive campaign.  Over the course of the campaign, I heard that I had a different style, and it quickly became obvious that this so-called different style found no favour with the leadership of the party nor with the campaign management team. The party leadership

would be in a better position to elucidate its position and actions regarding this.

It is also apparent that this “style” continues to be an issue, and it will continue to be an issue because it reflects the essence of who I am, an epitome of my philosophy and theory of change, Further, this style appears to be antithetical to the UPP ethos. Consequently, the past three years of my association with the UPP and my involvement in the campaign have presented my most serious existential dilemma/challenge. It has caused me to question myself, politics, our political maturity, opposition ideology and mentality, partisan and tribal culture and so on…and I’ve seen how much of the game we play for politics undermines/ thwarts the forward movement of our beloved country.   I know we can do better. We can be better. Antigua and Barbuda deserves better.

With that said, I write to advise that I resign my position as caretaker and my association with the United Progressive Party.

I continue to be a champion for the changes that we talk about for the development of Antigua and Barbuda and for St Paul.

I wish to thank all those who believed in me, encouraged me, prayed for me, and journeyed with me over those last three years. They’ve provided a sounding board for sharing perspectives, and they’ve provided shoulders to lean and cry on. Thanks for helping me to know that a new way is indeed possible and strengthening my resolve to pursue it.

I believe in the collective power of our people to transcend the uncertainties of now.  I believe in St Paul and its expressed desire to be better. And I continue to celebrate their expressed declaration that they are “no ordinary constituency”.

Finally, I wish to thank the UPP for the opportunity to serve the way I did over the last three years. I wish however to highlight a few observations and urge the party to pay urgent attention to them if it is to stand out from among the pile of “all ah dem ah de same”

Problematic leadership style and organizational culture: Leadership style and structure to reflect a more democratic and transformational approach
Poor support to branches: The support given to capacity building, particularly at the branch level
Divisive primaries: Revisit its position and practice viz a viz primaries as a way of choosing candidates. These tend to be divisive and disruptive.
Opposition mentality: Rethink its role and function as opposition
Lack of philosophical grounding: A well-defined and articulated political philosophy and change theory that aligns with what is in the best interest of Antigua and Barbuda

All the very best to you as you continue to fine-tune the party for and in the interest of Antigua and Barbuda.

RespectfullyCleon AthillCleon Athill, Ph.D.

Cc: Clarissa ChristopherChair, St Paul UPP Branch

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