I thank every Antiguan and Barbudan who was courageous enough, not to surrender to fear; not to succumb to despair; not to listen to the opportunistic voices of division, discord, doom and gloom.” – (The Honourable Gaston Browne, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda in his 2022 New Year’s Day Address).
The citizens of Antigua and Barbuda must adequately prepare themselves for what is expected to be an above-average hurricane season this Year, with predictions suggesting a 65% chance of an above-normal sea- son, a 25% chance of a near-normal season and a 10% chance of a be- low-normal season.
While weather watchers will be glued to their televisions, radios, and other media for daily updates on what is happening across the Atlantic Ocean, none will take for granted the machinations that are likely to occur in the twin-isle paradise
Surely, one must consider the political climate and those things that can also create a stir regarding who governs, and on whose behalf.
Political leadership and the effectiveness of governance for achieving development objectives will be questioned and shall remain under the microscope in the months ahead for those living in Antigua and Barbuda.
It is almost certain that the socioeconomic dislocations that affected the nation due to the untimely COVID-19 pandemic, coupled with the measures employed by the current government to safeguard the people will feature foremost in the minds of the voting population.
This is discernible, especially against the backdrop of criticisms from opposition entities who hardly gave the vital support that was necessary for dealing with an unprecedent- ed public health hazard which, carried the real potential to destroy numerous lives and livelihoods beyond imagination.
Not to be overlooked in the scheme of the prevail- ing conditions would be the self-inflicted damage that all contemporary political parties in the country seem bent on attracting or often fail to avoid. Taking an objective position, it becomes more important for voters to assess for themselves which political party offers them the most hope and which, on a balance of probabilities, can and will deliver on promises made.
Which of the current political parties can be trusted to ensure that the provision of public services is not thwarted by corruption, greed, or any other infelicities which derail the people from being the main beneficiaries of government’s development priorities?
Certainly, the record of the Gaston Browne-led Antigua and Barbuda La- bour Party (ABLP) in re- cent times far outshines the United Progressive Party (UPP).
Regardless and strictly based on what the ABLP has achieved since taking office in 2014 and then again in 2018 is the fact that while it shouts and push back, it is a party that delivers.
The same cannot be said under the UPP’s leader Harold Lovell. This beleaguered and ceremonial political leader does not sit in the Assembly in any capacity, nor has he successfully managed to repair a badly dimmed image.
Lovell’s intelligence is not in question, but as a rival without a ‘seat’ , he is not perceived by many as a serious contender to Prime Minister Browne; rather, Lovell fetches multiple negatives, suggesting that he is no more than an ageing rabble-rouser in constant opposition.
Meanwhile, the waves are likely to get higher and rougher for Lovell and the UPP. The Democratic National Alliance (DNA), un- der Joanne Massiah can become a spoiler, The DNA is a party indirectly formed out of a fallout from the in- civility and lack of strategic acumen that seemingly flourished with Lovell at the helm of the UPP
It remains highly un- likely that Massiah will achieve any significant success for the DNA. More- over, Massiah does not lend to the public discourse the needed impressions of a political leader ready for the looming political storm.
The DNA has not lifted its chances for electoral success and there is no hint that the leadership understands the necessity for creating sufficient stir to affectively communicate the DNA’s passage as an alternative government-in-waiting.
Plain and simple, Massiah typifies morality, a sense of wanting to do good, and sincerity, yet she will be perhaps more comfortable advocating and making calls for some particular action to remedy a situation, than to serve the people of Antigua and Barbuda from a position of being first among equals.
There is little doubt that the incumbent government would be returned to office if elections are to be called anytime during this hurricane season that runs from June 1st to November 30th.
Now is the time for preparedness and giving introspection to the public policies that are being formulated for the benefit of all citizens and residents of Antigua and Barbuda.
This is not the season to be confused nor should we be fooled into thinking that there is a perfect government anywhere in the world.
The Gaston Browne- led government so happens to be best for Antigua and Barbuda for now and into the foreseeable future.
For the last eight years, the Antigua and Barbuda people have seen the sustained efforts to shape and now revitalize the economy, create decent jobs in tourism and other productive sec- tors, provide for increased and affordable housing, re- visit and reform national laws guaranteeing justice for all, attend to climate change and the environment with focus on greatly boosting agricultural production, expand and enhance ser- vices in public health and education to safeguard our nation’s future.
Should we risk it all for the blind ambition that is leading the UPP? Should we the electorate place pious posturing over proven management at this time of global crisis that cries out for capable leadership?
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