Analyst: Duke’s Trinidad ambitions premature, irrational

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday


FILE PHOTO: PDP political leader Watson Duke with a PDP flag during a walkabout in Roxborough/Argyle. –

Progressive Democratic Patriots (PDP) political leader Watson Duke’s declaration that his party intends to contest every election in the country is premature, according to political analyst Dr Shane Mohammed.

Duke, the outgoing president of the Public Services Association (PSA), raised eyebrows after making the statement in a social media video on Thursday as he cleared his office at PSA, Abercromby Street, Port of Spain. He officially steps down on December 31 to take up full-time work as THA deputy chief secretary and assemblyman for the electoral district of Roxborough/Argyle.

PDP, formed by Duke in 2016, won the December 6 THA elections by a landslide, 14-one against the People’s National Movement (PNM).

In an interview with Newsday on Friday, Mohammed said, “Timing is something that is important.

“A day in politics is like a lifetime, and Mr Duke’s statements are premature at this point in time, given the fact that the PDP has only just wrestled the THA from the PNM. We need to give them an opportunity to settle in and to do the work that is required in the governance of Tobago.”

He said there are a plethora of issues that the PDP administration must address within the assembly. “expenditure and the costs of projects, cost overruns, the fact that there is a need to create a serious economic niche for Tobago, issues as it relates to the financial status of Tobago in terms of what is in the coffers for the Tobago economy.

“We have to look at what the Central Government will allocate to Tobago in the 2022/2023 budget – even in the mid-year review. Those are things that are very much more important in the Tobago context and to the Tobago people.

“Sport and youth affairs, health and wellness, trade and industry – you name it, there is a deficiency that exists and must be addressed, and it’s not going to happen overnight.”

He said Tobagonians recognised the hard job facing the new THA administration, but Duke’s statement seemed to dismiss it.

“It comes down to Mr Duke making premature statements and it’s as if he has no time, he doesn’t have anything important to do but make wild statements. And even if it was so – who would be Prime Minister, Mr Duke? Who is voting for Watson Duke as Prime Minister when the people of Tobago voted overwhelmingly for Farley Augustine for Chief Secretary of the THA?”

Duke, he said, “needs to stop with the rash and the random and the sporadic statements. He needs to focus on one thing and one project at a time. He’s still not sure where he stands in terms of his role in the THA – he’s not sure if he wants to be in the THA or he wants to be in the PSA. He’s all over the place and the level of his disorganisation of thought makes the public question his rationale.”

Instead, Mohammed advised Duke to “take a background, assist where he can in the Tobago context and provide guidance if he can, and understand that he is in an administration people have a lot of hope in and focus on that.”

He said Duke is not taking into consideration that the next general election and THA election are both constitutionally due by 2025.

“So, really and truly, Mr Duke needs to have discipline in his thought and rational thinking from a political perspective.”