Augustine: Duke’s resignation a minor hurdle

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Chief Secretary Farley Augustine – THA

CHIEF Secretary Farley Augustine has described the resignation of former deputy chief secretary Watson Duke as a minor hurdle.

Speaking to Newsday at the National Academy for Performing Arts (NAPA) during the Mexico Independence Day celebrations, Augustine said he is not frustrated and has not lost focus on the objectives.

He wished Duke well in his future endeavours heading into the upcoming local government elections and thanked him for his service.

Last Thursday, Augustine announced plans to review Duke’s portfolio after Duke’s video last week condemning the THA for “abandoning” the Roxborough Folk Performers in New York.

In response, Duke warned Augustine there would be repercussions for challenging the PDP founder and political leader.

He later stripped Augustine of his PDP deputy leader position.

Augustine hit back, daring Duke to bring a motion of no confidence in the next assembly sitting and let the assemblymen decide.

Duke resigned as deputy chief with immediate effect on Thursday. At a press conference, he said he would not fight Augustine, but promised to be a watchdog and hold Augustine and his team accountable.

At NAPA, Augustine seemed to be the man of the hour. Many people approached him to offer words of advice and encouragement.

Augustine told Newsday he isn’t concerned about making enemies with a former ally. He said his team will remain focused on the ongoing transformation and development of Tobago.

“I am prepared to go in a direction that Tobago wants us to go and we are confident we are heading in that direction.

“This is certainly a hurdle along the way, but we never thought for a moment that the process of transforming Tobago would be easy.

“I am still grateful for Mr Duke and his contribution. I thank him for what he has given us thus far and I wish him the best. I know he has set his eyes on Port of Spain, and I hope his next adventure is better than the one he is leaving behind.”

Asked about the chaos surrounding the THA agreeing to part-sponsor the Roxborough group’s trip at the last minute, Augustine said, “I think I held a very clear position. I felt that we operated on the matter of support for this folk-performing group well and above board.”

He said he was open to criticism and allowed his assemblymen to agree or disagree.

“I held a full position and I did say to Duke, since he has expressed a loss of confidence in me, that I was going to allow him and all the other members of the team to remove me as chief secretary – because they do have that right.”

Augustine said he would publicly respond to Duke’s resignation after meeting with his team on Friday.

“I am very much focused on the job at hand… I am grateful Tobago continues to support me and the team. Their support has been overwhelming. When you walk the ground in Tobago, they are saying they can see the vision unfolding.

“We will remain focused. We are not stressed about the matter because we understand there is a far greater value than the party, it is the transformation of the island. And that means cleaning up quite a mess, it means having to refocus Tobago, it means going to war with the status quo to change, but doing what is necessary to ensure Tobago improves.”