PDP political leader Watson Duke, left, and former deputy leader Farley Augustine, at the Hyatt Regency earlier this year. FILE PHOTO/JEFF MAYERS –
THE worst form of betrayal. This was how Watson Duke, political leader of the Progressive Democratic Patriots (PDP), described Chief Secretary Farley Augustine’s first year of governing the Tobago House of Assembly (THA).
PDP won 14-1 against the PNM on December 6, 2021, in the THA elections.
In an interview with Newsday on November 4, Duke said Augustine has been having problems dealing with power. A month after this interview, all PDP members of the THA executive resigned from the party. They are now independents.
But even before that, Duke had been publicly expressing his disappointment in their performance in the assembly in the last quarter of 2022, particularly after he resigned as deputy political leader.
Duke claimed he had made “significant” attempts to speak with Augustine.
“He has promised the people of Tobago one thing and delivered very little or nothing of it within the first 100 days. But he has spent money in a fashion as if there was an abundance of it.
“He betrayed me as the political leader, and he betrayed his teammates, because it was supposed to be a team effort in transforming Tobago. I’m not sure who they are honest to, but betrayal is the only word that can come to my mind to describe his first year leading the assembly.”
Duke couldn’t think of one decision made in the past 12 months to praise the executive for, except “marketing themselves well. With all the posting on my personal profile to make it look like all is well in Tobago.
“People who have supported the change are still without jobs. They have disappointed me all of them and they have disappointed Tobago.”
During the interview, Duke called on Augustine to resign as chief secretary.
Asked where he thinks he went wrong, Duke said he disobeyed the voice of God.
“The Bible said ‘The hearts of men are desperately wicked, who can know it?’ I thought, contrary to the Bible, that I knew the hearts of my colleagues, I knew the heart of Farley Augustine.
“He’s having issues dealing with power, clearly, moving from a second-degree elder in Seventh Day Adventist Church and teaching about 20 children in Speyside (Secondary School) as an English teacher to leading 20,000 people and Tobago.
“But if you are taking counsel with a multitude of people, you will have wisdom. But again, who you listen to will determine what you do. I’m not sure who he’s listening to.”
Looking back at the night of December 6, 2021, Duke said he was filled with jubilation and excitement that a dream had finally come true.
“We were actually living in that moment when the revolutionary caught on, where the east wind would have captured all of Tobago.”
He accused the assembly of abandoning the PDP mandate used to sway voters.
Duke said he was disappointed that the executive failed to deliver on the promises of the first 100-day action plan. Financial rules, a Tobago police service, employment, tourism and housing among others should have been priority, he said.
He accused Augustine of behaving “like a juvenile political delinquent,” using premature findings from THA financial audits as a weapon “to emasculate people when there is no conclusion on it.”
He vows to ensure the mandate Tobagonians voted for comes to fruition, with or without the existing executive. And in 2023, he hopes Tobago gets what it needs.