Duke on Augustine’s review of his THA role: It is laughable, ridiculous

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Screenshot from a video Deputy Chief Secretary Watson Duke published on his Facebook page requesting aid for 27 Tobagonians from the Roxborough folk group who are currently in Brooklyn.

Progressive Democratic Patriots (PDP) political leader Watson Duke has described as “laughable and ridiculous,” Chief Secretary Farley Augustine’s announcement that he is reviewing his responsibilities as Deputy Chief Secretary.

Augustine made the announcement on Thursday at the post Executive Council media briefing, hours after Duke, in a video on his Facebook page on Wednesday, slammed the THA for not providing funding to assist some 27 members of the Roxborough Folk Performers who were due to perform at several cultural events in New York for Labour Day celebrations.

In a video posted on his page minutes after Augustine’s announcement, Duke said the Deputy Chief Secretary means nothing to him unless he can serve Tobago.

“So for the Chief Secretary to issue a veiled threat and say he is going to review my functions to me is laughable, ridiculous and he has to understand that while he is Chief Secretary of the Tobago House of Assembly, I am political leader of the PDP,” he said.

“And while you can take the State funds and perhaps wield and deal with it as your colleagues on the red side, you cannot wield and deal with it with the heart of man in that manner.

“The people are observing and taking notes and have recognised that you can now be deemed as ‘Liared Farley.’ So your words take on little credibility in a space where you were once deemed to be a virgin politician and one of great hope and integrity.”

Duke, who is also the assemblyman for Roxborough/Argyle, advised Augustine to not make any foolish decisions.

“I am calling you again. Before you make a foolish move which you will regret, think hard think twice. Pull yourself of that pedestal and humble yourself and let us reason this thing out.”

He added, “You cannot threaten the leader of a political party and emasculate him. You will walk into a political war zone which you will not win. But certainly which you will lose. So I want to caution you, humble yourself, chill out and let’s settle this issue.”

Duke said the members of the Roxborough Folk Performers are in dire straits.

“I had called upon the Tobago House of Assembly to step in and to fix the matter. I have called upon the hotshots who believe that they are policy-makers of the assembly, of which I am a part, to deal with this.”

He said the assembly should have met in emergency session to deal expeditiously with the issue.

“The members were belittled by the place that housed them and the treatment that was meted out to them and they continue to fight on and do what is necessary.”

Duke told Augustine the position of Chief Secretary is temporary.

“I wish to take this opportunity to warn my colleague and friend, the deputy political leader, who holds the position of Chief Secretary that those positions are temporary and subject to the ideals of man and he should not glorify in the authority he wields because of the position given to him but he should humble himself and deal with an issue that has had Tobagonians at their wits end.”

Duke said the question of who sent the Roxborough Folk Performers to New York is inconsequential.

“What is of merit is that the Tobago House of Assembly would have aided them in the purchase of their tickets and the Tobago House of Assembly cannot shirk its responsibility having purchased the tickets. It is now a matter in which the THA must become invested to the point where they look after these Tobagonians.”

He said the PDP was built on the back of Tobagonians who were facing the oppression from the PNM, which has led the assembly for 21 unbroken years