Roxborough residents concerned over future of PDP

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

PDP political leader Watson Duke is swarmed by supporters in Roxborough after his party won the THA election on December 6, 2021. –

ROXBOROUGH/ARGYLE residents say they are disappointed with Progressive Democratic Patriots’ (PDPs) political leader Watson Duke’s public condemnation of Chief Secretary Farley Augustine and the Tobago House of Assembly (THA).

Last Wednesday, Duke posted a video on his Facebook page, criticising the assembly for abandoning some 27 members of the Roxborough Folk Performers who had gone to New York to perform at several events during Labour Day celebrations. The group returned to Tobago on Monday.

Duke claimed that outside of airfare, the assembly did not provide additional funding for the group during the trip.

But Augustine told media last Thursday that the assembly did provide $400,417.50 in financial support to the group to cover airline tickets and some of their expenses.

He also said the THA did not send the group to New York but agreed to sponsor a part of the trip.

On that occasion, Augustine said he was reviewing Duke’s role as Deputy Chief Secretary because he has not been fulfilling several of his responsibilities.

Duke, who has since fired Augustine, Dr Faith BYisrael (Secretary of Health, Wellness and Social Protection) and Alicia Roberts-Patterson as PDP deputy political leaders, has also criticised the assembly for not fulfilling one of its mandates – job creation.

He warned Augustine against being consumed by the trappings of power.

On Tuesday, a resident of Argyle, which Duke has represented since 2017, said she was disappointed by his “attack” on Augustine and the THA administration.

“When I first got on to the internet and saw what he did, I think he was so wrong for a big man. That is not how you do things. Yuh fighting against your own self. And a house divided against itself will never stand,” said the woman, who did not want to be named.

“For me, I am totally disappointed in Mr Duke. I expected better of him. But then what is in a man’s heart that is what he put out to the world. So maybe that was in him so he now putting it out to the world.”

She said Augustine also should not have said publicly that he was reviewing Duke’s performance as Deputy Chief Secretary.

“I definitely thought that Mr Farley should have kept his mouth shut and leave Mr Duke to rumble and rumble. because they say empty vessels make the most noise. But that has not happened.”

The woman said while she is not fully apprised of the details surrounding the group’s trip to New York, “Farley should have left the man to rumble until it have nothing else to rumble about.

“My parents always tell us that when you shake your head the world knows that your head hurt you, but when you shake your heart nobody knows. It means therefore that if you have a plan and you open your mouth and speak out that plan everybody knows what you are about to do.. How could you fight and be victorious while speaking out your plan?”

On whether she feels the two men will reconcile their differences, the woman would only say, “Let us see how it will play out.”

The woman also said she was disappointed with Duke’s representation in the electoral district.

“In my view, the people of Roxborough have not been represented properly by Mr Duke. While he is in Trinidad sharing schoolbooks, vouchers, sharing bread. I eh see him do nothing here in Roxborough. And I am not seeing any development in Roxborough to say well at least he did something.”

Another Argyle resident, Lyndon Bascombe, also believes Duke could have handled his grievances with Augustine and the THA differently.

“If they had a disagreement, they coulda handle it a different way,” he told Newsday.

“He (Duke) coulda call the man on the phone and find out what going on because at the end of the day is we party, instead of putting it on social media. Right now you have the people feeling as if you give the man the position and want it back. I find is a kind of disrespectful move.”

Saying that disagreements are a normal part of life, Bascombe said, “Teeth and tongue does reach so I hope they could make it up, because is a new party and they have to deal with it the right way.”

A Roxborough man, who claims to have been a father figure to Duke in his youth, regarded Duke’s public chastisement of the THA as disheartening.

“He has embarrassed the whole world with this situation and a lot of people are also embarrassed,” he said.

The man said he was, up until recently, a staunch Duke supporter.

“I don’t know what kind of thing is this he getting on with. I wish Farley could go ahead and form he own party now.”

He claimed Duke was in Roxborough on Monday night in an effort to whip up support.

Grace Powder, who has been living in Roxborough for about a year, said she is hoping the rift between Duke and Augustine will be resolved.

She said she is yet to understand the reason for the feud.

“I have no idea what is going on there. I just do not understand it. I am hearing everything, I am seeing everything, but I don’t understand. If somebody could explain it to me I will be very grateful,” she said.

“I know Watson and I know Farley – two very lovely guys. So when I say I don’t understand, that is exactly what I mean.”

Powder said she talked to Duke on Monday night.

“We have a good thing going.”

Scarborough resident Darren Jones said the power struggle between Duke and Augustine will affect Tobago.

“The people asked for change and seeing how this issue has developed, we will have major problems; if they cannot work as a team – God help us,” he said.

Jones urged Duke and Augustine to put their differences aside for the good of the island.

“I would like them to work together again, seek the interest of the Tobago people and get this small-mind thing out of the way and see about building the island. What the Tobago people need is leadership, not dictatorship. That is what the people of Tobago always wanted. This is why they voted for the change, to get out of the PNM.”

Jones said the issue is not about politics but leadership.

“What the people want is leadership and if you don’t have leadership you are not getting anywhere.”

Jones said the PDP, which won the December 6, 2021, THA election, by a landslide, must serve for the remainder of its term.

“If that team is destroyed, there is nothing.”