Leader of the Opposition and President of the New Democratic Party, Arnhim Eustace has ordered MP for South Leeward, Nigel “Nature” Stephenson, who has driven unlicensed and uninsured vehicle for five years, to appear before the party’s disciplinary committee on Jan. 20.
Eustace said in a statement on Friday that he has also instructed Stephenson to pay immediately all outstanding vehicle registration fees to the licensing authority, and insure the vehicle and rectify its legal ownership.
Writing under the rubric “wrong is wrong”, Eustace also outlined “the substance” of the report made to him by Stephenson.
“The Hon. Mr. Stephenson entered into an agreement with Mr. Bernard Punnett for the purchase of a Suzuki Escudo jeep bearing license number PS 759. In July 2009, Mr Stephenson accepted delivery of the vehicle and has been paying for the vehicle by instalments. At the time, the vehicle bore a 2009 registration sticker on its windshield which expired in September 2010, and which it continued to bear until December 2014, when mechanical problems forced Mr Stephenson to take the vehicle off the road.
“Mr. Stephenson consistently operated the vehicle in an unlicensed and uninsured state for the ensuing five years. This was wrong and we condemn it.
“Mr Stephenson has apologised orally and in writing for his conduct,” Eustace said.
Stephenson, in a separate statement on Friday, apologised “for what was a true lapse of judgment on my part.
“Whatever the challenges I may have faced, as a representative of the people, and legislator, I am held to a higher standard of conduct.
Please, accept my apology, and my assurance that this will never happen again,” the opposition lawmaker wrote. (Scroll for full text)
Eustace said that having been elected by the people of South Leeward to the House of Representatives, Stephenson is “rightfully held to a higher standard of accountability than his electors.
“In this respect, I state unequivocally that he has fallen short and has disappointed himself, his party and his country.
“The New Democratic Party — of which Mr. Stephenson is a member and I am leader — describes itself to Vincentians as intolerant of corruption and misbehaviour in public office; and on behalf of Vincentians, has adopted a critical posture in relation not only to the several misdeeds of the ULP (Unity Labour Party) Administration but the absence of any or any appropriate sanctions for those misdeeds.
“The process of restoring St. Vincent and the Grenadines begins, therefore, with us,” Eustace said and outlined his instructions to Stephenson.
Full text of Stephenson’s statement:
AN OPEN STATEMENT TO THE PUBLIC BY HON. NIGEL “NATURE” STEPHENSON
The people of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines have quite rightly been paying close attention, and commenting on the fact that I have driven an unlicensed and uninsured vehicle for the past five years.
I knew of my challenges to effect a change of ownership, for the vehicle, but that does not change the fact, that I had and have a responsibility to do all within my power, to pay to the Licensing Authority and Insurance Company, all fees due and outstanding to them.
I am sorry and I apologize for what was a true lapse of judgment on my part. Whatever the challenges I may have faced, as a representative of the people, and legislator, I am held to a higher standard of conduct.
Please, accept my apology, and my assurance that this will never happen again. Yours Respectfully,