First-time candidate Sen. Jomo Thomas has contrasted realities in St. Vincent and the Grenadines under his Unity labour Party (ULP) and the main opposition New Democratic Party (ULP), telling ULP supporters to “remember not to forget”.
“Join with me in saying, comrades, that change is coming to South Leeward. Proper representation is coming to South Leeward,” Thomas told a ULP rally in Vermont on Sunday.
“Consistent, strong, forceful and articulate advocacy is coming to South Leeward,” said Thomas, who is trying to unseat the NDP’s Nigel “Nature” Stephenson, who is seeking a second term in office.
“And comrades, the developments in South Leeward mean that the Unity Labour Party, the representation that we are seeing here tonight, this means that another big victory is coming to Unity Labour Party and this country under the leadership of the Prime Minister, Ralph Gonsalves,” he said.
Thomas said that the NDP leadership says that their slate of candidates is the best ever in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
“We are here to say hogwash,” said Thomas, adding that he does not compare both party’s candidates.
“All I want to say is that candidate for candidate, the ULP slate is far superior to that offered by the NDP,” he said.
Thomas said that on the issues of leadership and experience, education, training and skill, the ULP team is “better by far”.
He said the ULP has exactly what the NDP lacks.
Thomas said there is an abundance of youth in Minister of Agriculture, Saboto Caesar and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sen. Camillo Gonsalves, and Sen. Luke Browne and first time candidate, Carlos James
“I, Jomo Thomas, continue the process of youthing and become stronger and wiser,” said Thomas, who is 55.
“PM Gonsalves is nimble — and you saw him demonstrate it — in both feet and mind. You have seen the dance moves. Man for man, party for party, the NDP cannot handle us.”
He, however, told party supporters that they allowed the NDP to come “just that little too close last elections”.
In the December 2010 poll, the ULP lost four of the 12 seats it previously held, but was returned to office by a one seat majority, taking eight of the 15 parliamentary seats.
“This must never happen again,” Thomas told ULP supporters, adding, “We must push the NDP back from the hallways and corridors of power.”
Thomas told the rally that ULP can achieve this “by doing a number of good things”
Thomas said ULP supporters must “remember not to forget”
“And this Unity Labour Party has worked to push back the blight which plagued our nation,” he said.
He pointed out that in 1998, at a time when SVG made hundreds of millions of dollars from banana sales, over 37 per cent of Vincentians lived in poverty.
Some 25 per cent of the people were so poor that they could not take care of themselves on a daily basis.
He, however, said that in eight years, the ULP government – which came to office in 2001 – reduced the percentage of dirt poor Vincentians from 25 per cent to 2.9 per cent.
“This is a party with a commitment to the poor. And South Leeward, you benefitted from this commitment.”
In 2001, only 4 out of every six children of secondary school age were allowed to enter school, Thomas said, adding that the NDP was committed to visiting universal secondary education in 2030.
The ULP government provided for universal education over 10 years now, he said.
He also mentioned the ULP’s Home Help for the Elderly, a domestic healthcare initiative, and its Lives to Live Programme — a housing programme, and the Vision Now initiative, where thousands received eye care, including surgeries.
Thomas mentioned the rehabilitation of the nation’s schools, clinics, and police stations.
“Ask all unbiased police officers which government has paid more attention to their well-being, provision of services and training.
“Ask our teachers and nurses how their quality of life has improved through the reclassification exercise.
“We now train 100 nurses per year as opposed to 40 under the NDP
This government has provided, through its 100 per cent mortgage policy, the chance for over 400 public sector workers to finance and build their own homes.
This government, through its housing policy, has constructed close to 1,500 low-income and middle-income homes for mainly young workers and professionals.”
Thomas quoted Gonsalves as saying in the last Budget that more than 509 Vincentians are studying across the world with some form of government assistance.
He mentioned Venezuela’s Petro Caribe initiative, which, he said, has provided a lifeline for SVG in a very difficult time.
The international airport at Argyle is coming through the commitment and hard work of Gonsalves, with the assistance of Taiwan and Cuba and Venezuela.
‘That is why we need to remember not to forget.
“It is against this history and background, this record of achievement that this election must be fought,” Thomas said.