MP for South Windward, Frederick Stephenson says he believes he has served constituents well and deserves a second term in office.
Speaking at a rally of his Unity Labour Party (ULP) in Biabou on Sunday, the National Mobilisation Minister urged constituents not to be like the Israelites who complained repeatedly in the wilderness.
“Comrades, I believe I have served you well during these last five years,” said Stephenson, who was elected in 2010.
“I know that some of you are mad with me because you didn’t get it your way. But you can’t have it your way all the time. The good Lord answers prayers in three ways: yes, no and later wait,” the Anglican lay minister said.
“I have told some of you “yes” when I can; I’ve told some of you “no”, because I can’t, and I have told some of you “later”, when I know that, by God’s grace, I would be able to help you. But despite all of that, I love you from the bottom of my heart,” he said.
Stephenson told the rally that he attended a church service recently where the sermon was entitled “We are fighting a war, but don’t get tricked.”
“We in the ULP, as these elections are coming forth, we are fighting a war against the lies of the NDP, but don’t get tricked,” he said.
“They will come around and they will speak all manner of lies to you, but I am saying to you, you have seen for yourself, and you have heard, as the good book says. We cannot trust them and we cannot turn back the hands of time, the good times. We cannot do like the Israelites, when they were going through the wilderness experience, they started to complain to Moses…
“Comrades and friends and supporters of this wonderful Unity Labour Party, I am saying to you tonight do not grumble like the Israelites did, but be thankful for what you have received, because more and better is to come.”
Education & training
He said that before 2001, when the ULP came to office, only a few persons and those from the “rich and famous” received scholarships.
But since 2001, close to 90 national scholars have been granted and many more have received exhibition awards, many young persons have gotten their tuition paid and many have received a free education compliments the ULP government, he said.
Many young residents of South Windward have gone overseas to university and have returned, making a contribution to the development of the country.
The ULP, in its first 100 days in office, said it wanted to help the young people and implemented the Youth Empowerment Service (YES) Programme, where over 500 young persons are given an opportunity for training and development every year.
He said the YES Programme is a best practice in CARICOM, which a number of countries are taking on board, adding that the programme, which is financed by Taiwan, is possible because of the ULP’s foreign policy.
Stephenson said the main opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) has called the programme the “youth exploitation service”. He, however, said that many of the persons sent on attachment on the YES Programme in the early days have gone on to write additional CXC subjects, went on to the Community College and went on to get under graduate, master’s and doctorate degrees.
In the area of housing, never before was there a revolution in this area in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Stephenson said.
He told party supporters that during the NDP’s 17 years in office, they “half completed” three houses at Diamond, which were later inhabited by cows.
“But look at what we have done over in Diamond there. We have built a housing project for many persons and that is there for all to see,” he said, adding that similar projects were built across the country.
The ULP government is unmatched in the area of land distribution, Stephenson said.
He told the rally that in 1998, the NDP offered lands in Adelphi at EC$3.50 a square foot, but only one individual paid for the land.
The ULP offered over 30 persons the lands at EC$0.50 a square foot, he said.
“We are saying that if you occupy the state lands for many years that we can help you to own the land so that you are able to build a proper house, go to the bank, get some money, build a proper house, and you can also get some money to send your children to university. That is what Labour love is all about. Ensuring that you own your own home and own your own land.”
He said the ULP wanted universal access to education in South Windward and the first school at Peruvian Vale-Argyle was built for kindergarten children, and since then, many of the new schools have been modelled off this.
Soon there will be a brand new pre-school in the schoolyard at Biabou, costing EC$300,000, Stephenson said.
“Comrades, what we have done in South Windward over the last 14 years is unmatched,” he said as he highlighted the government’s achievements in the district.
Stephenson said the constituency has the best tourism recreational facility, in Rawacou and a 20,000-gallon water tank was constructed on top of Akers Hill to supply water to the community.
“Now, every single hour of the day, pipe-borne water is there for the people of Calder.”
After the 1994 election, the then representative, Burton William, built a road in Top Hill. But because some persons didn’t support the NDP, they started with a six-foot road and in the middle of it they put steps, Stephenson said.
But three years ago, the ULP built in that area 1,900 feet of concrete road, the best constructed under the Basic Needs Trust Fund, the minister said.
“It is the strongest piece of concrete road anywhere in St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” he told the rally.
“We have done tremendous work in this constituency. We will continue those works. Work is continuing now on the Simon main road. You have seen the asphalt zipper going there and the works will continue. We have done work in Simon, in Calder, in Biabou, in Cedars, Reeves Level, on the road. We have put over 100 streetlights in Diamond. Diamond looks like a Christmas tree all now. Comrades, those are some achievements.”
As part of the Lives to Live programme, the government has built two plywood houses in Carapan and toilet and washroom facilities at Peruvian Vale and Biabou and two more are being done in Cedars, Stephenson said.
“I am telling you this is a government that cares. This is a government that loves the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and I want to say to you when you go to the polls whenever the next elections are called, you have to vote with your conscience for the party of love, and that party is the Unity Labour Party.”
He appealed to the farmers, saying, “we have to get our acts together.
“We have to start going back to the land and working the lands again,” he said, noting that EC$6 million is available for loans from the state-owned Farmers Support Company.
“We have to ensure that farmers go back to the land, because very soon the international airport at Argyle will be up and running and we have to ensure that we sending agricultural produce out of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and into the international market.”
“We are going to continue to develop the feeder roads in St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” he said, adding that roads in the constituency are earmarked to be done “pretty soon”.