Newly appointed government senator Shakell Bobb says there is much work for her to do and she is prepared for it.
“I know for a fact that there is a lot of work to be done and I assure you that I am ready to accept the challenge,” Bobb, a 30-year-old lawyer, said at her swearing-in ceremony at Government House, on Tuesday.
Bobb has been appointed a senator and parliamentary secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister, replacing Rochard “Pitbull Ballah, a former lecturer, who has been appointed director of communications in the Office of the Prime Minister.
Speaking at the ceremony, Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves said the government intends to launch, before the end of the month, the Prime Minister’s Youth Advisory Council, in which Bobb will be involved.
“This body would consist of a number of around 30 or more persons, the centre, but it would engage with different sectors, with different individuals, over 200 young persons under the age of 25,” Gonsalves said.
“And part of Shackell’s responsibility would be to work with the core body of that council, that advisory body, to be chaired by Anton Latchman, a young scholar, young professional who work in the ministry of finance,” he said, adding that the name of the members are “basically finalised” and would be made public.
Gonsalves said this means that Bobb would be a bridge between the Office of the Prime Minister and the Youth Ministry.
“But there are other areas,” he said, adding that the government has appointed a new Reparations Commission and that area would be one in which Bobb would be a link with the new chairman, Adrian Odle and the PM’s office.
“And then there are specific and regional and foreign policies with which she would engage with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and will be a link also with the Prime Minister’s Office,” Gonsalves said.
“And then there are specific interest of hers to work on many of the capital projects and in her work with the youth and in other areas which I have outlined, she would be assisting to make sure that the youth bodies which interface with the Ministry of National Security, to help us to have young people, that tiny minority who go astray into criminal activity, to stay on a fruitful and engaging path. I expect a great deal from her and I am absolutely sure that she will not disappoint.”
He said that although, constitutionally, parliamentary secretary is not a Cabinet position, as is the case of the Director General of Finance and Planning, Bobb would be invited to Cabinet meetings and to participate when he, as chairman, requests such participation.
“And that is why the Oath of Allegiance and the Oath of Office and the Oath of Secrecy are all very important in the donut of her duties.”
Meanwhile, Bobb said she was “humbled and extremely grateful for this opportunity to serve in this position of senator and parliamentary secretary, to serve in a place that allows me the ability to assist in making policy decision in the best interest of our people, to serve my country, St. Vincent and the Grenadines”.
The former beauty queen said God has always ordained her steps and she has “no doubt that this is one such step.
“I now have the privilege of saying that I am one of the youngest, if not the youngest members who will be sitting in Cabinet and that, to me, is a great feat,” she said, adding that the Unity Labour Party government “got it right because, indeed, the youth are the future.
“Inclusive political participation is crucial to building stable societies and developing policies that respond to the specific needs of our younger generation,” Bobb said.
She said that the youth “bring to the table innovative ideas that would help in developing our nation.
“I have no doubt that with the guidance of those who came before me, great things can happen and I accept the challenge with open arms because in order to know where we are going, we must know where we are coming from.”
The new senator said that at all stages of her life she has been gifted with mentors and their guidance has been pivotal in her success thus far.
“Trust me when I say I have welcomed a positive nudge in the right direction or even the not-so-subtle gestures sometimes. I always welcome them. All of this to say that no man is an island, we are always learning. And even though I may be a clear slate in this capacity, I am here to work hard, to learn and accept guidance and to make a positive impact.”
Bobb urged all Vincentians to always strive to make a positive impact in the development of the country.
Governor General Dame Susan Dougan congratulated Bobb on her appointment as senator and parliamentary secretary, saying, “This is a proud moment for you and your family and, indeed, you friends, and other Vincentians.”
She said Bobb has distinguished herself in many ways, adding, “I am confident that you will be an excellent role model for young people in this country.”
She said Bobb is in a ministry where there will be many demands “but I know you have a good teacher, and so, life would not be a challenge in that ministry.
“Your academic along with your professional achievement is a recognition of your years of hard work, effort, discipline and sacrifices. Be assured that you are valued, respected and this opportunity is now a springboard for what lies ahead.
“You must always think ahead, consider what is required and prepare yourself to apply your knowledge and competence to all situations. When in doubt, ask for advice. Importantly, divide your time wisely between work and your family,” the head of state said.
She urged Bobb to put God first in everything she does.
“When people praise you, accept gracefully and continue to be humble in your endeavours. When people are dismissive or undermine your efforts, you continue to be strong, calm, confident and assertive” Dame Susan told the new senator.
“Recognise some of the issues women face and use your influence to bring about meaningful change. Encourage a culture of support, understanding and respect as you execute your duties and, finally, engage the young people. You have the ability to influence, you are placed in a strategic position to do so. Give of your best. “
She also thanked Ballah for his service to the government of SVG.
“I know that you will continue to do well wherever you go and you have an important skill, one of communication. I therefore wish you continued success in the future.”