TOP HILL, St Elizabeth — Chairman of the Opposition People’s National Party (PNP) Region Five (St Elizabeth and Manchester) Wensworth Skeffery believes there is a lesson to be learnt from the national security crisis now facing the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) government.
“The lesson… is that those of us who hug up gunmen, who hug up criminals, who hug up gangsters are asking for trouble (because) every day bucket go a well, one day the bottom must drop out,” Skeffery told party workers and hardcore supporters during a Southfield divisional conference at the Top Hill Primary School on Sunday night.
Skeffery reiterated calls for the resignation of Prime Minister Bruce Golding, Justice Minister Dorothy Lightbourne and Solicitor General Douglas Leys for their roles in the alleged mishandling of the extradition issue involving West Kingston don Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke.
But he also urged introspection, claiming that the PNP also needed to address the the party’s links to criminality.
“It’s not time for celebration because, the truth be told, in our PNP communities there are gangsters and bad men too. And whether you are Labourite or PNP, colour green or colour orange, if you are a bad man yu mus’ tek ,whe yuself and the full length of the law must be taken to you, because you seek to wreak havoc on the people,” he said.
“So comrades, let us not pretend that they (criminals) might not be on our corner because if you do that you would be doing an injustice to the judicial system, our community, party and movement,” he said.
He reminded the gathering that PNP leaders, including president, Portia Simpson Miller and general secretary Peter Bunting had also warned that the party should not celebrate the misfortunes of the ruling party but rather, should seek to learn from the mistakes of their political opponents.
“All of us, as comrades must seek to reshape the political culture of our country, our political culture has hurt us and if we do not accept that, we are blind to the reality and hope of a greater future,” said Skeffery.
A teacher by profession, Skeffery said the ultimate way to destroy the power of the gangs and the ‘dons’ was through education.
“Education has to be the way forward, too many of our youths leaving the formal education system and can’t read and write; too many leave the system and can’t even pass quarter subject much less one. We must understand that until we rescue those children the situation will continue,” he said.
For the PNP to deliver on its “historic role” as an agent of change and progress for Jamaica, every effort must be made by party workers such as those gathered on Sunday night to ” do the work”, to bring in the voters whenever elections are called.
It was a sentiment echoed by other platform speakers on the night, including candidate/caretaker for South East St Elizabeth Richard Parchment — the sitting councillor for the Myersville Division in the constituency — urged Comrades to galvanise and unite, especially because of what he said was the poor quality of representation from sitting member of Parliament –the JLP’s Frank Witter.
Parchment described Witter as “a nice guy” who “lacks the ability to represent the people”.
The divisional meeting showcased the PNP’s candidate/caretaker for the Southfield Division Lilieth Clacken. She is slated to oppose the JLP’s Gregory Myers in local government elections, which are constitutionally due but which now seem certain to be delayed. Myers is the son of the veteran councillor for the Southfield Division Shirley Myers. The latter, whose signal of his imminent retirement paved the way for his son’s selection, has retained the Southfield Division on the JLP ticket for 24 years.
Skeffery had words of encouragement for Clacken. “Don’t worry about the history of the Southfield division, it is only important to the extent that we learn the lessons,” he said.