“Your Excellency, Dame Cecile La Grenade, Governor General, Members of Parliament elect former Prime Minister, Mr. Tillman Thomas and Mrs. Thomas, Members of the Diplomatic Corps, honorary counsels, fellow candidates, heads of observer missions, OAS and CARICOM, distinguish ladies and gentlemen and forgive me if I acknowledge my grandmother, my parents, my children; Olivia and Christian. Thank you both for coming.
I know in Christian’s case I dragged him here. So I promise it’s the only time I will drag you. My aunts, extended members of my family and a special… special welcome to the members of the National Democratic Congress, our supporters, volunteers, workers, & prayer warriors.
Let me acknowledge the presence of the Commissioner of Police. It’s an absolute…. it’s an absolute honour to be standing before you this afternoon. It is still a little surreal. And so forgive me if I may have to pinch myself a few times during the course of the afternoon.
I want to start by acknowledging the Almighty God for the wonderful miracle he has created by giving the National Democratic Congress and myself the opportunity to form the Government of Grenada.
Without His blessings and guidance, I don’t think we will be standing here today.
And I think you could forgive me if I say, this is nothing short of a miracle.
And so I have no illusion that somehow I had anything to do with this. And if I did, it’s a very small part. But I think the real praise go to the citizens of Grenada who have shown that even when larger countries falter, that our democracy is strong, that our democracy is alive, and that the power rests with the people, and less we forget…. and less we forget, the people will always make the ultimate decision.
So I want to ask all of you to give the people of Petite Martinique, Carriacou and Grenada another round of applause for their commitment to the fundamental principle of democracy, to the fundamental principle of freedom of choice, to the fundamental principle of personal liberty, and to the right to vote.
And I want to re-emphasize that each adult citizen of Grenada has the power to determine by a single vote, who leaves and when that leadership comes to an end and who succeeds. And so it is with that reminder that I humbly accept to go to work on behalf of the people, to go to work on behalf of the citizens of Grenada.
And since it seems that my previous career has dominated quite a bit of the political talk, I can assure citizens that the same fervor, the same energy, the same resolve, that I brought to my career as a lawyer, I now bring it to and on behalf of all, and let me emphasize ALL, the citizens of Petite Martinique, Carriacou and Grenada.
I shall not be long, but I want to thank the Governor General for agreeing, obviously, with very short notice to this afternoon ceremony to allow me to be sworn in as the Prime Minister.
I think her Office recognizes the importance of ensuring that we get on with the people’s business and I also want to thank her for also facilitating the declaration of a public holiday today, to also get on with the people’s business because I am sure I would perhaps become a very unpopular Prime Minister if I did not accede to the people’s requests for a public holiday today, so I am happy that she allowed me to start on both counts on the right foot. So thank you, Your Excellency.
I want to say thank you to the Parliamentary Elections Office, the Supervisor of Elections and all of the election day workers and I will not be a hypocrite by suggesting that I was always happy with the Parliamentary Elections Office or for that matter, the Office of the Supervisor of Elections or some of the challenges we faced, but at the end of the day, I think we can conclude, and I’m not saying that simply because we won the election, I think we can conclude that all in all, the process worked fairly and that the will of the people… that the will of the people I was demonstrably shown.
Having said that, I will also not be hypocrite by indicating that we believe we need to significantly strengthen our electoral process. It is in dire need of reform.
It has to function to serve the people. It has to be service oriented. It has to be efficient, and it has to be a system that encourages all citizens to vote rather than discourages them.
And so it is certainly one of the main issues that we will seek to immediately address so that we can ensure that our democracy is strengthened for generations of Grenadians to come. But nonetheless, all of the electoral workers and the office of the Supervisor of Elections deserve our praise and collective gratitude because by no means being at the polls all day and preparing for a polling day is not an easy task.
And by extension I want to thank as well the Commissioner of Police and the police officers who would have provided human service to ensure….to ensure that the polls were conducted safely and securely. And I particularly want to thank the electors of Petite Martinique, Carriacou and Grenada. Many of you braved hot and humid weather, long lines sometimes for three to four hours to cast your ballot.
And for those of you who did not get frustrated, who stayed the course, and who ensured that democracy prevailed, I want to say a special thank you to all of the electors of Petite Martinique, Carriacou and Grenada.
The campaign of the National Democratic Congress focused on the many challenges and issues that face us as a small island developing state. Those challenges are real. Those challenges require us to work collectively together as a united people. The boxing match is over. The referees have ruled, and as the champion, it is our job to govern on behalf of all the citizens of Petite Martinique, Carriacou and Grenada.
And I wish to assure the nation that under my leadership, the National Democratic Congress must lead by example, by taking a united ‘Citizens First’ approach to our governance. It does not mean that we will not have to make tough or difficult decisions and often times that’s the hallmark of leadership. When those decisions are required, we will make them, but we will ensure that we can explain, consult and justify to our people why we are making the decisions that we make.
I want to take the opportunity to also congratulate Dr. The Right Honourable Keith Mitchell and his team. They form the opposition. Dr. Mitchell and I spoke this morning and we both pledged that we would work together to ensure that the people of Petite Martinique, Carriacou and Grenada benefit first.
And for the record, let me dispel any myth. He initiated the call. And so there is no suggestion that he was not magnanimous. And I want to publicly thank him for doing so and indicated that he wanted to ensure that we spoke privately before he made any public statements. So to him and his fellow colleague Members of Parliament, I extend my best wishes and congratulations and I will ensure that they too work on behalf of the people who have elected them to serve as Members of Parliament.
So I certainly look forward, particularly in the House of Parliament, to working with the opposition to passing the necessary legislation that we believe will begin the transformation agenda for Petite Martinique, Carriacou, and Grenada. And I therefore want to remind the supporters of the New National Party that we are citizens of Grenada first, and that is our collective responsibility to act that way, and to work together to build our small island nation.
We have several tasks ahead of us in the coming days, including the appointment of a cabinet, we will seek to swiftly do so. Naturally there will be changes that will be made at some government levels. We will seek to do so in a transparent and open manner.
The key criteria will be merit. And particularly as it relates to the government service in all aspects, whether it be police, teachers, nurses, doctors, the cooks at our schools, the people who worked… and I want to perhaps pause and pay special attention to them because quite often on mornings I see them cleaning our streets and it always reminds me that without our sanitation workers…..that without our sanitation workers, particularly in the towns, it would be a very difficult place to live, walk or work.
But I think often times we pass them by and because we too are too busy getting on with our own lives, but I want to make this effort to take this opportunity to salute them and to praise them for the work that they’ve done.
But getting back to the main point, we need to run our country based on merit, based on hard work, based on the desire and the willingness to overcome and to find solutions to the challenges that face us.
We will not move forward or prosper as a people if the sole basis for job selection, for promotion, for the award of contracts is party loyalty or personal loyalty. If we continue with this approach, we will be doing ourselves and the several generations of Grenadians to come a huge disfavor and so under my leadership I intend to break that vicious cycle of nepotism.
And I’m therefore using this opportunity to call on all Grenadians who have, prior to this, shied away from public service, who shied away from serving on boards of statutory bodies or government entities. The doors are open. You are welcome.
If you believe in serving your country, if you’re a hard worker, and if you have the skills and talent, we the people of Grenada need you and so I want to assure you, whether it’s Nawasa, Grenlec, the Port Authority, the Airports Authority, Gravel and Concrete, MNIB, whatever body or institution it is, we need fresh new faces with innovative ideas driven by the common desire to make our country a better place.
And so the call is for all of us to stand united together to move Petite Martinique, Carriacou, and Grenada… (forward), to move Petite Martinique, Carriacou and Grenada… (forward), to move Petite Martinique, Carriacou and Grenada… (forward). Thank you very much for coming. And I look forward to working with and on your behalf as we truly do move Grenada forward. Thank you.”