Pastor Claude Skelton Cline has compared a constitutional action taken by Governor John Duncan to a nuclear weapon, adding that the National Democratic Party (NDP) government is too coward to orchestrate a solid push-back.
Governor Duncan has been receiving mixed reactions since last week when he announced he would use his constitutional powers to force Government to allocate $800,000 more to the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force; this after what he said were failed attempts to have the government properly fund the police.
Skelton Cline, who unsuccessfully contested elections for the NDP, last night declared that he is not pleased with Government’s response to the governor.
“There is an escalating cowardliness that has come to characterize the DNA of this National Democratic Party government. That’s a fact,” he said.
Skelton Cline suggested that, if 72-year-old Dr D Orlando Smith is incapable of leading a brave government, he should step aside.
“You cannot surrender; you cannot quit. You cannot say ‘well I’m 50 years now; I am 60 years now; I cannot fight anymore. Well, then pass the baton onto somebody who can.”
“If you are no longer prepared to fight and defend this country and the people – if you are not any longer prepared to preserve and protect them, then get out of the chair and let somebody else sit in the chair who will champion the cause of the people. These people elected you to represent them, not somebody else, not somebody else interest,” the clergyman said.
He continued: “What I am asking our leaders to do; wake up from your sleepy self; wake up from this cowardliness; come and speak to this matter on the merits [of it].”
Skelton Cline, who was speaking last night during the Umojah radio programme hosted by Cromwell Smith, did not deny the fact that Governor Duncan has constitutional powers to take the actions he did, albeit controversial and perhaps historical.
The clergyman argued that he does not think the action taken was justified.
“When this kind of draconian – this kind of a nuclear weaponry is used, it is designed to change, transform the worse way for our people, who we have been, who we are, and who we intend to be. This kind of move is a retrogressive step.”
Skelton Cline further argued that Governor Duncan has damaged the ‘political equilibrium’ in the territory, and is perhaps no longer fit for the post he occupies.
“The governor injects himself into the politics – almost makes himself a politician by doing what he has done. So his role has now changed, which then also questions his ability to be impartial anymore. And, if you can’t be impartial in that office, then you are no longer fitting to be sitting in that office.”
“By injecting yourself into the politics and becoming a politician, that begs the question about your judgment and your impartiality. This kind of irrational behaviour, abuse and over-reach of power in my estimation, where you now have affected the political environment in this territory, that’s a serious issue,” Skelton Cline further said.
He thinks greater self-determination is the answer.
But Skelton Cline lamented that the territory doesn’t seem to have the visionary leader needed at this time.
“Self-determination; how do we strengthen our existing institutions? What new institutions that need to be in the territory? [We need] some blue ribbon commission of some sort of some of the best minds on particular subject matters, who will then come back to whoever the sitting government is and say here is the plan; here is the course of what needs to happen by 2020, by 2025, and by 2013. Preparation. We have to make up in our minds that we are moving forward.”
Skelton Cline said the territory needs a Nelson Mandela – South Africa’s revolutionary leader.
“He (Mandela) could have made a good living for his family, but he chose, he answered the call and sacrificed. It cost him 27 years of his life [in prison]. But his people would not have gained the gains that they have made and the struggle that still continues if somebody doesn’t speak up, if somebody doesn’t sacrifice, if somebody doesn’t pay the cost.”
Skelton Cline, in the meantime, said he has approached the issue regarding the governor from a nationalist perspective – not from a political one.
“The people who are going to do news stories, the people who are going to blog; this is not about an individual; it’s not about politics; it’s not about who is sitting in power now. What has taken place trumps all of that.”
“This is not the time to turn on our own people. This is the time to close ranks and fight the real fight that needs to be fought so that we can have a territory to pass on to our successors – to our children,” added Skelton Cline.
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