According to the 2023 Budget Statement of the Antigua Labour Party government, the focus is to reset our approach as a nation, so as to recover from the adverse, economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the consequences of the Russian war on Ukraine.
Presumably, this reset idea is for the good of the people, based on the principles of good governance in a parliamentary democracy.
In the Budget Debate therefore, we had a responsibility to ask questions and make observations about the proposed reset to make it make sense in the circumstances of the budget, the parliament and the country.
For starters, how can a nation reset with a leader who, instead of leading by example and resetting himself to serve the people, continuously works to serve only himself?
The Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party, under its current leader, is described by party faithful as a “closed world” where speaking in support of the leader on his radio station is the “meritocracy” through which incompetence is rewarded with top government jobs and statutory board appointments.
What credible reset strategy can he lead without first resetting himself out of his intemperate, intolerant, disrespectful, uncaring and undemocratic conduct?
In the 2023 general elections, voters across Antigua and Barbuda told the ABLP in no uncertain terms that it is bogged down with a leader the people do not want and therefore needed a leadership reset.
Many of the comrades believe the party of VC BIRD has lost its mission, it is plagued by mismanagement and has been paralyzed by delusions of exceptionalism into a state of decline.
The comrades understand and appreciate a leadership reset against arrogance, bullying, abuse… He labelled his colleagues lazy, dishonest and corrupt and laid the responsibility for the significant decline of ABLP members in parliament squarely at their feet:
“I felt as though some of my colleagues literally surrendered their seats… they were not well in touch, they were clueless. Many of them were fudging the figures… and they were not putting in the type of work that was necessary”.
The comrades had no doubt in their minds about the necessity of a reset against the toxic leadership practice of putting other comrades down to make the leader look good… a reset against the natural consequences of having an insecure leader who relentlessly blames everyone, but himself, for the lack of performance of his government.
Instead, the same leadership that the comrades want to reset is now posturing to reset the governance of the country with the same unacceptable, anti-democracy practices that justify the necessity of a leadership reset in the ruling party.
It will not work.