Dr Keith Rowley is set to face some opposition as he campaigns to hold on to the post of People’s National Movement (PNM) political leader, following the shock announcement by former finance minister Karen Nunez-Tesheira that she will run for the post in the internal election later this year.
In confirming her intention yesterday, Nunez-Tesheira said although she has deliberately maintained a low profile that has kept her out of the political limelight for several years, her loyalty is forever vested in the PNM.
This is why she said she can no longer ignore what is taking place in terms of how the country is being managed, adding her decision to contest the leadership of the party came after she was approached by other PNMites to get back into the arena.
The PNM’s internal election is scheduled for December 4.
Explaining what had led to the decision yesterday, she simply said, “The people want change.”
Nunez-Tesheira revealed, “I was approached fairly seriously and not just in terms of why don’t you go up, but it came with a very rare commitment and a plan moving forward.”
She said the approach by other PNMites acted as an incentive to cement her decision on a leadership drive.
However, Nunez-Tesheira, who was a finance minister from 2007-2010 under a then-Patrick Manning-run government, said appearing on talk shows and publishing articles relating to the socio-economic climate in T&T over the past several years also helped with the process, as she was forced to delve deeper into the issues.
“It made me very well aware of how serious our situation was from my point of view and certainly a lot of the citizens of this country, that if something was not done in relation to the leadership of the party, that Trinidad was already feeling a sense of hopelessness and I think that is where the trajectory was heading.”
Commenting on Rowley’s decision to run for a second term although he had initially said he would not, Nunez-Tesheira said this was, “consistent with why the PNM had lost a lot of the trust and confidence of the people.”
Recalling just how many promises the PNM had made in the past which had not come to fruition, as well as the public mishaps and missteps, she said this, coupled with Rowley’s language which had bordered on conceit and vulgarity in some cases, did not inspire support.
Pressed to say just how successful her effort may be, Nunez-Tesheira said she is not blind to the realities that exist and there are people who will not want to come out and openly support her.
“I do understand why members of his own Cabinet who probably, if they had their way, would probably say he shouldn’t be there…they don’t want to lose their job and I do understand that.”
She continued, “I do understand people who are chairmen and directors remaining silent because the price, as with any government by the way, not just PNM, would be the loss of their positions and all that goes with it, so the fact of the matter is that it is a challenge.”
Confident she can make a difference going forward, she said she has no “cocoa in the sun or horse in the race” to worry about, and having been tested in critical and trying times in her previous dispensation, she has the experience to handle the job.
She said she was saddened that the majority of citizens continue to suffer whilst the wealth was being enjoyed by a select group.
“Most of the country living off of subsidies, living on salaries that cannot mind them or their families and they don’t own one thing because they are renting, and this Government has done very little to take them out of that…to make them entrepreneurs, to help them to contribute to the development of the country and buy from the same ten per cent so that everybody could get a share of the wealth of this country, as a government that Eric Williams fought so hard to start…this government has betrayed the very foundation of the PNM and what Eric Williams had fought for and it is a sad day for the PNM, but it is what it is and people know it.
“People may not say it outside but they are full of despair and hopelessness and they don’t think they have a choice but I am saying give me a chance to be your choice because the leader, as we are seeing, makes all the difference.”