I am now convinced more than ever before that the Supervisor of Elections, Pastor Leroy Benjamin must pack his bundle and go. The apology he made on Tuesday, January 26, at the end of the January 25, 2010 election is far from enough for him to be afforded another chance. Mr. Benjamin uttered words to the effect that he was chosen By God to accept the supervisor of elections position when he was appointed to the post. Oh? What would it have been like if he was not? From that day onwards he has done nothing of any meaningful magnitude that has caused the electorate to have any faith, trust or confidence in him. Rather, he has on occasions responded with personal verbal attacks on some of us who dare to question him on serious matters regarding the electoral office frame work. His refusal to respond to letters written to him By the opposition leader in the federal parliament Honorable Mark Brantley, exemplifies the wanton disrespect Mr. Benjamin has for authority. A voice of arrogance and anger associates itself with the gentleman from time to time while responding to certain questions via radio. Election Day, January 25, was a disaster waiting to happen and we were not disappointed. Supervisor of elections would have certainly recognized the pitfalls if his interest in the job was sincere. There was ample time for him to rectify the foreseeable issues and make better of what happened on Monday. The problems faced on that day were not all new, while others were elementary for someone trusted for that critical position. Based on reports of questionable events and inconsistencies taking place in and around the electoral office on Nevis, Mr. Benjamin stated clearly that no such things are taking place there, and that we know is untrue. The obvious padding of the voters list in district #9 is a glaring example. The new national ID card issued for the purpose of identification for voters was a futile and wasteful exercise as voters were allowed to vote with various forms of identification. The idea of creating and handing out of those cards was questionable from day one and anyone with rational thinking should have seen the problems ahead from miles away. Coming close to the day of election, some scant announcements regarding rules, regulations and procedures for the voting exercise was aired on radio. Nothing huge and meaningful to capture the attention of voters was in place. Nothing was clear enough to guide voters toward the new process of rules governing the exercise that existed. It was a flimsy attempt of implementing a changed procedure and although in hindsight it caused one to be nabbed for wrongdoing, the lame attempt to announce and advertise the rules speaks trash of the supervisor and his officials. Long lines at polling stations throughout the day with some elderly voters exposed to natural elements, rain and sun, was inexcusable. The lengthy process allowing more than 15 minutes at times for one person to mark an “X” on a ballot paper cannot be excused. The various interpretations of one using an ID cannot be allowed to go unchallenged. I was told that my ID had to be issued By the Nevis or the St. Kitts and Nevis government. Other genuine ID cards were not allowed at a particular polling station. Inconsistencies galore reigned at various polling stations and that is not good enough. The counting of ballots lasted up until after 8:30 a.m. the following morning, January 26, and our supervisor apologized like it’s the first time this has ever happened. It is appalling that in this day and age one would expect to be believed when it is reported that counting ballots in Nevis #9 would have gone on for more than 12 hours. PLEASE! I am not sure if the results of election here on Nevis gripped the supervisor. As one in charge of such an important office, it is mind-boggling why the gentleman refused to respond to letters from the opposition leader. It is also questionable why he refused to address matters regarding the accusations surrounding the activities taking place at the office here on Nevis, especially when so many people had grievances and complaints. Calls from opposition leader in Nevis, Honorable Vance Amory, for the removal of the supervisor fell on the deaf ears of PM Denzil Douglas. Incapable, incompetent and irresponsible are a few words that one can use without fear in a sentence referring to our supervisor of elections. Yet still, the voters on Nevis did not support his obvious lead and voted overwhelmingly in favor of the gentlemen he ignored. With all honesty, if justice is to be done regarding our electoral process, the supervisor of elections has to go. Nevertheless, I cannot allow this to slide By without my observations during the election campaign and the eventual results here on Nevis. Let me make it clear that each and every one of us has our own biases as it’s a natural part of being human. I listened extensively to the CCM meetings and tried my best not to listen to the NRP speakers. The difference is clear, the language is different and my ears and conscience cannot tolerate what I heard from the NRP platform. One night as they sounded off in Bath Village, the names, Mark Brantley and Vance Amory was mentioned in almost every sentence and that became very insipid. Added to the distasteful episodes is the fact that what the speakers were shouting was far from the truth. Speaker after speaker spoke in a tone of voice that suggested bitter violence and anger, while the words spoken were also derogative, demeaning and abominable. My theory to what I heard was that those speakers have all the authority to lead animals but none whatsoever to lead people. Yet still, those same gentlemen were asking for our votes on Monday. Were they really serious? When I could not stomach it anymore I closed shop and headed to Cherry Gardens to hear the tail end of the CCM meeting. It was a complete difference as issues were being discussed. Daily happenings on the island were addressed, awareness on various matters was brought to light and of course, the negative mix was included. It appeared that tapes of Premier Parry and Minister Hensley Daniel’s voices were the only ones heard as clips from their meetings and other gatherings were played as proof of their ramblings. It was appalling as to what our present leaders have been saying in public since their stint in office started on July 2006. Embarrassment for the Nevis communities wherever we are. Based on such reasoning I was prepared for what transpired on Election Day. The stakes were high but the playing field leveled out based on the capabilities of the candidates. Honorable Mark Brantley came into the political spotlight when the late Honorable Malcolm Guishard died in office, July, 2007. Mark has brought a new spark to the CCM party with vigor, energy and exuberance. A brilliant thinker and Oxford law student, Mark has been able to think on his feet and fearlessly challenges every wrong within his eyes for the betterment of Nevisian public. He has been sharp, clean and clear, a proven community alert person who has put his all into his work. His presence on the CCM platform has created an electrifying domino effect that seems to rub off on the community and has been attracting huge followers to his party and himself. A definite plus, for the CCM party. Unfortunately, both NRP and Labour Parties has made no bones about their dislike for Mark and both have seemingly formed an allegiance to destroy the candidate politically By any means necessary. With all the orchestrated scenarios beamed on bringing Mr. Brantley down, the good gentleman’s posture seems to get larger than life as he gracefully rolls out all positives and attacks the issues head on. His demise is all the governing parties in the federation seem to be focused on but the resilience of the gentleman saw him through in flying colors. There is not much more to be said about Vance Amory as his years of service to the people of Nevis have been unblemished. By bias, Vance has been my personal friend for over 45 years and a friend that has been closer than a brother over the many years. I’
m proud of that friendship but the fact is that Vance has proven sterling worth to the people of Nevis and that is worth volumes. A man of integrity, a man of principle, a man of stature. A man of the people, for the people and voted in By the people. Vance in his own unique style has not always been as forceful and loud as others but the substance he puts forth is second to none. When Vance talks everyone listens, not necessarily for the excitement but the wisdom and factual concerns that he brings out. No one challenging Vance on Nevis has a chance of beating him, a safe seat for the CCM party. Incumbent Patrice Nisbett has held his position in the federal parliament for the past ten years and one cannot point to any thing meaningful he has done, but he was a serious contender under the conditionsHis challenger Alexis Jeffers is fiery and hard working. Alexis Zouke Jeffers was a first time candidate and has come on By leaps and bounds since his call for duty. Seeking to replace Patrice was always challenging. He fought a good fight and will learn well. I congratulate all who participated in the race and salute all the winners.