It was made clearer yesterday that two factions remain within the Tobago Organisation of the People (TOP). This as a defiant TOP Leader Ashworth Jack made it clear he will not step aside from the leadership of the party until told to do so by the general membership and not a dissident few.
Jack reiterated that he submitted his resignation letter on February 1, 2013, which was later rejected by the party.
At this time there remains two factions of the TOP, one led by Jack and the other led by former chairman George Stanley Beard who has called on Jack to go and the present TOP executive to resign.
Jack said if members wanted to fix the present problem it could have been fixed a long time ago. He said in the past when Beard was chairman he was asked on numerous occasions to have the necessary changes made to the constitution of the TOP and to date it was not done. “I have met on two occasions with some of the players in this, inclusive of Tobago West MP Dr Delmon Baker and former TOP chairman Stanley Beard, and every time they gave you their word they went back on it. I believe that a man is as good as his word. If we really wanted to fix this it would have been fixed. The party has a constitution to deal with elections. Let’s deal with the party’s elections and let democracy reign and the majority of members will elect who they want,” Jack said.
He said since 1998 his family has owned a number of businesses and in 2009 he was recruited by a company in Trinidad. His bills, he said, have been paid and the TOP has benefited from a large percentage of the profits of his family’s businesses.
“When people were not paying their $10 party dues, I can show you cheques from my family business that is in large numbers in order to keep this party alive. Does that sound like someone who would abandon this party after you give your time, sweat and your money! I do not own this party, I am just the leader and when the majority of the membership believes they want a new leader I will take my leave. It will give me time to do some additional businesses I have been planning,” Jack said.
Former chairman Lionel Coker who tendered his resignation from the party has joined the Independent Liberal Party (ILP) under the leadership of Jack Warner.
During a press conference at the TOP’s headquarters in Tobago yesterday, Jack said the next step is for the executive of the party to meet and decide on the way forward, as to who will be appointed interim chairman.
Jack was supported by Tobago East Representative Vernella Alleyne-Toppin and TOP member, former THA Chairman and presiding officer Jeff Davidson. He said he has read and heard on numerous occasions the TOP spent more than $25 million on the January 2013 THA Elections, and this can only mean one thing. “It can only mean persons outside of Trinidad and Tobago might have collected $25 million and did not remit it to Tobago. I am therefore asking those persons whoever they are, the TOP is in dire need of money and whatever the difference they may have please send the rest, which would be in the twenty of millions and the TOP will be able to do a lot for their members and on the social media.”
Tobago East MP Vernella Alleyne-Toppin who spoke briefly at the meeting, said she stands by her political leader that the right thing needs to be done, saying she belongs to the side of right and progress.
“I love the TOP, I love my political leader Ashworth Jack who has dedicated his life towards the party. I respect the executive and I believe we can sit together to address the matter. I believe we are at the time where they must be a forward movement. I believe we were hijacked in the middle of the internal elections, and the elections must be go ahead. TOP members were not vigilant enough,” Alleyne- Toppin said.