Political Leader of the Tobago Organisation of the People (TOP) Ashworth Jack as well as Member of Parliament (MP) for Tobago East Vernella Alleyne-Toppin were ‘no shows’ at a membership meeting called by concerned TOP members at Pan Am Building in Crown Point last Sunday.
The meeting, which was chaired by former chairman of the TOP Stanley Beard, attracted just over fifty TOP members, who were given an opportunity to vent their feelings on the leadership issues facing the party.
The TOP had virtually gone dormant since its 12 nil wipe-out in Tobago House of Assembly (THA) polls last January.
In the end, the political leader was given until tomorrow (Thursday) to have a conversation with the general membership.
If he fails to do so, an interim executive will be formed to manage the affairs of the party and fresh elections will be called. Several prominent members of the party expressed dissatisfaction with the state of the party; others warned that any bid to hurt Dr. Baker will be met with retaliation from members.
The TOP had failed on two occasions to hold elections for a new executive for the party.
Recently, its Chairman Lionel Coker chucked in his position and subsequently applied for membership into Jack Warner’s new Independent Liberal Party (ILP).
Through these convulsions, Jack has been keeping a very low profile with very limited comments to the media on the present state of his party. Questioned by the media during a break in the meeting, Beard told Tobago News that seven months after the elections, the members have not seen or heard from the party executive, including the political leader and they have observed that the chairman has demitted office and has joined another party.
“We don’t know how many members of the executive still exist, so what we decided to do as concerned members was to have a discussion on what really is happening”.
Beard stressed that with the advent of the ILP in Tobago, if nothing is done, people would become disillusioned and seek their political interest elsewhere. The former chairman emphasised that the members are not upset with the People’s Partnership government but are demanding greater participation.
“If he has abandoned the party, we can’t just wait until one morning when he says I am gone,” Beard continued.
He disclosed that invitations were sent out to the political leader and all TOP members of Parliament to attend.
“As you can see only the Minister of Justice Christlyn Moore and MP for Tobago west Dr. Delmon Baker have responded and are present in the audience to listen to the membership,” he declared.
He pointed out that ‘Jack must be given his jacket’ in taking the TOP from its beginning to this present juncture.
“We are once again in the doldrums. Some have abandoned us but we will emerge out of the rain clouds once there is honesty, transparency and commitment by the people who care about Tobago’s future,” declared Beard.
Beard was adamant that the ILP is no threat to the TOP. “To jump from the TOP to the ILP is a retrograde step and I have nothing against brother Warner, good person, no problem, but you see we have done this four times already……so his coming on the landscape, a fifth Trinidad party and Tobago people going to join on as an arm of that; they have to know when the rest of Trinidad votes, it is two votes coming out of Tobago as opposed to 39,” he continued.
Jack’s term as political leader of the TOP, officially comes to an end in May 2014.