|Lionel Coker interim Tobago Regional Coordinator|
for the Indepedent Liberal Party (ILP)
2,500 PEOPLE in Tobago have now registered as members of the Independent Liberal Party (ILP).
The figures were released at the party’s first Tobago press conference on Wednesday, where the interim Tobago Regional Coordinator, Lionel Coker outlined the plans of the party.
“In the short term, we are in the process of preparing to set up party groups across the island as they prepare for their internal elections as well as looking into the possibility of setting up office in the eastern end of the island. In the medium term, they intend to launch a mass mobilisation and education exercise among young people in particular, who presently do not see the need to be a part of the political process, while in the long term, the party intends to use the new awareness to examine the power structure on the island with a view of empowering individuals to retake the unfettered power that they would have given to their elected representatives by setting the stage for the introduction of genuine participatory democracy in every stratum across the political landscape by 2015 and beyond,” he explained.
Coker continued that the ILP is open for business and is welcoming suggestions from supporters and well-wishers on the island on any issue that would assist in the forward movement of the party.
“As far as we are concerned, no idea is stupid, no opinion is stupid, all your views are welcomed,” stated Coker.
He explained that the ILP sees people as people as there is no such thing as high profile or low profile member, everyone is equal.
Coker said that the ILP is committed to full autonomy for Tobago and, as a result, a Tobago Regional Council Assembly has been created to run the affairs of the ILP on the island.
In responding to questions by reporters, Coker refuted claims that the Tobago arm of the ILP is a disgruntled bunch of Tobago Organisation of the People (TOP) members.
“I’m not sure how popular that is, I have looked at the list of persons that have registered for membership and it is a mixture of TOP, PNM and persons that were never affiliated to any political organization, so that would be contrary to that opinion,” he said.
Coker said he had mixed feelings about the resignation of the party chairman, Danny Montano. “I don’t know what was in Mr. Montano’s mind, but he served the party for a short time and I think the party owes him some gratitude for whatever time he would have spent with the part, regardless of how short it was,” said Coker, who went to explain that the ILP was more than just “one man.”
“As far as I am concerned the ILP is not Jack Warner. The ILP is a movement of people, a collection of people because at some point Jack Warner will be out of politics and the ILP will still have to go on,” said Coker.
When questioned about the discussions held between the National Alliance for Reconstruction (NAR) and the ILP to form a “grand alliance,” Coker highlighted that he is in agreement with the move.
“Well right now when you look at the political landscape in Trinidad and Tobago, I’m not sure any of the political parties may be able to win an outright majority because if you look at the votes in the last local elections, if you were to really consider the numbers I am not sure any party would have been able to win a clear majority, if any it would have been a very slim majority. Any kind of alliance right now may be a good thing; it has to be carefully considered.”
Coker, who was the former chairman of TOP, stated that Tobago membership in the ILP currently stands at 2,500. He said the maximum number of registered supporters in TOP was 3,300.
“I think Tobagonians are looking for something new and they see the ILP as that vehicle to take them in that particular direction, said Coker, who stated that he had no regrets about leaving TOP.
“And I go further, you will never see me in life ever again sporting a TOP shirt,” he said.