Former government minister Jack Warner last night declared the “writing is on the wall” for the People’s National Movement (PNM ) as he vowed that the “threesome” of himself, Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar and Gary Griffith will remove the Keith Rowley-led Government.
After ten years, Warner returned to the political platform last night, wearing a yellow shirt. He joined hands with Persad-Bissessar and National Transformation Alliance (NTA) leader Griffith at the Centre of Excellence, Macoya.
Warner opened his speech saying he was present by “choice” and to save this country from heading into an “abyss” under the PNM.
The former FIFA vice-president resigned as national security minister under Persad-Bissessar’s People’s Partnership government in 2013 after CONCACAF released a report charging that Warner and a former secretary-general of the group enriched themselves through fraud during their terms with the organisation.
He went on to form the Independent Liberal Party (ILP), which he used to win the Chaguanas West by-election.
Warner said last night that many have asked the question, “Why Kamla?” as he noted that he was responsible for former South African president and freedom fighter Nelson Mandela visiting Trinidad and Tobago.
Mandela, he said, was imprisoned for 27 years and was not allowed to see his family.
“But when he (Mandela) was released, he had no animosity against the government. You know why? Because he said love and unity must heal my country, and tonight, to have me here before you, I say Mrs Persad-Bissessar is the Mandela of local politics. Yes. She is! And that’s why I am here!’ he said.
Warner opened his speech saying he was present by “choice”, and although he wore yellow, his shirt did not have a United National Congress (UNC) logo because he must earn it.
“I will tell you this, because I am aware that there are some persons who would leave a party at 8 a.m. and be embraced by the Prime Minister at noon. I didn’t want that. There are others who would receive a cheque for $550,000 and they would leave just so. I must come and work among by brothers and sister in the UNC and NTA and earn my dues,” he said.
Warner said when he does this, he will convene an emergency meeting of ILP and disband it because “we are one family”.
He said there is one family, with one leader, with a focus to fight the PNM.
Crime, he said, is runaway in T&T and young people are leaving this country in droves.
Griffith, he said, is the best police commissioner this country has ever seen.
Warner declared that he was the best works and transport minister and national security minister.
“And with Gary and myself and the best prime minister anyone has ever seen, that threesome, you have no cause to fear!” he said.
“That is why I, on August 14, I am asking you to come out in your numbers…. I want to repeat to you, don’t tote, vote!” he said.
He said there must not be a 7-7 tie at the local government polls but an “outright victory” against the PNM.
Warner said the time has come when the people must accept that change is needed, and everyone must put their shoulder to the wheel to effect this change.
He said he expects there will be a barrage of attacks against himself and Persad-Bissessar, but no amount of cursing and memes can keep them back from victory.
‘I had nothing to thief’
Warner said he did make a promise that he would not say anything negative, but he trained his guns on Energy Minister Stuart Young.
Last week, Young publicly offered Warner a first-class ticket to Miami, noting that he is still facing extradition to the US for corruption charges relating to when he was FIFA vice-president
“I have to attack him. If he was to give me a first-class ticket, he has to get recusals from his Prime Minister; he is the only man I know who get 100 recusals in eight years,” said Warner.
Warner boasted that he never enriched himself under the Persad-Bissessar government.
“In the years I had been in Ms Persad-Bissessar’s cabinet, I had never asked for a recusal of any kind because I had nothing to thief, neither in Trinidad and Tobago nor in Jamaica,” he said.
As he closed, he fired attacks on Rowley for his failed leadership.
“As I close, I want to tell you, it is one man and his dog—oh, sorry, one man and his sheep—who have this country in the state it is in. It is one man and his dog, shucks, I mean sheep…one man and his sheep who has given public servants four per cent over ten years while he has ham, lam and jam, morning, noon night,” he said.
Said Warner: “It is one man and his dog who close down Petrotrin and put 6,000 workers out of jobs, it is one man and his dog who didn’t want this election and who is coming out and saying ‘vote for me’ in an election he never wanted.”