Tue | Jan 26, 2021

Devon Dick | Is PM Holness a weak leader?

Published:Wednesday | July 11, 2018 | 12:00 AM

One asks the question, "Is Prime Minister (PM) Andrew Holness a weak leader because of how he has handled two situations involving persons?" The first had to do with the revelation by former Prime Minister Edward Seaga that it was his idea that the North-South Highway should be named after him.

If what Seaga is reported to have said is true, then he must be commended for forthrightness. However, it is an indecent proposal on many levels. The recipient of an award ought not to be the one to make the case for the award. That would be self-serving and a conflict of interest. In Jamaica, one cannot nominate one's self for a national award. Similarly, one should not nominate one's self for the honour of a road being named after one's self.

In addition, the protocol is that the one doing the nomination should not even tell the nominee that he or she was the one who nominated him or her. It is not proper. Certain standards and conventions should be maintained.

In fact, if one nominates one's self for an award it dishonours the award, disgraces the awardee and diminishes the authority of the awarder. This is not like a person asking the prime minister for a job or an opportunity or seeking help because of difficult pecuniary situation. An award should never be sought or bought, sold or traded.

Think about it. This award is going to leave a cloud over other awards. Did Seaga also make representation on his behalf for a building at Petrojam to be named after him? Furthermore, if former Prime Minister Bruce Golding is to be given an award, will he make representation on his own behalf? What if, in Seaga's mind, he should be a national hero and makes such a proposal to the prime minister?




The point is that it is unbecoming to argue for an award or defend getting an award. If Seaga came to the PM with that proposal, then, at best, he should have been told that a committee would have to determine such an award. A strong leader tells friends the truth when they have crossed the line of decorum and decency. A strong leader has the authority and the inner strength not to use power capriciously. Strong leaders empower others; exercise self-control and are not motivated by selfish ambition. Strong leaders know when to compromise, how to build consensus and how to convince others about the correctness of actions contemplated through reasonable arguments.

The view that the PM could be a weak leader is reinforced by the recent press release concerning Dr Andrew Wheatley, Cabinet minister. This release when Prime Minister Holness assumed the chairmanship of CARICOM exposed him to ridicule among his Caribbean peers. The statement read, ' ... Minister Wheatley agreed with the prime minister that in the interest of transparency, the energy portfolio will be transferred' to the OPM (Gleaner, July 3). What if Wheatley only had one portfolio, such as tourism? What would have happened? If Wheatley did not agree with the prime minister, what would have happened? When a policeman is suspended from duties while his conduct or actions are being investigated, he is removed from front-line duties but he is not sent to do back office work. Which permanent secretary will now be responsible for the energy portfolio?

In the release, Wheatley comes across as powerful. The release could have said, '... the PM, based on his commitment to accountability and transparency, Wheatley was suspended with full pay until investigations are completed, and Wheatley accepts the decision of the PM'.

Both Seaga and Wheatley appear to have weakened our prime minister and a reality of this would be frightening.

- Rev Devon Dick is pastor of the Boulevard Baptist Church in St Andrew. He is author of 'The Cross and the Machete', and 'Rebellion to Riot'. Send feedback to columns@ gleanerjm.com.