I am reporting to the duty of nation building, in honour of the Comrade’s call to make the Argyle International Airport (AIA) work. The completion of an international airport in St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) is a breath of fresh air for all Vincentians.
Undoubtedly, the new airstrip and the state of the art terminal building have illumined the eastern corridor of the country. This luminosity radiating from the AIA, in development terms, reveals opportunities for new development in hospitality services, agri-business, and entertainment, among other sectors, to further stimulate the economic and infrastructural advancement of our multi-island state.
The short-lived arguments about the placement of a star, the symbol of the Unity Labour Party (ULP) in concrete on a section of the driveway at AIA was erased with one layer of concrete, but the legacy of Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves will be memorialized in the operations of the new gateway to the world. It is a legacy that emerged from a shared vision to move our blessed country from under the shadows of economic stagnation and uncertainty into the modern lights of economic development.
After navigating the stormy seas of scepticism, successfully leaping over the hurdles of and battering rams and project delays the Comrade has delivered a completed AIA. Since then many patriotic Vincentians have been responding to the call by the Prime Minister to make AIA work.
It is a call that echoes in every nook and cranny of SVG and resonates around the diaspora. It simply beckons us all as Vincentians to put our shoulders to the wheel and help build a better country for current and generations yet unborn.
The Comrade is widely regarded as a skilled politician, evidenced by his irrefutable popularity after 16 continuous years as Prime Minister of our independent nation. On Valentine’s Day (February 14th) he led the celebrations for opening the AIA and welcomed the scores of passengers who disembarked at Argyle for the first time.
The Valentine’s Day celebrations followed an official ceremony held the previous day to unveil the plaque and declare the facility open. On February 26th the Comrade had more reasons to celebrate when he hosted a rally in Colonarie to observe his 23 unbreakable years as Parliamentary Representative for the North Central Windward Constituency.
Congratulations are in order for the Comrade on his major achievement, from one Colonaire School past student to the other. In fact, Dr Gonsalves would very soon surpass Sir James Mitchell to become SVG’s longest serving Prime Minister. This is significant by all standards for any democratic society. Opinions may vary about his legacy but Comrade Ralph has earned the confidence of most Vincentians.
Moving forward, as the proverbial dust of uncertainty hovering around the AIA settles, Vincentians of all walks of life, irrespective of our political affiliation, are called on to work together as one people. This nationalistic and unified approach is a crucial component to our country’s economic development. As citizens of SVG, we are duty bound to be goodwill ambassadors of our nation, whether at home or abroad.
The dawn of a new era in the development of our nation is upon us and the next generation of Vincentian political leaders will be shouldered with the responsibility of skillfully managing our scarce resources while strengthening our cords of unity.
Over the years Comrade Ralph has consistently attracted a cadre of younger politicians, and this too is worthy of commendation. Speaking at his February 27th celebratory rally in Colonarie, Gonsalves again expressed a desire to depart the political stage and make way for younger leadership.
There are already several young and vibrant stars in the ULP, and it is very likely that they will soon be joined by others, who are interested in national development. Our young people are ready to shine their light of enthusiasm, to brighten the Vincentian body politic, similar to the illuminating effect of the AIA on the coastal, picturesque Argyle landscape.