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The keith Rowley I know

By Labib Najjar

 Keith Rowley is ready to be prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago. Even though Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar has been shown to possess the appetite as well as an emerging acumen for this position, it appears that her party’s “Partnership” nature and unpreparedness doom her future. Too many errors and recurring mistakes have been made and the numbers continue to mount. 

As a result, the stage is set for Dr Rowley to be seated at the helm and he is entitled to sing The Temptations’ hit song, “Get Ready for Here I Come”. No one is more ready and deserving of taking the reins of government in Trinidad and Tobago! And the country deserves to have better, and they know him, want him, and need him. The region too!

For 34-plus dutiful years Dr Rowley has stayed his course, serving his constituency and by extension, his country. Over those years he showed himself to be substantially equipped and capable. A team player, he is also ready to stand alone.

I have known him for decades and have admired the leadership qualities that define who he is. Fully understanding the monumental responsibilities that go with successfully running a country, Dr Rowley was never shown to blunder where policy, protocol, legality and constitutional accuracy are concerned. 

And the crowning aspect is that throughout all of his years of service, this stalwart Trinbagonian has always been a respecter of persons and office—he tackles issues and not personalities, a rare trait in today’s global politics. Where there is disagreement with teammates or the Opposition Dr Rowley always stands his ground and for that which is right. Further, he has never been found guilty of betrayal even when it would have been to his benefit. He is direct, thorough, and unyielding and for this many accuse him of being unsociable. 

Dr Rowley is always true to Ronald Reagan’s 11th Commandment: “Thou shall never publicly speak ill of your fellow party members.”


The time is upon us to have Dr Rowley assume the position for which he has been groomed over three decades. The nation needs such a leader who has proven himself to be steadfast, focused, honest and with a no-nonsense spirit for the serious task that is at hand when running a country. 

If there is any semblance of the Rottweiler in Keith, be sure that whatever derogatory intent was meant by the prime mover of that labelling, it has only backfired. Dr Rowley has demonstrated an ability to adapt to all situations and to display a strong work ethic. 

His track record continues to show that he is, “watchful and constant in his assessment of threats to his surroundings” and he possesses a “wait-and-see attitude” to new people and situations. 

This latter trait goes with his label of not being “a social animal” that many would prefer him to be. Even so, we have also seen that the benefits of a constantly smiling leader are highly over-rated.

Still, we all know that even the greatest leaders possess weaknesses and Dr Rowley is no exception. But what we can unmistakably see at this time in our nation’s history, given our series of challenges in every arena, is that he possesses the wherewithal to engineer a turnaround. 

He lives his life demonstrating his disdain for the fair weather friend lifestyle.

You see, I know this man and he lives out these descriptions and illustrations in work and in his family life.

Most troubling to Dr Rowley is the country’s plummeting international integrity and transparency rating. He is determined to address the “code red” quarantine citation that has befallen Trinidad and Tobago.

I believe that under Keith Rowley, we will have the leadership that the country and the region now require. We deserve better than the leadership now offered by Kamla Persad-Bissessar and the People’s Partnership, and he deserves the chance to show that his undoubted intellect and maturity can be put to the higher service of the country.


Quite frankly, it is very timely that after his successive string of stunning and unprecedented party victories in Tobago, the Local Government elections and Terrence Deyalsingh’s St Joseph victory, he accepts the upcoming inside-the-party challenge that awaits him on May 18. 

Pennelope Beckles-Robinson is a most worthy PNM party member, but she too knows that her stand-off with the region’s best caretaker and political leader is too much for her. With the fullest respect to this true PNM lady, I tender that this will prove, with the pun intended, to be a Penny-wise-pound-foolish move.

In life, as experience teaches, we learn that nothing comes before its time. Dr Rowley’s extreme forbearance now seems to be carrying him closer to his goal of leading his country and everything points to this being his time.

 And should this be his destiny, it will become his legacy, for he has all the qualities needed to do a dazzlingly outstanding job!


• Labib Najjar is a businessman

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