All PNM hands on deck! That was the rallying call yesterday to PNMites from new "captain" Keith Rowley, as he left the party's four deputy leaders in place. In addition, Rowley announced that former minister and MP John Rahael would be PNM's national campaign manager for the upcoming local government elections. The deputy leaders are Orville London (Tobago), Nafeesa Mohammed, Joan Yuille-Williams and Dr Lenny Saith, all of whom had served under the previous Manning leadership. In his inaugural speech, Rowley said the party's responsibility was currently to put its best foot forward for the July 26 elections. He said there was no deadline to make changes and this was not the time for major restructuring, since the party was in gear for the polls.
He also called on PNMites to come back "home." As the PNM "turned a page," Rowley thanked the outgoing executive and all who worked for the PNM. "We owe them a debt of gratitude," he added. Rowley said those who were leaving office soon were not in disgrace since there was the satisfaction that they had brought the party to where it was.
Rowley especially paid tribute to the executive officers, Conrad Enill, Martin Joseph and Jerry Narace, who resigned recently, and whom, he said, had promised to help the PNM. PNM's General Council is expected to fill the vacancies subsequently. Enill, whose last duty was yesterday, quipped at the end of yesterday's function that the new leader would "turn out to be a difficult taskmaster."
Enill announced a week of screening of local government candidates–starting today–by PNM's screening team, which Rowley now heads. Today at Balisier House, PNM will screen nominees for Port-of-Spain, Diego Martin, San Juan and Tunapuna. Tomorrow screening continues at PNM's south office for San Fernando nominees and those from Pt Fortin, Siparia and Couva. On Wednesday, nominees from Arima, Chaguanas, Sangre Grande and Mayaro will be screened. On Thursday, others from Princes Town and Debe will be screened in South. The party launches its local government election campaign with presentation of candidates on Sunday at Chaguaramas Convention Centre from 10 am.