KINGSTON — The Hon Bruce Golding, in his last national broadcast on the eve of his departure from the office of Prime Minister of Jamaica, Saturday night (October 22), challenged the nation to "find unity despite our diversity".
"No government, whether led by me, Andrew (Holness) or anyone else, can do it alone. Our chances of success lie in our ability to set aside our differences, to find unity despite our diversity and to coalesce behind a common set of objectives and the strategies to achieve them," Mr. Golding said.
"Our competitive political process does not encourage that, but it can and must be made to facilitate it. Vested interests must be submerged into the common interest, so that we can move forward, in single formation with a single purpose, to make Jamaica a better place for all of us to live. We must march into the future, not let the future take us by surprise," Mr. Golding stated.
The broadcast marked his farewell to the office which he assumed on September 11, 2007 after the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) won the General Election of September 3 of that year. He had been Leader of the Opposition since September, 2005.
At 4 pm on Sunday (October 23), the current Minister of Education, 39-year-old social scientist, the Hon Andrew Holness, will be sworn in as Jamaica's ninth and youngest every Prime Minister.
Mr. Golding in his farewell speech alluded to Mr. Holness age, noting that he will become the "one of the youngest Heads of Government in the entire world".
"His youthfulness, however, belies the tremendous ability he brings to the job, as demonstrated in the transformational leadership he has shown as the Minister of Education," Mr. Golding noted.
He credited Mr. Holness with "a clear vision of Jamaica, a vision that stretches beyond the next election, beyond many elections"
"He deserves the support of all Jamaicans in the formidable tasks on which he is now embarked," the Prime Minister urged.
He also noted the that the leadership transition has been "virtually seamless", as the majority of parliamentarians and the JLP "have coalesced" behind Mr. Holness "as the choice to lead the country, "so much so, that it has been possible to bring forward, by four weeks, the formal handing over of office". Mr. Golding previously planned to leave office after the party's annual conference in November.
The Prime Minister also pointed out that he is leaving office with "strong" emotions:
"Firstly, humbled and honoured that I was allowed the opportunity to lead my country, and to do so during some of the most difficult times we have ever had to face.
"Secondly, satisfied that we have put in place the foundation on which the country now has a chance to achieve the economic growth and development that have for so long eluded us.
"Thirdly, proud of the progress we have made in reforming our structures of governance, even as I regret that, despite the considerable work that has been done, there are still critical reform initiatives yet to be fully implemented. I have made one request of Andrew, and that is that he does everything possible to complete the reform programme which is a commitment we made to the people of Jamaica during the last elections".
However, he remarked that the emergence of a new leader, brings with it new hope and great expectations.
"That hope must be used to inspire us to a renewed effort by each of us, every single Jamaican, to do our part in building this nation, in overcoming the many challenges that confront us," Mr. Golding stated.
He said that the expectations that the moment brings must be tempered by the realities of the times, the considerable ground that has to be made up and the turbulence of the world.
"The journey may be long and harsh but we will find the fortitude, that extra energy, that capacity, once we are confident that our compass is set on the right track and that we are tackling the journey together" he urged.
As I leave office, my heart salutes Jamaica, proud, free and well positioned to be triumphant. May God bless each and every one of you. May God bless this land that He gave us, this land we so dearly love," he concluded.
By Balford Henry, JIS Reporter & Editor