Ancil Dennis

READY TO WORK: New Chief Secretary Ancil Dennis

Thirty-three-year-old Ancil Dennis created history yesterday by becoming the youngest person to hold the post of Tobago House of Assembly (THA) Chief Secretary.

Dennis resigned the post of deputy presiding officer of the THA on May 5, paving the way for his appointment at the Assembly Chamber yesterday. Speaking with the media following his appointment, the newly-minted Chief Secretary said more history is yet to come.

Notably absent from the proceedings was former THA chief secretary Kelvin Charles, who requested to be absent.

Charles demitted office last week Thursday, in keeping his promise to relinquish the position of chief secretary, following his defeat to Tracy Davidson-Celestine in the leadership contest for the People’s National Movement (PNM) Tobago Island Council.

Dennis was nominated by Assemblyman Sheldon Cunningham and seconded by Assemblyman Hayden Spencer.

Despite a request for interpretation by Minority Leader Watson Duke, who labelled the process as illegal, null and void, and despite threats of legal action, the formality to elect a new chief still went ahead.

Dennis said he was nervous and at a loss for words.

“Let me thank also former chief secretary Kelvin Charles for his contributions to the development of Tobago and, of course, he will continue to be a part of this team, as we move forward towards Tobago’s development,” Dennis said.

Stating he was not shocked by his appointment, he added: “I intend to take this role seriously. My approach will be one of consensus, of course, and there are two words that have been the definition of my political career thus far and these words are humility and commitment.”

And while his first order of business will be to meet with all assemblymen, he said, in light of Covid-19, he has had to treat with a number of social issues affecting Tobagonians, inclusive of his constituents.

“Just earlier I received a call from a member of my electoral district who is facing eviction, therefore our priority has to be going forward, how do we strategically plan to respond to the social needs of Tobagonians during this crisis,” Dennis said.

Dennis said he intends to remain in politics for a long time.

“Even as we created history today I can’t wait for the time when we come back to this place sometime in January 2021 to elect the first female chief secretary of the THA,” he said.

All positions of secretaries and assistant secretaries are now vacant.

In responding to Watson Duke’s threat of legal action on his election as chief secretary, Dennis said Duke should be astutely ignored. “The THA Act is clear. A chief secretary resigned a few days ago. Section 8 of the THA Act outlines the process for the election of a chief secretary. Section 35 explains the circumstances under which a chief secretary can demit office, and the standing orders give the presiding officer the necessary powers to call a sitting for the purpose of the election of a chief secretary,” Dennis said.

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