“Now, it is time for a new chapter to be written,” Premier, Minister for Finance, and Leader of the National Democratic Party (NDP) Dr. the Hon. D. Orlando Smith stated as he announced his upcoming farewell from the Territory’s political stage.
The statement, which many suspected was coming, was delivered on 19 June and ignited a facebook response of appreciation and gratitude from residents who profusely thanked Hon. Smith for his years of service to the Territory.
The Premier commenced his statement by reminiscing on the humble beginnings of the NDP. He said: “Nearly two decades ago, a small group of friends came together to talk about the future of our country. We met in living rooms and hotel conference rooms throughout the Territory. We had no offices, no organization, no formal agenda. What we had was a sense of mission. We believed that it was our duty to give back to this country, which had given so much to us…We understood that it was our turn to pay those blessings forward. And so we came together and launched a new party – the National Democratic Party.”
The Premier said that it was one of the great privileges of his life to be selected by his peers to lead the Party. However, he said that the time has come for him to step down, though the BVI Leader noted that the decision was not a spur of the moment one. “The question I have asked myself is whether I should seek to continue to lead the party. And after much thought and prayer, after discussing the question with my colleagues and with my family – I have concluded that I should not.”
Hon. Smith said that while his journey as the Premier and leader of the Territory will come to a close at the end of this Government’s term in office, the mission that was launched many years ago lives on. He further expressed his satisfaction with the work the Party under his leadership has done.
“We did our best to take the blessings granted to us by our predecessors and solidify the foundations of our economy and our country…Ultimately, we will be judged by God and by history – and I hope and pray that our efforts will be deemed worthy. I believe in my heart that the BV Islanders of our generation – no matter their party, no matter their politics – worked truly and diligently to build a better country for all. And when I look around at this Territory – even after last year’s disasters – I cannot help but believe that we have done well.”
The Premier alluded to the September disasters and the fact that he was exiting while the Territory was still in recovery mode. “Tragically, the opening pages of that chapter will be defined by the hardship of natural disaster. But I am convinced that the pages that follow will be a tale of triumph, for as a great poet once said, setbacks such as those we experienced can serve to ‘shake the soul, and let the glory out.’ And I am confident that with the right leadership, the coming years and decades will be bright for the BVI.”
“I will be forever grateful for my season of service on behalf of my fellow BV Islanders. I am grateful for all those who have been my fellow travelers through good times and bad over these past twenty years – who have shared with me the victories and the defeats. I am grateful to my wife and family who have stood beside me and given me strength when I needed it most. I am grateful to the people of the BVI who entrusted me and my colleagues in three out of the past four elections to lead our Territory and whose hard work, creativity and bedrock values are the true engines for our growth. And I am grateful for the one year we have left in this government’s term – a year that I am committed to making a time of relentless effort to continue down the path to recovery,” he added.
Nonetheless, the Premier noted that he still has time remaining in his tenure and vowed to continue to work for the Territory: “There is so much work left to do. With this decision, I will be free to dedicate 100 percent of my time and attention to that task. I will try to do so as I always have – with humility and with a promise that while I may never be free of mistakes or of missteps, I will always seek to do the right as God chooses to show me the right. I look forward to that work ahead. And I look forward to the bright future that we, the people of the BVI, will build together,” he said.
Premier Smith was first elected to office in 1999, and served as Leader of the Opposition until 2003 when he was elected Chief Minister. From 2007 to 2011 Hon. Smith once again served as Leader of the Opposition and was elected Premier from 2011 to present.