Fellow Jamaicans at home and in the Diaspora, good afternoon.
We are here this afternoon to celebrate and recognize another significant moment in our democracy-the smooth and peaceful transition of leadership. We are doing so in accordance with our Constitution that has served us well for the past 49 years.
I therefore welcome you to this auspicious and sobering occasion, pregnant with the hopes, dreams, aspirations and apprehensions of a people, the majority of whom are still anticipating the realization of the ‘Jamaican dream.’
Today symbolizes the end of one era and the beginning of another. We welcome a new Prime Minister, the Hon Andrew Holness, who will be our ninth since Independence, and say farewell to outgoing Prime Minister the Honourable Bruce Golding, who has led the nation for the past four years.
Before I proceed to swear in the new Prime Minister, please allow me, ladies and gentlemen, to express our thanks to the Honourable Bruce Golding for the leadership he has given to this nation as its Prime Minister. Jamaicans are not the easiest people to please but neither are we an ungrateful people. So on behalf of Lady Allen, myself, and indeed, all the people of Jamaica, we thank you for the service you gave to this country especially these past challenging four years as Prime Minister.
We are all aware that you gave leadership at a time of economic difficulty-a crisis characterized by its international reach. Many economies were downgraded, some compressed, and still others are teetering on the brink of collapse. Jamaica held firm under your leadership and the country experienced legislative, economic, and social progress.
You presided over a watershed period in the history of our country and successfully provided us with a steady footing from which to transition into our fiftieth year of independence.
You knew and understood ‘the times’ and, in your way, tried to do what you felt was best for Jamaica. History will judge whether you succeeded. As Civil rights activist, the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
Prime Minister Golding, in those monthly meetings when you regularly briefed me on the state of the government, you displayed leadership characterized by a keen mind, a steady hand, and a kind heart.
We say au revoir to you and wish for you, Mrs. Golding and your family our very best and success in your future undertakings.
Ladies and gentlemen, this afternoon I received the resignation of Prime Minister Golding and I have also been notified that the majority of the government members of the House of Representatives have supported Mr. Andrew Holness to become the Ninth Prime Minister of Jamaica.
I have accepted the recommendation and I congratulate Mr. Holness on receiving the overwhelming endorsement of his colleagues. I encourage you, sir, to use the confidence expressed by them; and the tremendous goodwill of the people of Jamaica to step forward boldly and respond to the needs of the country through the informed decisions that you will make.
Today, you will embark on an epic journey. A new generation cries for your leadership and the yet unfulfilled hope of the independence generation is still awaiting realization. Many Jamaicans – people of all persuasions – have unfulfilled dreams. When you are sworn in, you will hold the destiny of all these aspirations in your hands. You will become the leader for all Jamaicans who will now look to you for a satisfying response to their expectations.
Your challenge, and you obviously have chosen to accept it, is to
1. Unify the nation so that we function as one team-Team Jamaica.
2. Build confidence in the structures and systems of state.
3. Assure our citizens that the operations of government are working well on their behalf.
4. Continue the stabilization process and growth of the economy.
5. Help Jamaicans to believe in themselves, realize their aspirations, and contribute to the building of our nation and the achievement of our “Vision 2030” goal.
This is the first time that a Prime Minister is being appointed from among the post-Independence generation. This is the “instant generation,” exposed to information being transmitted in nanoseconds and who can become easily frustrated, impatient and restless with snail-paced change. It is essential that we seek their commitment to this nation – a commitment which must allow them to unlock the doors of their imagination, unleash their potentials, expand their vision and give them the tenacity to turn dreams into reality.
Our new PM will be tasked with the responsibility to catapult us into a rapidly changing world and allow us to be comfortable doing business and interacting, without losing our identity as a unique group of people. We must position and understand ourselves in the context of global economic and geo-political relationships, and leverage the recognition and respect that the world has for us, to our advantage.
To my fellow Jamaicans, at home and in the Diaspora, let me assure you that we have no need to fear for the future, unless we forget what has happened in our history, especially these past 49 years. So I appeal to you to support the leadership of our nation, and particularly our new Prime Minister; affirm the positives and continue to discourage the negatives. Be vigilant, hopeful, and proud of your country; give of your best, so that Jamaica may, under God, always increase in beauty, fellowship, and prosperity, and while achieving our vision, play our part in advancing the welfare of the whole human race.
Ladies and Gentlemen: Thank you and God bless Jamaica land we love.