‘He was the best prime minister Grenada ever had’
Sir Nicholas Brathwaite (Sir Nick) died in November 2016 in virtual obscurity, a man with a broken heart for Grenada which he loved and served so well as prime minister from 1990 to 1995. I have served as an economist and civil Servant every Grenadian prime minister from Sir Eric Mathew Gairy to Dr Keith Claudius Mitchell and also other OECS and CARICOM prime ministers and my assessment and tribute to Sir Nick is that he was the best prime minister Grenada ever had.
Sir Nick was an educator, a bureaucrat and a great humanist—a kind and gentle man, with a great love for people. He became a reluctant politician when after the US invasion in1983 he was appointed Chairman of the Advisory Council of the Interim Government. He became prime minister and served one term providing good governance during a difficult economic period when Grenada was struggling for economic survival. Beverly Steele’s, Grenada: A History of its People, had this to say: “During his term of as Prime Minister, Nicholas Brathwaite—–demonstrated a leadership characterized by fairness, sensitivity and thoughtfulness.”
Sir Nick made some of the most difficult and gutsiest decisions affecting Grenada’s history, decisions that are resonant today which are: 1) restoring the constitution in 1991 that had implications for the constitutional developments in Grenada and the recent referendum; 2) the commutation of the death sentences of the 14 convicted of the murder of PM Maurice Bishop and associates in 1991, a decision that effectively abolished the death penalty and enhanced Grenada`s reputation as a modern liberal and progressive Small Island democratic state; and 3) implementing the Structural Adjustment Program (SAP) 1993-1995 that established a firm foundation for growth in Grenada’s economy.
The current PM, Dr Keith Mitchell, was able to benefit from the SAP for 13 years (1995-2008), a period over which he dismantled and reversed many of its measures while resorting heavily on borrowing to finance development thereby massively increasing the national debt. These eventually created the same conditions that led to the SAP under the Brathwaite regime and were inherited by the Tillman Thomas NDC Government in 2008. However, PM Mitchell in office from 2013 had no other recourse but to ‘bite the bullet’ and resort to another SAP utilizing Sir Nick’s approach and strategy of a ‘home grown program.’
Sir Nick’s performance has left a legacy that Grenadians and the Caribbean can be proud.
Dr Carlyle Mitchell