The race for Tunapuna began yesterday, with United National Congress candidate David Nahkid outpacing the People’s National Movement’s Esmond Forde to the returning officer’s office at the El Dorado Community Centre to file nomination papers.
Forde had looked set to be the second candidate to file papers, after the Progressive Empowerment Party’s Maurice Downes, as he (Forde) walked along College Road with his contingent of red-clad PNM supporters at around 9.25 am when the UNC crew backed by music trucks emerged from El Dorado Road.
“Well, we were up front. My team told me to drive. I started off driving. But it is not me to sit down and just drive. So I came out and we began to walk up the road and we took our time. We are a little humid and we are in a mask. We were walking up the road. And when I looked down El Dorado Road I saw a sea of yellow, consisting of not Tunapuna people to start with,” quipped the incumbent MP.
“And next thing, when we reached the top of College Road by my old college, Hillview College, when I looked back, I noticed their team coming with a speed. I decided I am not going to speed up, I kept with my normal pace, he passed and as he passed, I am a respectable young man, I said ‘David how are you going? He looked back and waved to me.”
Nakhid said the exchange was in good spirit.
“We shared pleasantries, it’s a political campaign, it’s a matter for the country. But there is no need for there to be any rancour or any bitterness,” Nakhid said.
They emerged from the returning officer’s doors just under an hour later. During the time they spent inside, their supporters, many of whom seemed to know each other, traded chants and conversation to the music of the nearby trucks.
Both men expressed confidence they would secure the seat.
“Well, we are extremely confident, we are working hard on the ground and in the offices and we look forward to a clean campaign continuing the momentum and I think we intend to represent the constituents of Tunapuna as they should be represented,” said Nakhid, a former Trinidad and Tobago football captain.
“We are on the second phase now, the first phase where I would have been selected as the candidate to be the Member of Parliament for Tunapuna and today was the nomination Day where I signed with the golden pen,” Forde said.
Downes, who arrived with no supporting cast, conducted his business before the bacchanal that followed at 9.15 am. He too was confident he could break the traditional hold on the constituency.
“When interacting with the people in my constituency, the common cry is that we need a change because red and yellow have been in existence and have been ruling this country for the past 58 years,” Downes said.
“And to this day, we still have people suffering, crying out for jobs, we still don’t have water in our taps, so I believe the birth of the Progressive Empowerment Party was indeed timely and ready for the right now moment to really bring Trinidad and Tobago into a place where we could all move forward as a people.”