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Four Years of Governor Nigel Dakin, Highlights of the Tenure 

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By Dana Malcolm with Deandrea Hamilton   

Editorial Staff

 

 

#TurksandCaicos, March 31, 2023 – Former Governor Nigel Dakin bid the Turks and Caicos goodbye on Wednesday March 29th in a service at St Monica’s Anglican Church. The ceremony, lavished with the befitting pomp and pageantry of a British send off, saw parts of Leeward Highway closed for a few hours to accommodate a Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force march pass and salutes to the outgoing and incoming governor.

The Governor is the equivalent of the British Monarch within the territory; a very prestigious post and the transition is always adorned with ceremonial fanfare which attracts residents from all walks of life, including government dignitaries.

Nigel Dakin and his wife Mandy, waved a final good-bye to the Turks and Caicos Islands after a noteworthy four-year tenure, which leaves the country with significant, beneficial changes.

Dakin arrived in the country in July 2019 to stand partner with the then Sharlene Robinson led PDM Administration. Robinson was the first woman to serve at Premier and when Dakin arrived, the Turks and Caicos was still restoring public infrastructure damaged in Hurricane’s Irma and Maria and fighting an unrelenting crime wave.

Mere months after his arrival, there would come the once in a lifetime event, the tragic Coronavirus Pandemic.

Dakin, alongside the elected government and the residents of the islands would have to contend with unprecedented lockdowns and the most brazenly violent season in Turks and Caicos history.

The Governor was sworn in in the presence of his family and welcomed by Premier Robinson and her team on July 15, 2019; three months after being announced as the successor to Dr. John Freeman.

History records Nigel Dakin as the 15th Governor of the Turks and Caicos Islands.

By February 2020, any honeymoon – real or imagined – was over.  Globally, governments had to do what none had ever done before, there was no blueprint and no playbook to follow.  It took quick thinking, guts and extreme consultations to galvanize against the deadly and debilitating Covid-19 virus which had now devastated the people of the planet; deaths and illness were in the millions, an unprecedented predicament precipitated by a previously unheard of virus.

Dakin is credited with his role in getting vaccines to The Turks and Caicos by early 2021 (much more quickly than most other Caribbean nations) via lobbying in the UK. The British had determined its overseas territories cumulatively numbering around a quarter of a million citizens would be shared in; Great Britain was the first country to consent to authorized use of the vaccines as a desperate life-saving measure.

In this harrowing season, Turks and Caicos saw both hospitals outfitted with oxygen generators and the establishment of the National Public Health Laboratory; permitting COVID testing to take place on home soil.

Also transformed with the help of Dakin’s influence, The Department of Corrections, formerly known as HMP; located in Grand Turk.  Unruly inmates were re-situated to other countries in order to restore and maintain calm at HMP which suffered frightening unrest, forcing Police to commandeer the facility and over time discouraging many who had signed on to lead at the institution.  Reports of assault on guards, prisoners and superintendents were frequent.

In a project supported by his wife, Amanda Dakin, the Governor partnered with the Government and TCI citizens for projects, like the prison farm and uniquely, the inmates’ work in textiles which debuted at London Fashion Week in 2022.  The group helped to create original handbags and the like with a local designer.

Amanda Dakin, in a feat of what can only be described as absolute brute strength, became the first woman to circumnavigate the Turks and Caicos on sole manpower, as she headlined the footsteps4good charity event two years in a row; 2021 and 2022.  The money raised, surged and was donated wholly to charity organizations across the country.

Recognizing the illegal migration crises and well-versed in matters of national security as a former marine himself, Dakin began to fast track many security plans that had been dormant prior to his arrival. That included the creation of the country’s first military arm in 2022, the Turks and Caicos Islands Regiment.  Starting with a handful of soldiers and volunteers, today the Regiment is nearly 50 strong.

In addition to the Regiment and the historic training of islanders to staff and help lead the troupe, Dakin helped engineer a 2021 Border Security agreement with the US and The Bahamas as an aside to the Operation Bahamas Turks and Caicos (OPBAT) plan which galvanized the long talked about Ship Rider Agreement, and simultaneously a comprehensive plan based on intelligence sharing between the three countries.

The radar unit was incorporated into the Marine Police and Immigration Minister capabilities expanded significantly to lay the groundwork for a National Coast Guard.

In 2022, murders increased exponentially and Dakin, who as the Governor, heads National Security faced calls from former politicians and current ones to step down. He refused unequivocally and along with Premier Washington Misick, called in backup from The Bahamas, Jamaica, US, and UK to crush the violence that tore at the country, with mixed success.

There are some islanders who criticize the Governor’s perceived close working relationship with both the elected governments and his stance on legal migration which he openly believes should be a fair and open process.

Dakin has never been one to turn tail at the sound of his detractors and has proved to be very engaged with the local community speaking with those who disagree with his methods and those who support him alike.

Premier Washington Misick, Former Premier Sharlene Robinson, Deputy Governor Anya Williams all had only glowing thanks for the Governor.

What is less debatable, is the Turks and Caicos is now in a stronger position in terms of security, with the establishment of a National Security office, staffed with local professionals and the establishment of the TCI Regiment, all coming during the tenure of Nigel Dakin.

Dakin steered talk to action, for true tangibles of which these islands can be proud.

Government

Washington MISICK challenged, and holds onto Leadership of the PNP

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#TurksandCaicos, February 24, 2024 – Magnetic Media can report that WASHINGTON MISICK has emerged and remains LEADER of the governing Progressive National Party.It has been a contentious battle today at the PNPs National General Congress (NGC) for party leadership with interest coming from: Jas Walkin, the party’s 2021 campaign manager who this week publicly withdrew his bid; Dameko Dean, former Wheeland candidate who had published an article revealing his quest to lead the PNP and E Jay Saunders who today unsuccessfully challenged MISICK for the role.Saunders has tried for leader before and has served as the party’s deputy leader, at the pleasure and selection of Washington Misick since June 2019.The run for party leader was a risky maneuver by Saunders, son of former PNP Party leader and Chief Minister Norman Saunders.Delegates cast votes, giving E Jay Saunders 58 votes and Washington Misick 88. The elder statesman convincingly retaining delegates’ confidence.It is also reported that, based on the PNP Constitution, Saunders needed 70% support from delegates in a preliminary run off.  He was unable to secure that much backing.A constitutional motion to change the selection process of the deputy leader to a delegate vote reportedly failed.It is therefore unclear what the immediate future, politically is for Saunders whose party and government roles are hinged on Washington Misick’s prerogative to have him or someone else in these posts.However Misick is already promoting a strict focus on uniting the party following the NGC meeting held at the Shore Club.

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Ministry of Health and Human Services in Collaboration with UK Health Security Agency conducts Migrant Health needs Assessment  

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#TurksandCaicos, February 23, 2024 – The Ministry of Health and Human Services has partnered with a team from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) UK Overseas Territories (UKOTs) Public Health Programme to conduct a health needs assessment for communities in informal settlements throughout the TCI.  This project was funded by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) and has taken place through a series of consultations and meetings in order to assess health needs and propose recommendations to address gaps in access to health care.

A steering committee supported the preliminary discussions on developing the scope and direction for the assessment and included representation from the TCI from Dr. Dawn O’Sullivan, Dr. Camelia Clarke (Director, Health Promotion and Advocacy Unit), Mrs. Aldora Robinson (Former Director, Health Promotion and Advocacy Unit) and Dr. Nadia Astwood (Chief Medical Officer).

This project culminated in an in-country visit by a team which included: Annabel Grieve (Programme Management Lead), Dr. Amoolya Vusirikala (Public Health Registrar) and Allegra Chatterjee (Epidemiologist) with earlier support provided by Dr. Natalie Wright, Health Protection Lead and Consultant in Global Public Health with the UK Overseas Territories, Global Operations. The visit, which began on January 21st 2024 and concluded this week, saw a number of in-person consultations with key stakeholders across sectors, as well as community focus groups conducted in Providenciales and Grand Turk.

Following the visit, the team paid a courtesy call to the Hon. Minister of Health and Human Services, Shaun D Malcolm and the Executive Team from the Ministry of Health and Human Services, to provide a high level debrief and presentation of the preliminary findings of the assessment. Following further analysis of the findings of the visit, a final report will be submitted to the Ministry of Health and Human Services which will provide a number of conclusions as well as evidence-based recommendations for consideration by the Government.

Commenting on the visit, Hon. Shaun D Malcolm stated that “we welcome this support from UKHSA and FCDO with whom the Ministry of Health has enjoyed a close working relationship and technical support over the years, to formally assess the health needs of this population in order to ensure that the overall health of our population can be addressed in a holistic manner to ensure that universal access to health care is addressed.”

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Conrad Forbes appointed Principal of A. Louise Garland-Thomas High School  

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#TurksandCaicos, February 23, 2024 – The Office of the Deputy Governor is delighted to announce the appointment of Mr. Conrad Forbes as the new Principal of A. Louise Garland-Thomas High School within the Ministry of Education, Youth, Sport, and Social Services.

Mr. Forbes is a forward-thinking educational leader with a proven record of success. His journey in education began at Florida Atlantic University, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education in 2000 and a Master of Arts in Educational Leadership in 2003. Additionally, Mr. Forbes is currently pursuing a Master of Arts in Christian Ministry at Liberty University.

Mr. Forbes possesses a diverse skill set that includes instructional plan implementation, faculty development, school management, professional and ethical leadership. With over two decades of experience in education, Mr. Forbes has demonstrated his commitment to providing quality education and fostering positive learning environments. Throughout a notable tenure at Broward County Public Schools from 2006 to 2019, Mr. Forbes excelled as an Assistant Principal. He supervised educational programs for a Magnet Montessori Pre-K-8 school, initiated teacher mentor programs, and played a crucial role in curriculum alignment, faculty development, and fostering a cohesive school culture.

Mr. Forbes’s leadership journey continued as an Assistant Principal at Seminole County Public Schools, Bear Lake Elementary in Apopka, Florida, from 2019 to 2021. Here, he managed organizational processes, recruited effective faculty, and improved the learning environment, demonstrating a commitment to quality education.

Mr. Forbes expanded his impact by serving as the Dean of Students in the School Board of Osceola County from 2022 to 2023. Here, he successfully managed school operations, student discipline, and provided training to faculty on classroom management strategies.

Reflecting on his appointment, Mr. Forbes expressed, “It is with great humility and honor that I undertake the position of Principal at A. Louise Garland Thomas High School. With over twenty-three years of experience as an educator and administrator, I hold a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a master’s degree in educational leadership. I have worked in both primary and secondary levels and in culturally diverse communities.

As an educator, I have always been committed to promoting a conducive environment that encourages student achievement. My family’s native land is the Turks and Caicos Islands, and I am eager to make a positive impact on my community. In my experience, building robust relationships with the school’s stakeholders such as staff, students, parents, and partners is a critical component of high-performing schools. Therefore, I intend to continue the proud traditions of A. Louise Garland Thomas High School by upholding established relationships and creating new ones.”

Deputy Governor and Head of the Public Service, Her Excellency Anya Williams, congratulated Mr. Conrad Forbes on his appointment, stating: “It is a pleasure to welcome Mr. Conrad Forbes to the Turks and Caicos Islands Public Service as the new Principal of the A. Louise Garland-Thomas High School within the Ministry of Education, Youth, Sport, and Social Services.

Mr. Forbes brings along with him a wealth of experience from the education sector in United Stated as well as experience from his work with young men through various programs. We know that his presence at the high school will provide great value to the continued work of the school, and he will lead the charge to continue to strengthen the quality of education and learning at the A. Louise Garland Thomas High School.”

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