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Opposition Leader’s former secretary says she’ll vote ULP

Opposition Leader’s former secretary says she’ll vote ULP


Two years after she was given her marching orders, Rishatha Nicholls, former secretary to president of the New Democratic Party (NDP) Arnhim Eustace, says she and her family will not be voting for her former boss in the upcoming general elections.

“On behalf of my husband Leroy Nicholls,{{more}} our first time voter son, Caleb, our daughter – she is not yet able to vote – we will be voting for Luke Browne!” Nicholls made known at a Unity Labour Party (ULP) rally at Sion Hill on Saturday.

Nicholls was employed with Eustace from August 1, 2001 to March 28, 2013, when she was fired.

Clad a red T-shirt with Luke Browne’s name emblazoned across the chest, Nicholls took the podium, after being called up by Browne, the ULP candidate for that constituency, and spoke of her experience over 12 years of working with Eustace — painting a picture that it was difficult being his employee.

“I wasn’t prepared for this, but I am grateful for the opportunity to address you… I will not be long, but it is important to share with you,” Nicholls said.

Nicholls told party supporters she began working with Eustace at age 25, and at the time, was already married and a mother of two children, aged four and two.

She said when she took up the position, the NDP was trying to restructure after having lost government.

“…So, there was nothing for me. There was nothing to say that Rishatta was after politics; so I worked for seven years before I gained any vacation.”

Nicholls told an attentive crowd who stood in the rain, under umbrellas, at the Sion Hill intersection, that in the process, her children suffered, as for years, she did not pick up that her son was dyslexic.

Reflecting on the breakdown of her relationship with the Leader of the Opposition, Nicholls said he was not a good problem solver.

“He creates problems to solve problems. I was his secretary. You can’t tell me. I could tell you,” she stated.

The East Kingstown resident said that in order to work with Eustace, one has to be strong, and the members of the NDP know that.

“They know the struggles I went through working there,” Nicholls said, disclosing that she had to go to a lawyer to complain two fellow employees who had been slandering her name.

“I was the youngest employee there. Married, have children, have my level of education and I couldn’t get peace to do my job…,” Nicholls added.

She said it was important for persons to know of the “significant contributions” her former boss made to the East Kingstown constituency.

“The first one is, he fired Anesia (Baptiste) and she had to sell everything she and she husband worked for.”

Baptiste, a former NDP senator, now president and founder of the Democratic Republic Party (DRP) was fired in April 2012, after she said she would not obey an NDP policy that prohibits potential candidates of the NDP from commenting adversely on religion.

Nicholls said after that, she was fired, an act that nearly killed her husband.

“He took in 2 a.m. a morning and I had to call one of my taxi friends to help me carry him hospital. Nobody ain’t know. It almost cost my husband. At least it drained us, but God is good.”

When he fired her in March 2013, Eustace gave as his reasons the fact that he no longer trusted her, that she had failed to prepare the vote book and alleged that she used money intended for former talk show host Elwardo ‘EG’ Lynch for her own purposes.

Nicholls won a wrongful dismissal claim she brought against Eustace and was awarded $16,199.99 in severance pay.

The East Kingstown resident has since filed a law-suit against Eustace, claiming that on April 23 and 24, 2014, he defamed her on the popular morning radio programme “AM Mayhem,” hosted by Christopher “2Kool Kris” Jones, by saying words which were understood to mean that she was involved in corruption and had committed the criminal act of theft, an offence that is punishable by imprisonment.

The matter was called up for hearing in the High Court last Wednesday, but has been adjourned to a later date.

The former secretary said after she was fired, on the advice of Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, she enrolled in an Associate’s degree programme at the St Vincent and the Grenadines Community College (SVGCC).

“So, I am pleased to let you know by December I will be finishing my Associate degree in business at the SVG Community College as one of their top students,” Nicholls said to cheering ULP supporters.

“So you see, all things really work for good, you know. Because if I been there, I would have to still dey ah struggle to work, work, work, work, work for Eustace to benefit and nothing for me…”

She said Eustace thought that she was afraid of him.

“Remember, … Eustace is about 71. I am not yet 40, so it means he has already passed all the legal ages of retirement… But the country must continue to pay him to fire, but him and I still battling it out. He think I was soft. He think I ‘fraid him and he think I ‘fraid slander and accusations. No, it makes me strong.

“…Under Eustace, you ending up like Anesia Baptiste and Rishatta Nicholls….”

In closing, she thanked God and all those who supported her throughout the last two years.

“They abandon me. They throw me out. Me ain’t do them nothing, so at least if you love people, you will continue to function among people who will accept you, who would receive you and who will support you.”