BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, OCTOBER 26TH, 2016 (OPM) — Senator the Honourable Wendy Phipps hails the appointment of Mrs. Akilah Byron-Nisbett to the post of Senator in the National Assembly as “a welcomed change to the face and shape of Parliament.” This is a sentiment echoed by their Parliamentary colleagues, including Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris and the Honourable A. Michael Perkins, Speaker of the National Assembly.
Thirty-five-year-old Mrs. Byron-Nisbett, who is a mother of two boys and one girl ages eight, five, and eight months old, took the Oath of Allegiance today, Wednesday, October 26th, at Government House. The Governor General, His Excellency Sir S. W. Tapley Seaton GCMG, CVO, QC, JP, administered the oath in the presence of Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris, Premier of Nevis and Senior Minister the Honourable Vance Amory, Senator the Honourable Vincent Byron Jr., Senator the Honourable Wendy Phipps, and Cabinet Secretary Mrs. Josephine Huggins.
Dr. the Rt. Excellent and the Rt. Honourable Sir Kennedy Simmonds, our first Prime Minister and only living National Hero, was also in attendance, as well as family members of Mrs. Byron-Nisbett including her husband Mr. Alexis Nisbett and her parents Mr. and Mrs. Terrance and Althea Byron.
During the ceremony, Prime Minister Harris said that, “She [the Honourable Akilah Byron-Nisbett] represents the voice of women in the country, but most importantly she has carved out a niche to be the voice of young people in the National Assembly of St. Kitts and Nevis. We are delighted as a Cabinet to have chosen her to be the Government’s representative as a Senator, and we will propose her to be the Deputy Speaker when the House convenes, bringing an end to the vacancy that now exists with the elevation of the Honourable Michael Perkins as the distinguished Honourable Speaker of the National Assembly.”
The Honourable Prime Minister announced on Wednesday, June 29th, 2016, that the Government of National Unity intended to nominate Mr. A. Michael Perkins as Speaker of the St. Kitts and Nevis Federal Parliament. On May 11th, 2016, the Federal Cabinet issued a statement, announcing that the Honourable Franklin R. O. Brand, Speaker of the National Assembly, had resigned his post due to health reasons. On May 14th, 2015, Mr. Brand was inaugurated Speaker during the Ceremonial Opening of Parliament under the Team Unity Administration.
At his press conference on Wednesday, June 29th, Prime Minister Harris explained that Mr. Perkins had tendered his resignation as Senator earlier in the day. This resulted in the Deputy Speaker position falling vacant, as per Section 32(6) of the Constitution. Mr. Perkins was elected Deputy Speaker on May 14th, 2015. Mr. Perkins was elected Speaker of the National Assembly on Thursday, June 30th, 2016, leaving the Deputy Speaker post vacant as mentioned today by the Honourable Prime Minister.
“So we are lucky to have found a young person, and not just a young person, but I would say an extraordinary young person,” Prime Minister Harris said at this morning’s ceremony.
The Speaker of the National Assembly, the Honourable A. Michael Perkins, followed up later in the day with a congratulatory note to the Honourable Akilah Byron-Nisbett. The note reads in part: “It is with a deep sense of pride and honour that I extend to you heartiest and sincerest congratulations on your appointment to the position of Senator in the National Assembly of St. Kitts and Nevis…Let me also add that I think it always bodes well for good governance to have greater representation of women and our Youth within the Parliamentary system and democracy on a whole.”
Senator Phipps said today that, “We now have a complement of three females in Parliament; two on the Government side and the one other person on the Opposition side. We also have in the Nevis Island Assembly the presence of one female.” The Honourable Phipps added: “I am grateful that we have more of a system of equity developing in terms of the balance of gender in Parliament.” She noted that this should make a tangible mark on “the substance and the quality of what the debates will be about.”
According to Senator Phipps, Mrs. Byron-Nisbett’s appointment will also give a voice to the young people of St. Kitts and Nevis, as well as inspiration.
Senator Phipps, who serves as Minister of State within the Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender Affairs and Social Services, noted that the Honourable Byron-Nisbett has been involved in the execution of the annual Haynes Smith Miss Caribbean Talented Teen Pageant, having served most recently as the pageant’s Chairperson and Executive Producer. Senator Byron-Nisbett has also been a member of the St. Kitts National Youth Parliament Association (SKNYPA), and has had the distinction of representing the Federation in the year 2000 at the Commonwealth Millennium Youth Parliament.
The Honourable Wendy Phipps commended the Honourable Akilah Byron-Nisbett’s commitment to community development, and added that she is someone whom others, particularly women and young people, can emulate.
“More effort should be focused in terms of what we at the individual level can be doing to make St. Kitts and Nevis better, so that collectively the compound of that effort in terms of building a country becomes a reward at a greater propensity, at a greater level, so that everybody could benefit,” Senator Phipps said in an interview with the Press Unit in the Office of the Prime Minister following this morning’s ceremony.