A fascinating man we still don’t know
(Trying to decode Nazim Burke, the man who wants to be Grenada's Prime Minister)
I have watched Naz up close and personal for many years. I have listened to him from afar.
My first interfacing with him in local politics was when he was the Public Relations Officer of the National Democratic Congress.
We used to have one-on-ones. I was told that I should get to know him; someone, I was made to understand, who is bright and a next leader of the country.
I used to come out of those meetings with an unfeeling dissatisfaction equivalent of a one-night stand. You went in excited, and you came out disappointed.
I was reminded of that when I heard him at the press conference this past week – part lecturer, part full-of-himself, part dismissive of the world outside.
All on display, were the million and one reasons he fails to connect.
He needs to get out more; meet more people, we all say. And maybe there is a point to that.
But the more you get to know him, the more you come out not being too sure about him.
And that’s the dilemma NDC faces. You need to expose him, and then you need to hide him.
The proverbial rock and a hard place scenario, that just leaves you shaking your head saying – “poor thing.”
He is many things, but most of all – the king of vacillation; the master of talking up both sides of an issue and not deciding; a calculating (though of the miscalculating variety) political operative; caught up in his own world that misses many realities on the ground.
What his dwindling admirers see as his strength, is his eternal weakness.
Sometimes you can’t follow his political analysis – that defies common minds – that forces you to dismiss it as well – “I guess he is brighter than all of us.”
Like the issue of the constitutional reform. He has no problems with the recommendations. But he will vote against them, because he has problems with the others that are not there.
The lawyer in him should know very well about negotiated settlements; about inching towards a destination.
The miscalculating politician in him – his overriding character – cerebrally subscribes to an unsustainable, impractical – all or nothing.
And that is why people still don’t trust him. Not that he is bad guy. In fact, I think he is a good guy.
But people really don’t know who he is – and they don’t ever feel – for better or worse – what they see is what they get.
Naz’s biggest problem is not his self-declared “political enemies” as he sees them– including Peter Wickham, a political scientist and pollster from Barbados who conceivably, according to Naz, does have a dog in the Grenada political fight.
The problem he has with people like Wickham, is the same problem he had with the people he voted on the floor of the NDC convention to have expelled in 2012.
People that might challenge his own view of the world and suggest there just might be an alternative universe to his own.
It is that fear of an alternative view on the table, that has made him, conceivably engineered the exclusion of Franka, Tricks and Vincent from the NDC executive. Knowing him, he might have even convinced them that is a good thing.
But to give him the benefit of the doubt, for all you know what he said might be correct – he wanted the three to have more time to be on the ground.
Except– being on the executive is not exactly a full time political activity. He remains leader and certainly he will hit the ground at some point. One facilitates the other; not take away.
It may be a cruel accident that the only caretakers he cared to keep on the executive are some of his biggest supporters – Joseph Andall – as deputy leader and Randal Robinson – now promoted to PRO.
And it might just be cruel political irony that the people he replaced Bernadine, Tricks and Vincent with are his closest allies – and his enforcers from his St George’s North East constituency.
Heaven knows Naz has been beaten up – but he is his own worst punisher.
He has a wayward devil in his head that keeps advising him on untimely political ejaculation, such as he did this week at his weekly press conference in beating up on Ingrid Rush – the same woman he said is irrelevant.
Why waste time beating up on an irrelevant woman?
It’s one thing to disagree with Ingrid. But it’s a long shot to hate on her.
Frankly, having worked with Naz before – the endearing feeling I always had is a recurring frustration with a man, who has some intellectual grounding – only if he could find an effective way to put in into play in the real world for the good of not just himself – but all of mankind.
That many people believe Naz is unfeeling is not a myth. It is a reality borne out by history.
But I have always wondered how this Carriacou boy ended up here. Naz is from genuine working class stock. And he has to know the struggle; our struggle.
But you will never know that by just interfacing with the man.
And I say that not as a criticism; but with keen philosophical interest.
There is an enigma that is worth further study – and perhaps a lot of patience to decode – the kind of patience a five-year electoral cycle won’t afford him.
But enigmas are both interesting and boring at the same time. And they don’t end up running countries.
(For the unsuspecting: Naz is Nazim Burke, the former Finance Minister of Grenada who two years ago took over the decimated opposition. Franka is Franka Bernadine - his fellow senator and the woman who challenged his leadership. Tricks is Patrick Simmons, the now former General Secretary who once considered challenging Burke as leader. Vincent is George Vincent, another fellow senator, who some say had internally questioned the effectiveness of Burke's leadership).