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A 'child king' can lead: THA chief sec reflects on anniversary - Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

THE title of Chief Secretary was always meant to be a temporary one for Buccoo/Mt Pleasant representative Ancil Dennis.

At 33, he became the youngest Chief Secretary on May 6 last year, when his predecessor Kelvin Charles was asked to resign, after losing the PNM Tobago Council leadership to Tracy Davidson-Celestine in an internal election.

On assuming the post, Dennis made it clear he respected the convention that the leader of the political party that wins the THA election would become Chief Secretary.

But the January 25 six-six deadlock, to which no solution was found after the THA election, has seen Dennis keep the Chief Secretary’s seat warm for much longer than anticipated.

In an interview with Sunday Newsday on Thursday, Dennis said he felt privileged to serve – and was not getting comfortable in the position.

"I've long accepted that this was not going to be anything permanent. But that's the way it is in public life, nobody is guaranteed anything," he said. "In the Cabinet of TT recently there were changes. Changes can happen any time.

“I'm not one to get comfortable or complacent. It's an opportunity to serve, have a positive impact on fellow Tobagonians.

"I conduct my business with understanding that I'm not here forever. No position belongs to me."

Dennis, who has a master's in public policy and management from the University of London, said the island's future is in good hands, with young leaders coming to the fore.

"It augurs well for our development. It is better to contribute in this way when you are young and you have the energy and vibrant and substance.

“Some are fortunate to stay in it very long. The Prime Minister is 71 and he has been in this from a very young age.

"It is not often (young) people are entrusted with leadership at the very top. It augurs well for young people on the island. My performance shows as an encouragement to people across the country that young persons can actually lead and do well.

“There will always be the element of inexperience, but once people are humble (enough) to understand they don't know it all and listen to the advice of even young people who have expertise, people can learn quickly."

[caption id="attachment_891119" align="alignnone" width="683"] File photo: Chief Secretary Ancil Dennis.[/caption]

Contempt for young leaders

Asked whether he ever faced a situation where the required respect was not forthcoming because of to his age, Dennis said: "Yeah, generally, persons tend to have some contempt for youthful persons in my position.

"Some members (Watson Duke) of the opposition in Tobago thought it necessary to refer to me as a ‘child king’ or an ‘OJT’ (on-the-job trainee).

“There is (also) some contempt for persons in position of leadership.”

But when he got to work, he said, people realised age didn't matter, “because despite my young age I have the capacity to lead the island effectively during this pandemic."

Looking to the future, Dennis is eagerly anticipating the passage of the Tobago Self Government Bill and the