BASSETERRE, St. Kitts – AS THE FEDERATION bids farewell to Dr. Simeon Daniel, former Premier of Nevis, who died on Sunday May 27 2012, history will record that he was a pioneering force and steered the course of events that had far reaching outcomes for the twin-island Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis.
Many will list the chronological events in his life, but the role he played on the political stage and the decisions he had to make then, will single him out as an astute politician, not fearing to pause, or change course as he surveyed the evolving political landscape.
It is through Simeon Daniel that the long reign of the Labour Party in St. Kitts came to an end in 1980, when he made the courageous decision to form a coalition government with the People’s Action Movement. This effectively ended the Labour Party’s fifteen year old administration and it would be another fifteen years before they were able to leave the opposition benches.
When he felt that Nevis was being neglected by the Bradshaw regime, he boldly started a drive for Independence for Nevis. However, he had the maturity to pause with his demands when the government changed as he assessed a new political administration.
But he did not totally abandon this goal as he demanded and got a clause inserted in the Constitution (113) giving Nevis the right to secede if it could prove through a referendum that this was what the majority of Nevisians wanted.
There is no doubt that Simeon Daniel had the interest of the people of Nevis at heart and sought always to further their cause and bring relief to Nevisians. He founded the Nevis Reformation Party and mobilised Nevisians to protest against what was regarded as unfair treatment meted out to Nevisians by the Bradshaw regime.
As Minister of Finance in the PAM/NRP administration, he positioned himself to ensure that he was able to have a say in the distribution of Government funds. Hitherto Nevis had been far away from any decision making with regard to the finances of the central government.
He established the Bank of Nevis in 1985, and according to one Nevis report “he played an important role in the establishment of the Sixth Form College in Nevis and he must be credited with bringing our flagship Four Seasons Resort to Nevis – which has been the single most important and most successful venture in the entire history of Nevis, creating jobs, income and wealth for hundreds of Nevisians”.
Dr. Daniel has acted as an important bridge between St. Kitts and Nevis, providing that opportunity to enable them to explore the pros and cons of a federal relationship.
In addition, he has also been a bridge between both political parties in Nevis – for even as Founding Father of the Nevis Reformation Party, his partner in the law firm of Daniel, Brantley and Associates was none other than Mark Brantley, Federal Leader of the Opposition and member of the Concerned Citizens Movement (CCM).
Whether this bridge was ever used is not clear.
But there is no doubt that Dr. Daniel’s life will form a bridge over generations to come.
The Bank of Nevis which he founded established a Simeon Daniel Scholarship to commemorate their 25th anniversary.
No other quote sums this up better than the one given by his son, Lawyer Adrian Daniel, who spoke on behalf of his father, to the recipient of The Bank of Nevis Limited ‘Simeon Daniel Scholarship’ for 2011.
He passed on advice that he said his father (Dr. Simeon Daniel) had given to him. He said:
"He has always told me to work hard and keep trying although there may be obstacles in the way. You must always have faith in God and keep working hard and things will always work out. I am living proof, sitting here today that hard work pays off"
Prior to entering the political arena, Dr. Daniel worked as
• Teacher, Nevis, 1950-1957
• Clerk, Executive Officer, London County Council, 1960-66
• Assistant Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs, Nevis, 1966
• Crown Counsel, St Kitts & Nevis, 1968
• Registrar, Supreme Court, Nevis, 1968-69
• Additional Magistrate, Nevis 1968-69
• Entered Private Practice in 1969
He went on to become:
• Founding Member, Nevis Reformation Party, 1970
• Chairman, Local Council 1972-80
• Elected Member, National Assembly, May 1975, February 1980
• Minister of Finance and Minister of Nevis Affairs, 1980-83
• Premier and Minister of Finance Development and Planning, 1983-92
• Formation of Daniel, Brantley & Associates with Mark Brantley in 1996
(Ref. Website of Daniel, Brantley and Associates)
He was born in Nevis on August 22, 1934 and was First Premier of Nevis from 1983 to 1992.
Both political parties in Nevis feel that Dr Daniel should be made a national hero and/or be knighted as the First Prime Minister of St. Kitts was.
Recently the newly opened Centre for the Performing Arts in Nevis has been named in his honour.
Dr. Daniel has received the following honours from outside thus far:
• Doctor of Laws (Honorary), Marquis Giuseppe Scicluna International University Foundation, 1987; Albert Einstein Bronze Medal for Peace, Albert Einstein Bronze International Academy Foundation, 1987;
• International Order of Merit Medal by the International Biographic Centre of Cambridge England in 2000;
• The International Biographic Centre of Cambridge England inducted him in their hall of fame for outstanding work in the field of Government in 2005.
Dr. Simeon Daniel will always be remembered with gratitude by nationals of the Federation for the pivotal role he played in helping them to achieve Independence and for bridging the gap between St. Kitts and Nevis whose families have been united by blood and marriage for countless generations.
May his soul rest in peace.