Friday 24 January, 2020

'From poor bad to Brogad': PM was a delinquent students' loan borrower

Andrew Holness

Andrew Holness

Prime Minister Andrew Holness is receiving an outpouring of support for something most people want to keep secret, or if they can’t, would love to forget about.

That relates to the fact that Jamaica’s ninth prime minister was such a delinquent when he borrowed money for his studies at the University of the West Indies (UWI) to pursue a degree in the social sciences in the 1990s, that his name was published in the newspaper among the most delinquent borrowers who had defaulted on their loans.

This information was posted on social media and there is now a raging debate as to who posted it, why it was posted and who is in fact benefitting from it having been posted.

According to the full page newspaper publication from the Students’ Loan Bureau (SLB), under the caption ‘Delinquent Student Loan Borrowers: “The following persons are in arrears in the repayment of their student loans at September 6, 1996”.

Holness, now 47, would have been 24 years old at the time and about a year from making his entry into the House of Representatives, which he did when he won the West Central St Andrew seat in the 1997 general election.

Holness’ name is circled in red and his then Eltham City, Spanish Town address - his mother’s home - is listed, as well as the fact that he was pursuing studies in the social sciences.

Holness is receiving support for "rising from humble beginnings" to becoming prime minister.

While it is not known whether it is the prime minister’s supporters or his perceived ‘political enemies’ who made the post, what is certain is that his supporters on social media are pointing their fingers at his so-called enemies, while lauding Holness for rising from difficult circumstances.

“I had a good laugh when I saw it posted with the intention to ‘shame’ the PM. Pity the poor fools,” said a post from Carlene Ramsay.

“Love this,” said Shirley Matthews.

For his part, Isaac Morrison said “The pain pee (PNP) think they hurting him but in fact they helping him”.

“Big up Brogod you know the people pain,” Ray Williams added.

In his own post, Government Senator and Parliamentary Secretary, Robert Morgan stated, among other things, that this was proof that “every ghetto yute can be great’; “from nothing to something,” and “from board house to Jamaica House”.

Holness has often told the story about his humble beginnings, including living in a board house at what would be considered a tenement yard in Spanish Town, St Catherine. He attended the nearby St Catherine High School and was spotted by the late former Prime Minister Edward Seaga in the mid-1990s doing volunteer work and was introduced to politics. 

The rest, as they say, is history.

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