New senators promise to serve the Jamaican people

SENATE newcomers Abka Fitz-Henley and Dr Dana Morris Dixon have given their firm commitment to utilise the opportunity afforded them to sit in the Upper House to serve the Jamaican people.

The Government senators expressed their gratitude and intent as they were sworn in on Friday, following Thursday’s announcement of the appointments by Prime Minister Andrew Holness, in what he said was “part of a broader reorganisation, refresh and revitalisation” of his Administration.

Stellar academic and expert in financial affairs Dr Morris Dixon told colleague senators, “I know very clearly this is not about me; it is about service. I believe it’s important that all of us in here who had all of these opportunities that so many didn’t, that we use our skills and our talents to serve our country. I pray that I will serve my country very well.”

Industry-decorated and celebrated former journalist Fitz Henley also stressed his gratitude for the opportunity to serve. “It is not lost on me that the preeminent and quintessential political practitioner in the country and Jamaica’s first post-Independence-born prime minister has in his judgement afforded me the opportunity to serve my country via this noble chamber. I do not intend to disappoint the expectations attached to that opportunity,” he stated. Fitz-Henley also expressed gratitude to Senate President Tom Tavares-Finson for his guidance over the years, on matters outside of media and politics.

The senator said his interest in politics started from as early as the age of 10, when he visited a sitting of Gordon House. “That piqued my initial interest in the affairs of Government and governance, and I thought alas, maybe one day I would have the opportunity to serve. Alas, that day has come. I will not make a bunch of promises; however, I commit to the Jamaican people, to do right by our country

Welcoming the senators, Tavares-Finson said, “We trust that the manner in which you have carried out your allotted task elsewhere in the private sector, and the manner in which you have approached your various professions, we trust that that enthusiasm and competence will be brought into this chamber to the benefit of this Jamaica land we love.”

Morris Dixon and Fitz-Henley replace Natalie Campbell-Rodriques and former state minister, Leslie Campbell, who resigned from the Upper House.

Industry investment and commerce minister Senator Aubyn Hill said there was good reason for Morris Dixon’s appointment, given her illustrious academic and career achievements. “Dr Morris Dixon clearly comes with a great deal of experience. It is my distinct pleasure to welcome Dr Dana Morris Dixon,” he stated, outlining her years of experience in the private and public sectors.

Of Fitz-Henley, he remarked, “It is rare that I have to talk about someone who is already a national figure. Abka Fitz-Henley is known as ‘Mr Breaking News’. Whether you like it or not, any time you hear breaking news it’s Abka. He speaks on Jamaica to the international press, and about Jamaica. We congratulate him on the work he has done,” Hill said.

Speaking on behalf of the Opposition, Senator Peter Bunting said he looked forward to Fitz-Henley’s contribution as a successful legislator, and Dixon Morris’s expertise as a financial sector expert.

Senators also commended outgoing colleagues Campbell-Rodrigues and Campbell on their contribution to the work of the Upper House.

In a statement issued by Jamaica House on Thursday, Prime Minister Andrew Holness said the two former senators would continue to give valuable service in other roles which will be announced soon.

The resignations confirmed news emerging in recent weeks that the prime minister wanted to make room to reshuffle the executive. Fitz-Henley, who studied law, is an award-winning journalist, who honed his craft at Nationwide News Network (NNN), and was named Journalist of the Year by the Press Association of Jamaica in 2016. He left NNN in January 2022, where he had been co-hosting the current affairs morning show, Nationwide this Morning.

Dr Morris Dixon is a 2004 Fulbright Scholar and an alumna of The University of the West Indies (UWI). She is also a graduate of Josef Korbel School of International Studies where she completed a PhD in International Studies, as well as Harvard Business School’s executive programme.

She has served in the public sector, including on the Jamaica education transformation commission; and as a senior executive of Jamaica National Group, and managing director of JN General Insurance. She executed several large-scale strategic projects, including the launch of the first Caribbean bank to be authorised in the United Kingdom in 2020, and the reorganisation of the Jamaica National Group that created JN Bank and the new group structure in 2017. The senator also sits on the board of Campion College, her alma mater.