Manele’s nomination gets everyone talking
No MP has ever secured the trust and confidence of his colleagues to contest the prime minister’s job on his first foray into parliament.
That is until Friday when Jeremiah Manele, a first-term parliamentarian, was nominated by the Solomon Islands People’s Democratic Coalition to be its candidate in Tuesday’s vote.
So what’s it that Manele, 46, got that convinced his camp to nominate him for the top job ahead of his more experienced colleagues?
Is he better than them or is the decision made for political convenience?
Whatever the reason, Manele’s nomination raised eye-brows and got everyone talking.
For those who knew Manele and followed his rise through the ranks of the Public Service, this is no surprise.
“Manele may be a first-time MP compared to Manasseh Sogavare, a fifth-term parliamentarian and two-time former PM, but when it comes to leadership and capabilities, they are on equal footing,” one commentator said.
“Manele’s nomination for prime ministership is a mark of change in Solomon Islands politics,” the commentator added.
“For those who follow his rise to political leadership, this is not a surprise,” he said.
He will be up against a more experienced politician in Sogavare, who was nominated by the Democratic Coalition for Change.
For Manele, this is a voter of confidence in his leadership.
“I humbly accept this opportunity and I wish to thank the Solomon Islands People’s Democratic Coalition for placing its trust and confidence in me,” he said.
One of his friends said “Manele is the face of change”.
And one prominent Isabel leader lamented:
“Isabel province is in awe today as we have the best opportunity to produce our first prime minister in our country’s history.
“Manele’s nomination is music to our ears,” he said.
Manele is not just a politician but a diplomat and a bureaucrat who served his country with honesty and commitment.
He was the permanent secretary for the Ministry of Development Planning and Aid Coordination (MDPAC) for two years until August 2014 during which he left to contest the Kia, Hograno and Havulei seat,which he won convincingly.
At MDPAC, Manele in his capacity as the PS also served as Director Authorizing Officer for EU Programmes.
He was also the chairman of the National Development Strategy Taskforce and the SIG-Donors quarterly meetings.
From 2008 – 2011, Manele held one of the key positions in the Office of the Prime Minister and Cabinet as the Secretary to Prime Minister and Cabinet Office.
As SPMC, he chaired PS meetings and prepared Government business for parliament. He also drafted and cleared Prime Minister’s speeches and ensured that the whole public service was working.
For two years (2006 – 2007) Manele was the Permanent Secretary of Foreign Affairs and External Trade where he represented the country in many regional and international meetings and conferences.
He was one of the key negotiators of the current arrangement for our students to study medicine in Cuba.
As a former deputy secretary to the Prime Minister, he served as the deputy chair of SIBC and secretary to the RAMSI Intervention Task force, during which he co-authored the Parliamentary White Paper on RAMSI’s intervention in Solomon Islands with the Manele served at the Solomon Islands Permanent Mission to the United Nation in New York as acting ambassador.
He entered the public service in 1993 as a desk-officer in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs after teaching Social Science and Economics at his former high school, Selwyn College.
Manele spent five years at Selwyn College at Nagilagu before doing form six at King George in 1987.
Recalling his days at Selwyn College, Manele once told former school mates of his good school days, especially working in the provincial bush gardens.
At completing his high school, Manele attended the University of Papua New Guinea where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Politics and Public Administration in 1991.
From 1995 – 1996, he attended the prestigious Oxford University in the UK where he attained Post Graduate Certificate in Diplomatic Studies.
Hailed from Samasodu village, he is married to Joycelyn. They have six children – four girls and two boys.
BY CHARLEY PIRINGI