The general elections are just around the corner and the horses (political) are out of the gates. This contest, I submit, will be between the ruling FNM (Free National Movement) and the opposition PLP (Progressive Liberal Party). The other fringe groupings and so-called parties will not even receive a single deposit back. Sad but true.
I would strongly urge all eligible Bahamians who were not on the electoral register last election to do so as soon as possible. The main parliamentary office is open and there are no large crowds so the process should proceed swiftly and without hassle. These elections will be decided by all demographics. Please allow me to break this proposition down.
The FNM is to be commended for implementing “free” education in our institutions such as the University of The Bahamas and BTVI (Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute). An educated citizenry is crucial to nation-building and economic stability. On the other hand, however, the economy was on the down-low ever since the passage of Dorian. The onslaught of COVID-19 and the handling of the same by the Minnis-led administration further sent the economy into a tail spin.
The FNM in opposition pledged that it would construct modestly priced homes for qualified Bahamians especially here on New Providence. I am unable to say whether or not a single home would have been started, much less completed, over the past four years and counting. The putative minister of housing and the environment has done a terrible job, in my opinion, and should have been relieved of his duties long ago. The Ministry of Works and Utilities appears to be in shambles and capable only of sidewalk construction and increasing fees and service charges for utilities in the midst of the ravages of the pandemic.
Other ministries are functioning but may well require life support systems. The Bahamas has been reduced to a breadline Third World outpost under the public policy initiatives adopted by the Minnis regime. No one is sure when the celebrated vaccines will arrive and who will get preferential treatment. Some 100,000 dosages are expected. The population is around 400,000. Does this mean that only a third or so of the population will be vaccinated, and who will be included in that number?
Infrastructure has gone south under this regime. Never before have there been so many potholes and craters in the modern history of The Bahamas. BPL (Bahamas Power and Light), despite raking in the money, continues to offer shoddy services and inconsistent supplies. God forbid that we have a little rain or a strong breeze gushes through. Now, despite the ongoing and debilitating effects of the capricious lockdowns and curfews, BPL and the Water and Sewerage Corporation are conducting massive disconnections.
The taxpayers’ subsidized Bahamasair is draining the Consolidated Fund daily of millions of dollars that could/should be deployed elsewhere, with no cuts in salaries, wages and perks that we know about. The Grand Lucayan was bought by the administration and was supposed to have been sold eons ago. Had the deal to sell this white elephant been done on a timely basis, The Bahamas would not now be stuck with a big white elephant. Run, if you will, on your record.
Since there appears to be little evidence of a record on which to run for reelection, it is a given that the FNM will resort to subtle and overt smear tactics, smoke screens and mirrors. Dubious, so-called international allies of the FNM will pop up like clockwork to support positions adopted or imposed on the regime. One such group, in my opinion, is some Rotary International “alleged” affiliate who said that it is presenting “an award” to the females who, so far, have stepped up to the plate to “accuse” Peter Nygard of serious sexual offences. It does not appear to matter to that group that Nygard is presumed innocent until he is proven otherwise in a court of law and not public opinion.
The new PLP, under the focused and benign leadership of the Hon. Philip “Brave” Davis, MP, QC, must and should expect all sorts of bogus and nebulous charges to be made against him and the party ad nauseam. The digitalization of campaigning is a must for he and the new PLP. In 2017, they were blindsided by the FNM and its alleged “foreign” advisors. This time around, they must step up to the plate and do whatever the law allows to rebut the same old stale allegations of corruption and sexual escapades.
I strongly suspect that a good friend of Dr Minnis is being groomed and set up to challenge the duly nominated PLP candidate for Tall Pines. The Hon. Leslie O Miller is a great Bahamian whom I admire and respect to the max. He is a lifelong member and supporter of the PLP from the days of the late, great and deeply lamented Sir Lynden Oscar Pindling. He’s served in cabinet and as chairman at assorted governmental agencies. He was defeated along with almost the entire old PLP slate.
Now, he says that he will run in Tall Pines again regardless if the new PLP does not nominate him. The Hon. Dr Michael Darville, another long-time and loyal PLP, is being considered by the Candidates Committee of the new PLP. If it were my call, I would urge the party to select Darville and let brother Leslie do whatever he feels is best for him. In running against a nominee, whoever that turns out to be, if not him, Leslie would be doing a grave disservice to his proclaimed “beloved” party.
Leslie has some serious and extensive financial challenges with the Bank of The Bahamas allegedly in the millions of dollars. What happens if he is ratified by the party and elected to the House? What would there be to stop an opposition member moving a resolution to have him declared a “bankrupt”, if that were possible? If successfully declared so to be, Miller will be obliged to vacate the Tall Pines seat and trigger an unnecessary by-election.
Let Minnis et al run on their record and not on distractions, smoke screens and mirrors. PLPs will never forget that at one point, Miller appeared on an FNM public platform and embraced Minnis. That was his right but a bad political move. To God then, in all things, be the glory.
Ortland H Bodie Jr
Business consultant and talk show host