IN Marathon last night to introduce attorney Heather Hunt as the FNM’s candidate for that constituency, Prime Minister Ingraham announced that on Wednesday the House of Assembly had finished its work. It is now up to Mr Ingraham to set a date for the election, which must come before May 23 when constitutionally the life of the five-year parliament automatically ends.
Mr Ingraham said he plans to dissolve the House on or before May 2, but the holy season of Easter will be respected when there will be no campaigning. Therefore, the window of opportunity for last-minute electioneering is closing quickly. Within the next few weeks, before Bahamians can catch their breath, they will be going to the polls. Election fever will be over. It will be back to business for whichever administration is chosen to lead this country for the next five years.
Giving an accounting last night of his government’s five years in office, Mr Ingraham said his government had passed the Freedom of Information Act, one of the last pieces of legislation dealt with by this parliament. He said that among many other things, his government had also taken back “6,000 acres of beachfront and other lands in Mayaguana which the PLP sold for a penny on the dollar to foreigners.”
His government, he continued, had “approved a Resolution to give title to land to 68 families in South Andros”.
He pointed out that “these families have been seeking to obtain title to land on which they have built their homes and businesses for more than 45 years. Despite the fact that the former PLP Prime Minister was also their MP, they failed to deliver title to these people.
“During the life of this Parliament,” he continued, “we passed 212 pieces of legislation versus 141 by them (PLP) when they were in office the last time. And we answered all questions asked by the Opposition during this term. We are not leaving 64 unanswered questions behind as they did in 2007.”
He reminded the Christie government of the 2002 election when the PLP went to great lengths to repackage themselves as the “New PLP” in an attempt to sever all connection with the 25-year reign of Sir Lynden’s administration and all its bitter memories. Recently, Mr Christie announced that in this election he is the “bridge from Sir Lynden to the future”.
Mr Christie obviously thinks that those who suffered greatly during the Pindling years and a country whose international reputation was tarnished by the drug trade, have forgotten. The truth is that the staunch PLP who – regardless of what Sir Lynden or his cohorts did – could see no wrong, are not only aging, but are going to their graves. What Mr Christie seems not to have taken into consideration is that the hurt of those years runs so deeply that it has been passed down as far as the third generation.
“I shall never forget,” a young Long Islander told us after hearing Mr Christie’s crossing the bridge comment, “how my grandparents were treated.” He recounted stories of how when a government road was being constructed the paving would stop just before it got to his grandparents’ house. How a government lightpole in front of their home was knocked down and removed. He had many stories to tell — all passed on to him by his grandparents. “The PLP were wicked, they were cruel,” he said. “As long as I live I can never vote PLP!”
The same story was coming from Inagua, where during the PLP administration families who did not vote PLP were persecuted. A Turks Island father, once a pillar of the Mathew Town community, could no longer live or work in Inagua. The Morton Salt company gave him a job on one of their ships, which operated from Mathew Town so that when the ship was in port he could see his wife and children. However, when the ship was in port, he was not allowed to land. There were many other stories of cruel family disruptions and broken homes on that island — and the children and grandchildren, who will vote in this election, have not forgotten.
There are adults recalling the Hatchet Bay story when their mothers were told words to the effect that if they did not support the Pindling government, they would not be allowed to live by it. They were fired. There is a new generation of Bahamians, who have heard the family stories, been angered by them and declared, “As long as I live, never, never PLP!”
Last night, Prime Minister Ingraham told Marathon constituents that the PLP were recently in Sir Lynden’s old constituency of South Andros to celebrate his birthday. “They put his picture on the podium as if he were the candidate,” said Mr Ingraham, “then they played a recording of him speaking. They said they were celebrating the anniversary of his birthday.”
Mr Ingraham said that while Sir Lynden was in office he had birthday anniversaries in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007, but never once were they celebrated in his constituency. Obviously the PLP are now trying to bring back fond memories of their former representative — the first prime minister of the Bahamas.
We do not know how generous Sir Lynden was to his constituents, but we do recall that on at least one occasion they were very generous to him. The 1984 Commission of Inquiry into the transshipment of dangerous drugs to the US noted that Sir Lynden identified for the Commissioners a “$16,000 deposit on 21st December 1982 as a gift from his constituents. The deposit slip shows that the deposit was made up of 100 bills of $100 each.” This raised many eyebrows at the time as people wondered how such poor people would be dealing in $100 bills.
Mr Christie’s bridge from Sir Lynden to the future has many rotten planks that would best have been left in the past. Mr Christie’s only bridge to the future should be of his own achievements, not Sir Lynden’s.