RETURNING TO the helm of state after five years to ponder what went wrong in his first five years in office, Prime Minister Perry Christie has promised to do his “very best.”
No more can be asked of any man, but Mr Christie has inflicted upon himself a heavy burden of promises of what he plans to deliver in his first 100 days in office. To do this he cannot spend weeks consulting before a decision is made. Once made, efficient execution must follow and the train of cause and effect must keep moving to a satisfactory conclusion.
No longer should Bahamians have to read a letter from an investor that ends with the words… “If we cannot achieve the early February timeframe for accomplishing the above, I will have to inform (the principals) that, despite my best efforts these past three odd years, the Government of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas has failed me. I certainly do not want to be known as the developer (and I’m certain you don’t want to be known as the Prime Minister) that lost (the investment). Today more than ever before, I need your unambiguous support, Mr. Prime Minister.”
This letter referred to a large investment that was being negotiated for much of Mr Christie’s five-year term in office – right up to two days before the 2007 election, which he lost. Negotiations for this development were eventually completed by the Ingraham government and it is now well on its way to completion.
The loss of the government in 2007 so shocked the dismissed Christie government that the PLP commissioned a firm of experts to find out what went wrong.
Their report advised the PLP to cleanse itself of its scandal-ridden reputation. It had to take, said the report, “concrete actions that convey its seriousness about purging corruption from the party and state.” The perception among voters, it said, was that the PLP was “more focused on doing things that benefit its own politicians than for people.”
Mr Christie’s misfortune on this, his second chance, is that he enters his new term with much the same baggage that he had in his first. This is where he has to work hard on his leadership style, which the report found was perceived as “weakness.”
To succeed, said the Greenberg Quinlan Rosher report, Mr Christie has to be seen as “a forceful, decisive leader.”
A pleasant man, who wants to be liked, Mr Christie was considered a push over by a headstrong cabinet, members of which acted as though they were mini-governments unto themselves. They were like a handful of pint-sized Sputniks firing off in every direction on their own little missions, ostensibly on behalf of the Bahamas government. Mr Christie can start by cutting their travel, and as a consequence their travel expenses.
Mr Christie has to be seen as leading from the front, not being pushed from behind. And when his ministers do wrong, let God deal with forgiveness. It is Mr Christie’s duty, in an effort to raise the integrity and moral standards of this country, to administer punishment. Punishment should be swift and decisive and administered in such a way that there is no mistaking who is in charge. Mr Christie has to remember, it is more important to be respected than to be loved. If he can get over this desire to be popular, he might eventually change his profile.
With at least 14 projects to accomplish in the next 100 days, Mr Christie has no time for long, drawn out talk sessions that deteriorate into social chat-room banter. Business is business and it must get done efficiently. He should keep his 100-day calendar on his wall and follow it diligently.
In his 200-page “Vision 2030” Mr Christie said he plans to conduct a referendum on gambling. His much talked-about Urban Renewal programme, which to hear him and his supporters tell it is the panacea to all the country’s problems – especially crime — will be relaunched. He plans to double the budget for education.
Here we caution that he should concentrate on quality education, for no matter how much money he throws at the shy beast, it will not budge unless there is an incentive to move forward. He has promised to lower the cost of electricity. He has also promised to better control our borders. The Ingraham government has invested much in this, all that is left for Mr Christie’s government is to ensure that there is no backsliding by whatever minister he appoints as the overseer. And, of course, he promises to speedily get crime under control. This we shall watch — as with all his other promises — very closely. In fact we shall also have his 100-day commitments on our wall to see if his government, this time around, picks up its snail’s pace.
Yes, Mr Christie has promised the Bahamian people much. If he is to deliver on those promises he needs the support of the nation. For the sake of the Bahamas he deserves that support.
For all of our sakes, we wish him and his government well.