EDITOR, The Tribune.
MOST Bahamians should know by now that the fifth prime minister elect of the Bahamas is the Rt Hon. Perry Gladstone Christie. He joins Hubert Ingraham as the only prime minister in Bahamian history to serve non-consecutive terms.
The Bahamas is now at a crossroads and there are many urgent issues facing our country. We have economic stagnation, home foreclosures, business closures and record unemployment. We also have the number one problem now facing the Bahamas today - crime.
From my recollection, our last four Ministers of National Security have not been true experts in the field. Mr Hubert Ingraham appointed Frank Watson after the 1997 general elections. In 2002, Perry Christie appointed Dr Cynthia "Mother" Pratt. In 2007, Hubert Ingraham appointed Tommy Turnquest and now in 2012, Christie has appointed Dr BJ Nottage as National Security Minister.
I hope that the average Bahamian can spot dead on from the facts stated above that we have established a consistent trend when it comes to selecting our chief gatekeepers of crime. We are selecting men and women whose skills are blatantly stronger in other areas and not giving this opportunity to better suited individuals.
First of all, Frank Watson was a deputy comptroller of Customs up until the late 1970's. Mother Pratt is an educator and a great Bahamian women, but her passion is in sports and the welfare of people. She is a towering Bahamian figure, but I think she would have been better served in Social Services during the first administration of Perry Christie. Tommy Turnquest is an ex-banker and he is used to crunching numbers. This is why he was so effective in releasing statistics to the public all the time. He would have better served the Bahamas in Finance. And now enter Dr Bernard Nottage, a doctor of medicine.
I am not at all enthused with this appointment because this is not an area in my view where Dr Nottage's expertise exists. Why not make the good doctor a Minister of Health and then allow Dr Perry Gomez to be a state minister of health. Can you imagine the level of professional expertise that the Bahamas could gain if Gomez and Nottage would have worked together in the Ministry of Health for the next five years?
For the last 12 years the Bahamas has not had a Minister of National Security who had a true background in this field. Could this be a contributing factor why our crime levels have surged especially over the last 10 years?
What about appointing a former prosecutor in the Attorney General's Office to this post? Can you imagine Cheryl Grant Bethel, a lawyer who knows the court system working directly with Keith Bell, a former senior police officer who is well aware of the criminal elements in our society? We need persons who understand the court systems very well and who have a career in trying to keep these criminally-minded persons where they belong - in Hotel Fox Hill Prison to lead our National Security Ministry.
Our leaders must realize by now that using political expediency in the appointment of cabinet ministers does not bode well for an efficient and effective government. Our crime problem is out of control and we need our best resources in key positions, no matter their political persuasion.
I want to remind the public that over the last 10 years over 800 murders have been committed in the Bahamas and less than 40 persons have been convicted of murder. The systems that we are using have ceased to work.
The Bahamas does not need a cabinet reshuffle in two years. The time to shuffle the cabinet is now. I say to Mr Christie to stand firm and place the best available persons in positions of authority.
Since becoming the government, we have already seen nine murders under the PLP. I am not saying that this falls totally at their feet, but this is no time to be dangling names in an effort to satisfy devoted members of the PLP who believe that they are owed a big post in government. This is the time now to make the Bahamas safe again. I am not happy with the appointment of Dr Nottage as Minister of National Security because I believe that the country could have used his tried and proven expertise in the Ministry of Health and because there are others more aptly qualified to fill this position.
As a patriotic Bahamian though, I pray that he can cause crime levels to be reduced through the effective management and execution of his areas of responsibility. Good luck.
May 15, 2012.