By ADRIAN GIBSON
I BEGIN by noting that my column will not be appearing over the next two weeks as I will be dealing with some very important matters that require my full attention. This column will return in three weeks.
This week marked the second anniversary since the PLP won the government by a landslide in 2012. The FNM also held a rally at its headquarters to bemoan the PLP’s subpar performance during that time. It was quite interesting to watch the political manoeuvrings this week, with all of the parties—FNM, PLP and DNA—scurrying about to cast blame, insincerely claiming high marks for their performances and/or seeking to win the affections of the Bahamian people.
During the FNM’s event on Tuesday, there was noticeably one person missing—former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham. Just as the PLP uses the likeness and sounds of former Prime Minister the late Sir Lynden Pindling, the FNM must ensure that he’s visible and present. By all accounts, his stock within the party—and indeed the country—remains high and has risen over the last two years where I’ve personally heard folks of all political stripes comparatively yearning for his governmental approach.
I thought that the FNM’s rally—whilst good for the base—was a lacklustre, mudslinging affair. I heard nothing new. We want to know about the party’s vision for the Bahamas, how young people will be incorporated into this vision and what the FNM will do to advance national affairs. I am tired of hearing ramblers taking to national stages and going on about the FNM this-and-that or the PLP this-and-that! Is there anything of substance—besides playing the blame game—that the Opposition wishes to bring to the table? The tit-for-tat that the governing PLP is engaged in—where every time something arises a minister says “oh, the FNM did it too”—is silly, absurd and downright insulting to many Bahamians. We desire true governance and thinking Bahamians aren’t interested in hearing politicians engaged in pissing matches, to score what they—in the dark recesses of their deluded minds—believe to be impressive talking points, i.e. I-get-you moments. Both of the main political parties appear to be preoccupied with scoring cheap political brownie points at the expense of a nation. Whilst the internal backslapping persists, they should know that we are not impressed!
Clearly, the performance of the governing party over the last two years leaves much to be desired. Whilst I could waste time and space elaborating on their failures, I’d like to know about our true alternatives. What could they be?
If the FNM or the DNA—now receiving a bounce with the admission of Super Value owner Rupert Roberts and his wealth to their fold and to lift the party’s cash flow status—have solutions to crime, we would all like to hear them. The next time members of the three parties give self-serving speeches or hold inconsequential press conferences, why not speak directly to the issues and say what you will do in the position you now hold or if placed in a similar position.
Opposition parties, please tell us: What are your plans to tackle unemployment versus their plan? What is your vision for improving the touristic product versus theirs?
And, can either the PLP or FNM admit when either side has done or proposes to do something that is good? Do they have to adopt the ignorance displayed by the Republicans in the United States and oppose everything merely for the sake of opposing?
When will the parties and community stakeholders sit and craft a national development plan, one that could guide our national development over a 15-20 year span as opposed to redundant, pie-in-the-sky promises that are reworded and resubmitted to the public during every general election cycle? When was the last time that more than 50 per cent of the heads promised in a political manifesto was delivered upon? So far—all things considered—the current government has seemingly fulfilled about two to three per cent of what they promised, that is, the appointment of a minister for Grand Bahama and one or two other incidentals. Relative to the major promises, ranging from mortgage relief to the implementation of national health insurance in year one to a combative, solutions-oriented approach to crime to the creation of 10,000 jobs to their plethora of promises that were set down for materialization during the long passed 100-day benchmark—we have seen little to nothing.
That said, even with this year-over-year trend of pitiable governance, the FNM has not capitalized.....they have had no great epiphanies. Whilst I criticised the DNA heavily during and after the last political cycle, at least there appears to be a concerted thrust that—if one reads their weekly, email blasted columns or watch press conferences—are at least demonstrative of expressions of alternative solutions, with consideration for the fact that, yes, they can be overly generic and parroting in some instances. There are many persons—young and old—who have expressed to me their disaffection with both the PLP and the FNM and who emphatically state that they are going green in 2017. Do I believe most of them? No. Do I believe that at least half of them will do as they say? Possibly!
However, I’ve always known Bahamians to politically switch at the drop of a hat, complaining for four and a half years about their party or government, only to become swept up in a political tidal wave and, in the blink of an eye, return to their political homesteads or vote for who they believe could win. It is never about the issues. Bahamians love to be on the winning team—whether politically or otherwise. This is also the reason why no third party has ever won the government; it is for this reason why some folks were shocked at the number of voters that the DNA managed to attract in one year of existence. I was shocked because I too had written them off. Could the DNA capitalize on the disenchantment of the masses many of whom claim to be fed up with both the PLP and the FNM—yes! If that turns into votes, then one would safely forecast that the DNA wold have an even better showing in the next general election. Can they win? I doubt it.
As a student of history and politics, I continue to doubt that—considering the impending and ongoing political manoeuvrings—the DNA will be in existence in 2017. Politics make strange bedfellows and the leader of the DNA is a politically appealing, charismatic chap who—according to well-placed sources—is high atop the list of FNM insiders. Whilst some say that he would not be offered the leadership, he could be offered a foremost post within the party/the Cabinet. Stranger things have happened and, when it comes to politics, nothing would surprise me.
As it stands though, I challenge both the FNM and the DNA to propose solutions, to offer true alternatives to the public. Anyone can complain and nitpick.
Since the FNM is the official Opposition, I conclude with a few questions:
Where is the FNM’s position paper on crime? On unemployment? On agriculture and fisheries? On our natural resources? On youth development? On culture and cultural development? On education? On urban renewal and Family Island development? On means and ways to streamline the budget? On economic diversification?
Where is the Opposition’s position paper on anything substantive and of value to our nationhood? Why the delay?
Now is the time for the official Opposition to go in for the kill and offer the public a contrasting view of themselves versus the current governing party.......