EDITOR, The Tribune.
The recently concluded general elections in the UK have resulted in a majority Conservative government and the return to 10 Downing Street of Prime Minister David Cameron. At one point the now vanquished leader of the Labour Party, Ed Miliband, was considered neck and neck with the Conservatives by most polls, if not a majority. The results, however, were decisive and spoke volumes about just how the average electorate sees political parties and judges their manifestoes or charters for governance.
It would seem, on balance, that the FNM and its erstwhile leader, Dr Hubert Minnis (FNM-Killarney), are in a strong and insurmountable position to wipe out, literally, the PLP in the upcoming general elections. Is that, on balance, really possible? That is the million dollar question that Minnis and the FNM must answer soon.
Minnis, in my view, has been ducking the broadcast media, inclusive of radio talk shows, in recent times. He is not, I submit, a natural speaker, much less an orator. He is, of course, a decent Bahamian and, I believe, a patriotic one. He appears not to be a man with a cohesive plan of action to rescue the country. It is precisely because of this perception that the FNM may well be defeated in 2017. If this were to occur it might not be good for democracy.
Immediately following the general elections in the UK all of the leaders of the major opposition parties resigned, even if they were re-elected to their particular constituency. British politics is a brutal and vicious sport. To the victor goes the proverbial spoils.
To his everlasting credit the Rt Hon Hubert Alexander Ingraham resigned as leader of the defeated FNM in 2012 and his North Abaco safe seat shortly thereafter.
The current PM has been in active front line politics for more than 40 years. He has done well for himself and his family. In two non-consecutive terms, the salient question which must be asked (and answered) is whether or not Christie has served beyond his shelf life.
He has failed to initiate any new state sponsored entities in the manner the late Sir Lynden Oscar Pindling would have done. His style of leadership is not, I submit, conducive to taking The Bahamas to the next level.
This month marks the period when the pension for former prime ministers kicks in. Christie is now able to demit front line politics and live the life of Riley until he passes over the Jordan. His wife, God bless her soul, if she survives him, will be able to collect the bulk of that pension until her own death. There is now, I postulate, no real or good reason for Christie to prolong his long anticipated departure from the leadership of the PLP and by extension the administration.
Mr Christie’s supporters say that he needs more time to complete his agenda. I do not subscribe to this patently bogus position. How much more time does one need to complete an agenda that has been in the making for four decades? Apart from a junkanoo/carnival extravaganza and the shuffle it is abundantly clear that now is the time for fresh leadership to emerge within the PLP. The established “old guard”, represented by Christie, has run its race.
Whether or not it ran it well is still out for discussion but they have played their role on centre stage and must now exit the same.
Christie has long demonstrated that he loves the trappings of political power and sees them as a means towards an obvious end. That end, I submit, has come to a conclusion, mercifully. Thank God we now have an identifiable management associate for BEC. Thank God that the celebrated junkanoo/carnival has come and gone.
It will be interesting to see the crunch financial figures that will be conjured up by the government and its “private” advisors.
It is interesting to note that at least two of the members of the commission charged with responsibility for the junkanoo/carnival are board members of one of the major web industry players. It is also interesting to note that the financial results and stimulus of the Grand Bahama launch of the festivals were released by Paul Major, Chairman of the commission and Chairman of the Board for a major web industry player which seems to be one of the most vocal and preferred applicant.
Objections to the granting of web licenses were to be submitted by the 28th April, 2015. It is now well into May, 2015 and we have yet to know publicly who the short listed successful applicants are. One of the applicants is owned by an individual who has an outstanding criminal conviction. Another one used to be associated with an individual who is known to have been indicted up in New York on people smuggling charges and jumped bail to return back to The Bahamas.
I understand that an extradition request has been made for that individual to be sent to the USA to face justice, but the success of that request, like so many others, seems to have been placed on the back burner.
The minister with responsibility for gaming says that he has instructed the Gaming Commission to take as long as necessary in processing the applications so as to get it right.
Under Christie’s leadership, there have always been questions as to a quid pro quo. We had the still unanswered spectacle of the Iranian who claimed to have donated several millions to the election campaign some years ago. Christie promised to make a full disclosure. He never did.
Then we heard that the web industry players funded all political parties, even if Ingraham claimed that the FNM never got any. The PLP has yet to deny that it or its candidates go any.
It was admitted by my good friend and benefactor, Peter Nygard, that he donated several millions to the PLP when it was in opposition. Shortly after it was returned to office, a specialised Stem Cell Act was debated and passed in Parliament. There seems to have been little if any progress on the implementation of the same and Nygard has gone deadly quiet.
The fiasco down at Cable Beach was in the making for decades ever since Phil Ruffin owned and operated The Crystal Palace. By the way, what is the tax status of Ruffin and did his former company ever pay off the millions that were allegedly owed to The Hotel Corporation (at one point headed by Sir Baltron Bethel, who currently is a Senior Advisor to the PM)? Christie, by his own public admission, used to represent Ruffin.
Nothing was said the other day when Christie gave Ruffin a lift in his official car down to Albany, another vehicle in which Ruffin is alleged to have an interest.
Under Christie’s watch there always are so-called scandals and questionable behaviour by members of his administration. The Bahamas has advanced as far as it will ever go under Christie’s tutelage.
The time for him to sit small and retire is now.
The Bahamas is poised for greatness but it will only achieve this under the robust, visionary, calm and sensible leadership of another real leader within the PLP. That leader has been long known to the people of this wonderful nation, but his expected ascendency has been delayed by the reluctance of the current PM to step down.
The Labour Party in the UK was led by Tony Blair for several terms in the House of Commons as government. Blair did a reasonably good job and was well regarded at home and internationally. He was obliged to step down and Gordon Brown, his Chancellor of the Exchequer (Finance Minister) and then Deputy Prime Minister became Prime Minister. Of course, he went on to lose the general elections to the Conservatives led by David Cameron. The rest is history.
Many in the UK have opined that if Tony Blair had demitted office with time to spare that Brown would have had enough time to flesh out his agenda and vision for the UK. They claim that Blair hung on for too long to the post of PM. Will this be the scenario in The Bahamas? What else is there for Christie to seek to accomplish? In fact, apart from the proposed National Health Care Scheme what else is he proposing?
It is time for Christie to go into a well deserved retirement with full pension and perks. Sure, he was able to be elected to the House of Assembly on several consecutive occasions. In fact, he has never been defeated at the polls. If the nation is to advance, however, we need new blood and we need it now.
Loftus A Roker, et al, is busy writing off potential successors to Christie, after calling for Christie himself to resign. Roker says that he is “a friend” to Brave but his actions are classical Machiavellian and possibly those of a political cut throat! With a friend like that, Brave, surely, does not need any enemies.
Some individuals both within and outside the party, would love to see Brave and his entourage mount a coup against Christie right now. That is not feasible and is not in the cards, at this time. Once upon a time, PLPs used to publicly turn on each other but not so today.
We offer Christie a singular opportunity to voluntarily walk the gang plank. Why risk going into a brokered convention and become the first sitting leader of the party to be politically mauled and, of course, badly defeated? To God then, in all things, be the glory!
ORTLAND H BODIE Jr
May 11, 2015.