EDITOR, The Tribune.
A large number of Bahamians, inclusive of FNMs and PLPs supported and voted for the Free National Movement and it’s entire slate of candidates during the last general election. The former Prime Minister Perry Christie had become the most hated man in the nation, politically speaking. He had long ‘lost’ his way and was, at the latter part of his final term (thank God) merely posturing and exercising ‘cruise control’. Indeed, he was no longer checking for anything or, apparently, anyone.
His apparent disconnect and insensitivity were great turn offs and played no small role in his ignoble rejection at the polls. Christie’s public pronouncements were markedly ‘different’ from what he actually did or did not do on the ground. He went over to the Cayman Islands and talked about accountability and transparency. He also, surprisingly, briefly touched on corruption and the measures he was implementing to minimise the same in The Bahamas.
Events since the general elections have revealed evidence of gross corruption and malfeasance. The former PM had to have been fast asleep at the proverbial wheel while the vast majority of his cabinet acted and behaved as if they were ‘lords of all that they surveyed’. In Opposition, Christie said one thing. In office he said and did whatever popped into his head at any given time without, apparently, considering the fall out from a public policy initiative.
It is now becoming apparent the current Prime Minister has now evolved into a Christie Lite clone. The FNM is shrouded in secrecy and there is no discernible accountability. Minnis is now known to be a terrible public speaker who, if he does not stick to the script handed to him by his omnipresent handlers, he is prone to go off on tangents unknown. In Opposition Minnis talked about no parliamentary pay increases ‘under my watch’; he vowed to bring The Freedom of Information Act into play. He went further and vowed to to release the sealed documents into the public domain relative to Baha Mar. Six months later nothing much has changed.
The people of this wonderful nation massively rejected and voted down all of the proposed constitutional amendment bills, including the one which would have allowed a married Bahamian woman to confer her Bahamian nationality on her child/children born any where outside of our jurisdiction, even if the putative father holds a different nationality. This was done by a binding constitutional referendum - the highest source of legislation in the land.
At that time, Minnis, despite having voted in favour of the four bills in the House of Assembly ‘advised’ Bahamians to ‘vote their conscience’ which was his code for ‘rejection’ but he lacked the coconuts to declare his ‘real’ stance. The rest is history. Now, six months into his term, Minnis and crew are proposing to grant - via an amendment to The Immigration Act (which is subservient to the Independence Order, 1973) - citizenship at birth to a child/children born to a Bahamian mother, married or not, anywhere in the world. Citizenship!
This, of course, would be ultra vires the Constitution and will attract all sorts of challenges. Minnis is seeking to govern and promulgate public policy initiatives by delegated legislation. Minnis’ team of legal advisors, led by Senator Carl W Bethell are on a dangerous run and one which will cause them to be rejected at the polls. To add insult to injury, they are not saying if the proposed amendment will be retroactive. This is a back door political manipulation which is doomed to fail.
In opposition, Minnis said no pay increases. Upon coming to office, the FNM slashed and eliminated scores of jobs held by Bahamians. The ministers say they are getting rid of the slack and unnecessary people employed by the defunct Christie administration months before the elections or who would have retired and would have been brought back with big salaries and pensions. I have no problem with this. I do have a problem, however, with Minnis now saying he and the FNMs in parliament, along with the PLP, I presume, will be getting a raise come next year!
Thousands of Bahamians, especially in Grand Bahama and New Providence are catching literal hell on earth, right now, but Minnis and his motley crew say ‘we need more money’. Public service the last time I checked was just that: ‘public service’. Most of the current MPs clamoured to get elected because they said they wanted to ‘serve’ the people. Now Minnis, a declared multi millionaire, says they need ‘more money’.
The FNM also said, in opposition, that VAT would be removed on specified ‘breadbasket’ items. That has yet to happen. Minnis has now ‘threatened’ illegals will be arrested and deported come December 31. Was he declaring, ignorantly, an amnesty, without parliamentary approval or was he, again without legal justification, ‘suspending’ the law of the land? Ingraham did it years ago, when he, unilaterally, ordered the ‘release’ of almost 100 Haitian detainees at the Detention Centre in 2010. We have not seen or heard from them since.
Within days after that ‘threat’ Minnis and Minister Campbell had to rush down to a major Haitian church here in New Providence to ‘assure’ our brothers and sisters he was not talking about them, specifically, and that their regularisation was log overdue! Yet, within another few days, massive immigration stop-and-search were being conducted all over New Providence early in the mornings and in the dead of night.
Minnis, clearly, is out of his depth and has absolutely no empathy for ‘real’ Bahamians. He and that MP for West End & Bimini were seen crying for the ravages inflicted on Dominica but they, collectively, have yet to shed a single tear for a single Bahamian. Our Defence Force vessel has now arrived down there with much needed supplies but, three years after great devastation in our own nation, thousands of Bahamians are still waiting for NEMA to come through. The FNM fooled us big time but, it ain’t as long as it used to be. Minnis and the FNM are melting down, right before our very eyes. They came into office with no workable agenda. They have now demonstrated they are aligned with the special interest and monied foreign elements.
Despite the abject and fake posturing, I have no doubt Sarkis will reclaim Baha Mar early in 2018. He is that ‘real’ buyer, I suggest, alluded to by the then Leader of the Opposition, Dr Minnis. We, fellow Bahamians, inclusive of myself, got swung.
ORTLAND H BODIE, Jr
November 5, 2017.