EDITOR, The Tribune
Canon Sebastian Campbell, who advocated for many years for an indigenous national honours system, stated that he believed the refusal of former Prime Ministers Hubert Ingraham and Perry Christie to accept the new Bahamian honour, Order of the Nation, was an embarrassment to Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis.
Actually, their refusal was an affront to the Bahamian state and to Governor General Dame Marguerite Pindling, the Chancellor of the new Order, as the proposed honours for Mr Ingraham and Mr Christie were to be conferred by that state, with the investiture performed by the head of state.
By rejecting the honours, which were to be bestowed on all prime ministers, Mr Christie and Mr Ingraham dishonoured the country and embarrassed themselves with petty excuses as to why they declined to be honoured by the state and by the Bahamian people.
Both Mr Christie and Mr Ingraham have long known that this new indigenous honour would be awarded to all who serve in the high offices of Governor General and Prime Minister.
They were to be honoured following the privilege of serving as prime minister. By accepting the honours they would have shown respect for the Office of Prime Minister, which is bigger than any of its occupants.
For them to manufacture excuses just as the new national honours are being launched undermines the effort at the moment of inception. That is a great pity.
The honours are not the gift of the Prime Minister. It must be presumed that those who had a hand in shaping the Order of the Nation over many years and making the initial choices have acted in accordance with the will and wishes of the Bahamian people.
In carrying out the investitures the Governor General is merely acting on behalf of the Bahamian people.
Appropriately, all living former Governors General, Dame Ivy Dumont, Sir Orville Turnquest and Sir Arthur Foulkes, whose appointments were recommended by Mr Ingraham, and the Honourable Arthur D Hanna, whose appointment was recommended by Mr Christie, graciously accepted the new national honours.
The former prime ministers were ungracious. Mr Ingraham and Mr Christie appear to have colluded in refusing to accept the indigenous honours. They may have also colluded in trying to embarrass Dr Minnis.
The former prime ministers did not refuse the honours as a matter of principle. After all, both of them accepted – from the Queen, no less – the honour of Privy Councillor with the title Right Honourable for life.
Then they turned around and at the first opportunity refused, at its inception, an indigenous honour the establishment of which both of them supported.
The Bahamian people expected them to demonstrate greater patriotism and sense of nationalism rather than appearing to be driven by private grievances.
Their refusal is their embarrassment alone, and reflects poorly on their churlish judgment in this instance.
The country deserves better from two men who should now be acting as elder statesmen and retired politicians after long political careers and considerable national service.
September 4, 2018.