IN his first press conference for the new year, Opposition Leader Philip “Brave” Davis, gave tongue-in-cheek congratulations to a competent young Bahamian woman journalist who the Minnis government had just named as its Director of Communications.
Although Mr Davis wished her good luck, he predicted that her presence would not boost the popularity of the Minnis government.
Erica Wells Cox, who has had 23 years of experience in journalism, has been appointed to explain the plans and achievements – and even the failures – of the Minnis government. It is up to that government to attempt to match their election promises with the people’s dreams. Ms Wells’ job is to be the communications vehicle to keep the dialogue open between the two, and to help Bahamians understand what their government is trying to achieve. If the people don’t approve of what they hear, then it will be their turn to speak up. In other words she is to keep the dialogue open, using plain, simple English to explain the facts, and the reasoning behind the political decisions.
In his press conference, Mr Davis insulted his listeners. He forgot –as most politicians do —that you can “fool all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time.”
“Bahamians,” he said, “are once again faced with having to pay for another public relations salary out of the Public Treasury.“
“When I talk about yet another public relations salary out of the Public Treasury, I ought to note that we have always had a director of Bahamas Information Services and then we have appointed after the elections a press secretary and now have a director of communications. It seems we have two persons and another whole department under the guidance and control of the director of BIS doing the same job, all at the expense of us, the Bahamian people.”
Yes, Mr Davis, and where were you when your party was spending millions of dollars– something in the region of a $4 million taxpayer-funded budget in one instance to promote your party’s “Stronger Bahamas” campaign. It was a foreign controlled campaign with many Americans on the payroll, but not a single Bahamian in sight. Where was your voice then, Mr Davis? It is certainly very loud now when a Bahamian — and a capable one at that — is involved.
In 2015 Mrs Loretta Butler Turner, then FNM MP for Long Island, made her voice heard: “The use of a foreign firm in such an effort in no way helps to make the Bahamas stronger. Instead it sends money overseas that should have remained in the Bahamas, putting Bahamians first, circulating money in our local economy. This,” she concluded, “is yet another shameful abuse of the public purse by the PLP.”
And remember the US media company Black, Manafort, Stone and Kelly? They were engaged by the Pindling government to help it win another Bahamian election. Manafort now sits in a US jail waiting to be called by US Special Counsel Robert Mueller to testify in the investigation into the role that Russia might have played in the recent US election. No one heard a Bahamian voice protesting the millions of Bahamian taxpayers’ dollars going overseas to pay for this American company to spread election propaganda in our country.
Then there were the millions spent on the Greensberg campaign, which critiqued for the PLP the reasons for the loss of the 2007 election. After the 2017 loss the Greensberg firm was back to point out that many similarities of the mistakes the PLP had made in the 2007 election were repeated in the 2017 election. In this election the PLP was wiped out, leaving only four PLP members in the House— Mr Davis being one of them to represent the Opposition. Again millions of taxpayer’s dollars were spent by Mr Davis’ party only to be told by Greensberg after the 2017 election catastrophe that “there is a perception among voters that the PLP has become more focused on doing things that benefit its own politicians than for the people.” We hope that the FNM will take note of this observation, because we have seen it raising its ugly head in certain areas of their government. At all times it must be remembered that the interest of the Bahamian constituent, regardless of party affiliation, comes before the interest of politicians. But for these two elections when millions of taxpayers dollars were being spent with foreigners, where was Mr Davis’ objecting voice?
Mr Davis also attacked ZNS for not broadcasting a substantial portion of an interview he gave the network last month. He claimed senior ZNS officials directed subordinates “not to air opposition stories unless the government has responded.”
If he wants to know how his own party shut the FNM out of ZNS studios while it was the government he only has to ask PLP Senator Fred Mitchell, who was not always Sir Lynden’s “blue-eyed boy”. However, when he was in Pindling’s good books he was in full control of ZNS and from 1977-79 he had authority to use a “hatchet” — and use a “hatchet” he did. Mr Mitchell has quite a story to tell, particularly when he and Pindling fell out and the “hatchet” was used against him.
Neither party was right, but we would remind Mr Davis that what is “good for the goose, is also good for the gander.”
If the FNM plans to succeed it has to rise above such pettiness and remember that we are all created equal with the right to equal opportunities, according to our individual abilities.
Erica Wells Cox is a good appointment and — having had her initial training at The Tribune — we can say with confidence that she fully understands what fairness means. If given a chance she will do well.