“Not fit for office.”
That’s the concern being raised amid an apparent crisis of leadership in the Baptist community here in The Bahamas.
“Unprepared”, “unqualified”, “lack of facility with the English language” – these are the allegations being thrown at the president of the Bahamas National Baptist Missionary & Educational Convention, Reverend Lloyd Smith.
The allegations come from Dr Keith Russell as he resigns his post as area vice president for the group’s northern Bahamas district – and he’s just as harsh about his own failings in agreeing to Rev Smith becoming president, saying “I am complicit in helping to elect the most unprepared and unqualified president in the history of Baptist, solely on the basis of money and favour. Moreover, I accepted the token vice presidency of the northern district. All of it makes me despicable and ashamed. May the Lord have mercy on my wretched soul.”
It’s disconcerting stuff – with Dr Russell complaining of integrity being thrown out of the window and a lack of ethics, saying that “any Tom, Dick, Harry or Sue” can buy a doctorate degree and “parades around calling themselves doctors of theology”.
There is some way to go to get to the bottom of concerns in the community – but readers may find that Rev Smith’s name rings a bell.
He has in fact been closely linked with Shane Gibson MP in the past – officiating at the funerals of Hollywood actress Anna Nicole Smith and Mr Gibson’s father, King Eric Gibson. In 2007, Shane Gibson resigned his post as immigration minister amid allegations he fast-tracked Ms Smith’s application for residency in The Bahamas.
More than that, readers may remember stories covered by The Tribune in which concerns were raised about his company, Holiday Industrial Builders International (HIBI).
In 2008, his contract for the construction of the Attorney General’s building was terminated under the Ingraham administration amid claims of cost overruns. Former Prime Minister Ingraham tabled documents claiming defective work, overpayments and more.
Under the Christie administration, then Deputy Prime Minister Philip ‘Brave’ Davis said HIBI had been thoroughly investigated and declared competent by the Ministry of Works, part of Davis’ portfolio. He said the Attorney General’s building contract had been wrongly terminated. Rev Smith was awarded $700,000 after legal arbitration.
HIBI was then awarded a contract to construct a new building for the Ministry of National Security in 2014 – announced by Shane Gibson and sparking an uproar.
That contract too was terminated after the FNM was elected and given to a different company.
And now this is the man whose role is apparently causing more uproar within the Baptist community.
Dr Russell says one of the reasons for initially supporting Rev Smith was because “the convention was in financial trouble and that Rev Smith had the ability to bail us out”.
It would appear that the Bible’s lesson about the love of money being the root of all evil has been forgotten.
We hope the Baptist community will not be blinded by the need for funds – and that it can find peace, and the right leadership, to carry it forward.
Toms, Dicks, Harrys or Sues, it seems, need not apply.
Keep up pressure on crime
Minister of National Security Marvin Dames had good news to share as he addressed Parliament yesterday – a reduction in the number of violent crimes and the number of murders.
Sometimes such good news seems so far away – especially those times when there are spates of murders in a short time – but the progress is there and officers are to be applauded for that.
It is a hard-won success, brought about by concerted effort on the part of the police force, but what it adds up to is saving lives.
There are still too many murders, of course. Even one is too many. But from a time when the figures seemed to be moving ever upwards, things have turned around and are on the right path.
This is no time to let up, however. The pressure must always be kept on to drive the crime figures ever lower – through good policing, high detection rates, and close work with the community. Every member of the community who looks on the police as an ally is someone who will call the police when they see something wrong, who will turn to the authorities to perhaps help stop crime before it starts.
So we say well done to the police – now let’s keep going.