By INIGO 'NAUGHTY' ZENICAZELAYA
THIS week, in the wake of the utter devastation left behind by Hurricane Dorian, two former prime ministers stepped to the microphone, and a bromance bloomed.
No Man is an Island
Hurricane Dorian was a catastrophic event the likes of which Bahamians have never seen. Right now, as the country struggles to comprehend the extent of the blow we have taken in terms of loss of human life and treasure, two old, familiar faces in former prime ministers Perry Christie and Hubert Ingraham have reappeared on the scene.
Picture this: Ingraham and Christie sitting at a table together, jovial, friendly, circumspect, and pleading to be of use to the country.
It was a surreal scene, I’ll admit, because you would never imagine these two men, who have been mainstays of politics in this country for over decades, ever having to call a press conference to reiterate that they are prepared to do whatever is needed to help our country in its hour of need.
Accepting their help, and giving them both a “seat at the table” seems like a precarious position for our current prime minister, Dr Hubert Minnis, who has been juggling a million irons in the fire left behind by Hurricane Dorian.
Based on the fact that former PM Christie has said he reached out to Minnis only to be hit with the ‘I’ll get back to you,’ while former PM Ingraham said he doubts Minnis will welcome his advice, I have to say I’m surprised.
As unique as Hurricane Dorian was, so is the opportunity now before Doc to bring us through this storm in the best possible position to rebuild.
Maybe Doc doesn’t trust that the former prime ministers will not use their participation in the relief efforts to their political advantage. That’s fair. I wouldn’t trust two of the most successful political animals outside of Sir Lynden O Pindling this country has ever seen either.
That doesn’t make Minnis insecure, it makes him just as savvy as they are.
What is not smart, though, is continuing to sideline Christie and Ingraham when they are offering to help out.
If Minnis (who is no doubt under a lot of duress) is a clever, political animal too, he will recognise what so many Bahamians already do; neither Christie nor Ingraham will ever be prime minister again.
What they will always be, however, are men who have a lot of political capital in this country.
They will always have rock solid connections.
They will always have diehard supporters. They will always have institutional knowledge of the inner workings of government.
They will always have the ears of world leaders with whom they have cultivated relationships over the decades.
And they will always have the gravitas that comes with being a former prime minister.
You know what we could use a little of right now?
Everything that Ingraham and Christie, in their current incarnation, can bring to that imaginary table where they don’t have seats.
We need all hands on deck when it comes to getting us through the national nightmare that Hurricane Dorian has brought.
Based on their press conference the other night, the two former law partners are stepping into the limelight whether Minnis likes it or not.
Is it not better to have them working with the government than criticising it?
I mean, former PM Ingraham has already done Minnis a huge favour by bluntly stating what we already know - the true Hurricane Dorian death toll is likely in the hundreds (if not thousands).
This is the “say what I mean, and mean what I say” Ingraham Bahamians love.
And former PM Christie, for all his shortcomings, is a master at enunciating difficult positions, and spinning The Bahamas’ tribulations in the best possible light.
The criticism of the government’s handling of the wreckage left by Dorian are coming from our international ‘friends” whether we like it or not.
To much of the world, Bahamians have been designated “refugees,” something I never thought I’d see in my lifetime. We’re relying on a host of countries to help us out. We have foreign soldiers on active duty on our shores.
We need more money.
We need more good press.
We need the tourists to keep coming.
We need, we need, we need.
Figuring out the best way forward is a lot for one man, in the form of PM Minnis, to carry on his shoulders.
To be fair, I think he’s done better than can be expected.
But take my advice and take the help, Doc.
We have two statesmen-in-waiting willing to do some heavy lifting so go ahead and put some boulders on their backs.
If it makes you feel better, keep one eye on your predecessors, and I’ll be sure to keep one eye on them for you.
Between Queen, Country and Trump
Watching the “man crush” between Prime Minister Minnis and US president Donald Trump has been quite something.
I always knew the two would get along well.
Trump is a conservative, Doc is a conservative.
Trump hates the press, Doc hates the press.
Trump is a multi-billionaire who many people thought would never win an election, and Minnis is a millionaire who many thought would never win.
So it was no surprise to listen to Minnis, in his latest national address, wax poetic about Donald Trump in light of the fact that the American president has, so far, provided priceless assistance to our country in Dorian’s aftermath.
I wondered if their relationship would hit a snag when the US president declared,“I don’t want to allow people that weren’t supposed to be in the Bahamas to come into the United States, including some very bad people and some very bad gang members and some very, very bad drug dealers.”
But nope. Doc kept it moving with the #TrumpLove like Trump never even made that bizarre statement.
Donald Trump likes Minnis for liking Trump
Go check Trump’s Twitter feed, if you don’t believe me.
The bromance is strong with these two.
The reality, though, is that the United States government has not granted Bahamians fleeing to Florida (not to be confused with Miami) to seek refuge temporary protected status (TPS).
This is a tricky situation, made worse by that episode of those fleeing our country who have, embarrassingly and sadly, been made to disembark a popular boat because they didn’t have the right paperwork.
Our plight has become a political tool in the United States, and this may not be to our advantage.
We’ve had our own “special relationship” with the US that is being viewed through a different lens now. We have had privileges with easy travel to the US that is under threat now.
It’s a good time for Doc to pick up the phone and call the US president, then speak plainly to the Bahamian people, so we remain on the same page.
On another note, many Caribbean countries, the United Nations, Commonwealth Countries, Barbados, Jamaica, as well as Dutch, French and German soldiers, Norway (I’m watching you, Equinor), Japan, China and of course the US have stepped up to the plate to help.
The United Kingdom, mired in their own political turmoil, has also sent in their Royal Navy to lend big time assistance working along with our own Police and Defence Forces.
On a side note, please cease the unnecessary criticisms of the Police Force and Defence Force, who are doing as best a job as can be expected. I mean, how can y’all be mad they don’t have helicopters when you all know darn well we don’t have no helicopter money?
But I digress.
The Queen of the Bahamas, her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, also sent out a nice tweet from herself and Duke Philip with thoughts and prayers.
With climate change and more monstrous hurricanes on the horizon, it may be a good idea for Doc or our new Governor General C A Smith, to give Mr Trump’s other good friend, her Majesty, a call just in case we need that lil backup ting in the future.