AFTER Dr Minnis opted not to take questions and instead participate in a junkanoo rushout, many were left angered at the audacity to stage a political rally under the guise of a town hall meeting.
Photo: Shawn Hanna/Tribune Staff
By MALCOLM STRACHAN
WHEN the FNM were sworn in to become the next government of The Bahamas on May 11, 2017, many were convinced that we lived to witness, arguably, a retirement party for the country’s worst prime minister. Though it was done by an unlikely hero, it still made the way for Bahamians to be hopeful again. Two and a half years later, while the title of worst prime minister may still be in the grasp of his predecessor, Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis is failing to win many friends in the electorate.
Once a political figure we felt compassion for, today many feel he has become arrogant and tone-deaf to the cries of the people he perpetually tries to identify with – the poor and downtrodden. Dr Minnis often speaks of how his government is focused on improving conditions for Bahamians facing the hardest economic circumstances - yet many would contend far more harm has been done than good.
At last week’s “town hall”, Dr Minnis, donned in red garb, spent much of the evening touting the government’s record and slung mud at Opposition leader Philip “Brave” Davis and the PLP - all in efforts to excite his base. However, the talk of the town afterwards spoke to something that should be much more concerning for the party.
After opting not to take questions and instead participating in a junkanoo rushout, many were left angered at the audacity to stage a political rally under the guise of a town hall meeting. Beyond the denial of the opportunity to engage in dialogue with the prime minister, people also wondered if the taxpayer had paid for an FNM event - although FNM chairman Carl Culmer has since said the event was paid for by the party. Still, many were annoyed that the same prime minister who claimed he “would rather lose an election than a country” would dare talk about re-election when life has largely remained unchanged for many Bahamians under the current regime.
In fact, most people from the lower and middle classes of the country feel that things have become harder under this administration, which leaves us confused by the prime minister’s confidence in his ability to remain this country’s prime minister.
To overestimate the effect of Perry Christie’s shadow still having a negative effect on the PLP by 2022 may be a fatal mistake politically.
While Minnis may tout free tuition at UB and BTVI – laudable achievements for sure – with the economy still in poor shape, where will individuals graduating from these institutions be hired? And as for the nearly $1m the government has funnelled into the Over-the-Hill communities, why are we not hearing more positive stories on the ground? Certainly, this government would leverage such great opportunities for positive press, would it not?
Instead, we have no shortage of businesses in the Over-the-Hill community having little idea of how they are benefiting from a policy the prime minister holds so dear to his heart.
On top of that, the increase of VAT to 12 percent and the imminent BPL bill increase are sure to be ammunition for the PLP to attack the government. Even as murders have decreased, the Bahamian people don’t feel safer based on statistics alone. All that means is that, unlike the last two elections, crime will not be the primary issue – that has been usurped by the economy and escalating cost of living under the Minnis administration. And unfortunately for the FNM, a litany of campaign promises left on the party’s war room floor will no doubt resurface over the next two and a half years.
At some point, we must wonder if the party is going to end up losing confidence in the prime minister. Because, as it stands, Minnis faces a battle to convince the Bahamian people to give him another term. And let us not forget, he survived several challenges to remain the party’s leader.
With two and a half years to go until the next election, the prime minister should perhaps focus a bit more on what’s right in front of him rather than look ahead to distant elections.
The country has no shortage of problems and the prime minister’s priorities seem out of whack when his government is short on gains and full on unkept promises.
As a word of caution to the government - this isn’t your grandparent’s electorate.
Just as fast as we like our information, so too we like our results. We may allow you tarry a little while, but when you completely deviate from what you promised on the campaign trail and speak as if an election victory is owed to you, a rude awakening may be in order.
Potentially, to the prime minister’s detriment, members of his organisation are not blind to this. As the populace’s patience wears thin, we ought not be surprised to see how the tides of power might shift within the FNM.