Marvin Dames, Minister of National Security.
By LEANDRA ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
NATIONAL Security Minister Marvin Dames yesterday defended his character amid controversy surrounding the government’s handling of missing Hurricane Dorian victims, insisting that whenever he sees wrong “whether inside or outside Cabinet”, he will “express” himself.
Giving an impassioned contribution in the House of Assembly yesterday, Mr Dames rebuked critics over the matter, insisting he will never support any wrongdoing as it is his duty to protect the Bahamian people. His comments came after former Health Minister Dr Duane Sands blasted the Minnis administration’s handling of missing Dorian victims, noting that an explanation was needed for how hundreds of names were culled from official lists.
Although Mr Dames did not directly address Dr Sands in his speech yesterday, he made a veiled reference to the former Cabinet minister.
He said: “I hold no grudge against anyone, no indifference against anyone. I take my job very seriously because at the end of the day, I have to account to the people who elected me to serve as their member of Parliament and account to the party who entrusted in me their confidence and account to my leader for having selected me to serve as the minister within this Cabinet.
“You see because we can come into this place as is and that’s what been going on for decades and we can make up but at the end of the day, the Bahamian people know best.”
He continued: “This generation can see beyond the fluff and the nonsense and the waste of time, they can see beyond that and each and every one of us will be measured. Don’t come here and say what you could’ve done or what should’ve been done. The question is when you had an opportunity to effect change, did you do it?”
Speaking in the House of Assembly last week, Dr Sands criticised the government’s handling of Dorian missing victims, saying too many government agencies were involved in dealing with the process, creating a “recipe for disaster”.
His comments came weeks after ACP Solomon Cash told reporters 33 people were still missing from the Category Five Storm. However, after the former health minister resurfaced the issue last week, Mr Dames revealed that 279 people were listed as missing after Hurricane Dorian.
On Tuesday, Mr Dames told reporters he cannot say why the number of people he identified on Sunday as missing after Hurricane Dorian differed from the figure ACP Cash gave.
“The numbers that were given are not Marvin Dames’ numbers,” he said outside Cabinet on Tuesday. “They are the numbers compiled and taken from the centralised listing…All of these numbers are now in the hands of the police. Let’s not get fixated on this and I think sometimes we get caught in a position where we say ‘oh something is amiss, what is amiss?’”
Saying he takes his job “very seriously”, the Mount Moriah MP insisted yesterday that his duty is to serve the Bahamian people.
In view of this, Mr Dames said if he felt the Minnis administration was heading in a direction that went against his beliefs, he would resign.
He said earlier in his speech: “I also said to the leader that I am who I am and anytime I feel that the Cabinet is taking a course or direction that goes completely against who I am and how I was brought up, he need not worry, I will tender my resignation and go in another direction.
“You see, Mr Speaker, I hold no one’s bag. I carry no one’s bag. The person you see out here today is the person you see in Cabinet or anywhere else, you see. That’s who I am. That’s how I was brought up and I will never change for anyone.
“My obligation as the Minister of National Security and the Member of Parliament for the great constituency of Mount Moriah is to the people of this country, not to any one individual. Not to any one individual and whenever I see wrong whether it’s in Cabinet or outside Cabinet, I’m going to express myself – the only way I know how to.”