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The power of now

Published: Sep 13, 2013

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Dear Editor,

The Free National Movement (FNM) is in a good position to exploit the apparent mistakes, gaffes and ineptness of the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP).  But does it realize this?

The PLP, which I support, came into office in style after wiping the political floor clean in its massive defeat of the FNM and its decimation of the embryonic Democratic National Alliance (DNA) in May 2012.  It made promises which most of us knew it could never fulfill.  Yet, we voted for that party to return to office.

Musical chairs, politically, will always play out in The Bahamas due to the culture of dependency and entitlement which, collectively, we have bred and nurtured.  A third party, or independent candidates, will have a hard time garnering sufficient votes or constituencies to form an alternative government.

With this irrefutable scenario in place, Bahamians are consigned, for the foreseeable future, to bad governance and an almost total lack of political accountability.  The power of now is an unknown concept to our political masters (for that is what they have evolved into) who come into office on bogus promises and pie-in-the-sky postulations.

Garbage collection comes readily to mind.  The capital island of New Providence is a mere seven miles by 21 miles.  Yet the powers that be, historically, have been challenged in the sustainable and regular collection and disposal of the same.  Why is this?

The House of Assembly is dominated by lawyers who know absolutely nothing about business or how to run one.  Yes, they may have operated law practices but such practices are able, literally, to run themselves.  A suit and tie along with a competent legal secretary, in most cases, will suffice.

Garbage can be seen all over New Providence.  When one complains, you are threatened with physical harm and political repercussions.

The minister with responsibility is Kenred Dorsett (PLP-Southern Shores).  I am able to access him, but almost to no avail.  He “instructs” his subordinates as to what to do but they, apparently, pay him no attention.

They say that the garbage trucks are broken down and that they are awaiting parts.  These trucks were just bought a few years ago, yet they are not being maintained properly and the morale of the staffers is at the lowest point ever.  Who is in charge?  Why is this an apparently persistent problem?  The power of now needs to come into play.

The environment is not being maintained, and there appears to be no policy in place to deal with it.  Old and derelict motor vehicles are piled up all over the place, inclusive of residential areas.  We should have set up an Environmental Court to deal specifically with landowners and tenants who allow or permit the accumulation of such environmental eyesores.

The minister of foreign affairs and immigration is a clear and present “danger” to the success of the gold rush administration.  Despite this, the PM, who, by his own public admission is tired and needs to go home, continues to maintain a strident silence on his recent inept handling of the snafu over the Cuban detainees.  The power of now needs to come into play.

Three ministers are performing exceptionally well and I make no apologies for complimenting and praising them.  At the top of the list is Minister of Works and Deputy Prime Minister Philip Brave Davis (PLP-Cat Island, Rum Cay and San Salvador).

A close second is Minister of Labour and National Insurance Shane Gibson (PLP-Golden Gates).  In third place, but by no considerable distance, is Minister of Education Jerome Fitzgerald (PLP-Marathon).

These three ministers are youthful, energetic and definitely do not need to go home, at this juncture.  The DPM is the hardest working member of the gold rush.  When he makes an appointment with all and sundry, he keeps it.  His ministry has budgetary challenges, but he makes the best use of the resources available to him.  He does not wear the trappings of power on his shirt sleeves, unlike so many of his colleagues.  Urban Renewal 2.0, under his stellar leadership, is making a difference amongst the people who reside in the inner cities.  The level of petty crimes has dropped as more and more of our criminally prone younger people, especially the males of the species, are gainfully employed and motivated to make a difference in their respective communities.

The roadwork is now being completed, and I am assured that those problematic high sidewalks will be remedied and provisions will be made for proper bus stops.  There is a strong possibility also that there will be a timely reversal of the traffic flow along Market Street and Baillou Hill Road.

Gibson is hard at work seeking comprehensive and viable means of generating employment opportunities within the private sector.  He has held the lid on more employment within the public sector which, in my view, is top heavy, despite the clamoring of his colleagues.

Gibson has also brought much need rationalization to the National Insurance Board (NIB) and brought an “end” to the bloodletting and apparent “all for me baby” style of management at that institution.

With the selection and appointment of the highly regarded and respected Rowena Bethel as director, NIB will now perform the job. It has been mandated in the proper and transparent manner.  I have had the privilege of “knowing” Bethel from the first day she was admitted to The Bahamas Bar.  She is logical, no-nonsense and totally dedicated to public service.

What about the beleaguered minister of education?  Fitzgerald holds a job which few want or are capable of discharging.  His mother, God bless her soul, is a lifelong educator.  His father, Edward, is a former police officer and is currently a business entrepreneur with little equal, if any.

The minister is a seasoned barrister-at-law and a businessman, seeped in managerial and human relations skills.  The Bahamas Union of Teachers has a vital role to play in the education of our students.  Its president, Belinda Wilson, is a long-time friend, and I admire her passion for her members.

On the whole, she is a good wife and mother, to my personal knowledge.  Her mother and father have always been my friends and colleagues.  She is also, I might add, passionate about public service.  In fact, one of the major parties should bring her in from the “cold” for the next electoral cycle.  The PLP, of course, should initiate such a move.

Having said the above, however, I do not believe that now is the time to be demonstrating and removing teachers from the classrooms.  The new school year has just commenced and parents and guardians are still stressed out by the hectic preparations and expenses of beginning the same.  The national grade average is still a depressing D.

I urge my friend, Wilson, to exercise mutual respect and civility in dealing with whatever issues concern her and her members.  Being able to turn out your members may be a “good feeling of power”, but is it in the best interest of the students?

With the ongoing challenges to the economy, which is steadily improving under the “wise” leadership of the Ministers of State for Finance and Investments, Michael Halkitis (PLP-Golden Isles) and Khaalis Rolle (PLP-Pinewood), thousands of parents were forced to enrol their children in the public school system.

These parents and others expect better from the teachers and are, no doubt, regretting the decision to pull their little darlings out of the private school system.  The union had all of the long summer months to negotiate and iron out any differences with the Ministry of Education that it might have.  Now is not the time.  The power of now has its place, but not when it comes down to the seamless education of our students.

The FNM has relegated itself to endless complaining about the activities, or lack thereof, of the PLP.  That party and its leadership cadre have a golden opportunity to step up to the plate and make viable alternatives to the PLP’s policies, or lack thereof.  Complaining has its place but what are their alternatives?

The leader, my good friend and benefactor Dr. Hubert A. Minnis (FNM-Killarney), could become prime minister in 2017, if the Master continues to tarry, but he needs to get rid of some of the lingering Ingrahamites who are advising him while digging a deep ditch for his political demise.

Once upon a time, I was the “chief” of the Ingrahamites.  After I came to my senses, I saw that while Hubert Ingraham is a pure political leader, he is lacking, in my view, in human compassion and empathy.  Minnis is a possible “bridge” to the future, and it is his opportunity to demonstrate leadership.  He must employ the power of now to place his stamp on the leadership of the FNM.

I am a PLP and I support, totally, the eventual ascendency to high office of Davis.  The PLP, however, will be challenged to deliver on its electoral promises and the FNM needs to sharpen its arsenal of political weapons if it is able to do so.

I will never advise that party because it will not listen to me anyhow.  I will say, however, with certainty that Ingraham will be back in the House by March 6, 2014.  All hell will then break loose within the FNM, as Minnis will have to go up against his “buddy” for ascendency within that shell-shocked party.

The power of now is crucial as we go forward as a nation.  We, who are able, will have to fish, cut bait or get the hell out of the boat.  There is now no more time to waste on foolish political talk and posturing.  The key players and advisors are in place.  The Grand Master and Architect of the universe has written the script and as they used to say, “Let the show begin.”

To God then, in all things, be the glory.

— Ortland H. Bodie Jr.


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