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Life for Centreville voters after Perry Christie

Published: Oct 01, 2013

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Dear Editor,

I would like to extend a belated happy birthday to Prime Minister Perry G. Christie.  God has graciously granted to him the biblically allotted three score years and 10.  May God add many more years to his life.

The Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) announced in the press several weeks ago that it has decided to postpone its convention to next year.  This undoubtedly is disappointing news to the aspiring, ambitious young Turks in that party who were hoping to climb the political ladder and position themselves as the next generation of leaders.

For at least another year, many elements of the old guard remain fully entrenched in the PLP.  While many political analysts have speculated on who will succeed Christie as leader of the PLP, few if any have attempted to discuss Christie’s representation of the constituency of Centreville and what life would be like for that community after he leaves active politics.

It is generally assumed that this is Christie’s final term in the House of Assembly.  He has been the member of Parliament for Centreville for 36 years.  Despite holding powerful positions in the Pindling administration and in the PLP, even to the extent of becoming that party’s leader in 1997 upon the retirement of Sir Lynden Pindling, and despite becoming prime minister in 2002 and again in 2012, the good people of Centreville have received at best a mediocre or subpar representation from their member of Parliament.

Accordingly, no one can say in Christie’s defense with a straight face that he was an insignificant backbencher in Parliament who was unable to get anything meaningful accomplished or that he was unable to get an audience with either Sir Lynden or Hubert Ingraham when the latter two were leading The Bahamas.  Centreville remains one of the most economically challenged communities in New Providence and indeed the entire Bahamas.  It is littered with shantytown dwellings with no indoor plumbing and the area is garbage strewn.

The basis of that last assertion was an opinion piece which was printed in a popular bi-weekly down-market tabloid some weeks ago.  According to the opinion piece, a group of PLPs from Centreville were yapping about the dirty surroundings of their impoverished community.  They want their member of Parliament to urgently address the matter.  At the time of the writing of this letter, I am not in the position to verify whether or not their concerns were addressed.  All the same, based on the claim of the aforementioned opinion piece, why did the people allow their community to get so run-down anyway?  When Christie first became that constituency’s MP in 1977, he met it as a ghetto.

And for all intents and purposes, if he retires in 2017, he will leave it as a ghetto.  In this regard, there are two fundamental questions I would like to pose to the Centreville voters who reportedly threw a hissy fit at their MP over their dirty surroundings.  Firstly, if Christie has been an unproductive MP for 36 years why would he change now, especially at the tail end of his career?  There’s a condescending axiom in The Bahamas which says that when you find a mule use it. Whatever that saying means, some politicians have found theirs and have used them prodigiously.  And secondly, if Centreville voters have an issue with Christie, why then did they elected him eight times as their MP?

Albert Einstein once said that insanity is doing the same thing over and repeatedly and expecting different results.  Christie is in a win-win situation.  He can continue doing what he has done for 36 years and not worry about any potential political fall-out from Centreville voters in 2017.  With all due respect, Centreville voters remind me of what psychiatrists have called the battered wife syndrome or ICD-9 code. They appear to be addicted to bad treatment and have an aversion to good representation.  Whatever representation Christie has given to Centreville residents, they deserve it.  In the event Christie keeps his word and retires, Centreville voters should demand that the PLP National General Council not shove down their collective throats a candidate who will treat them the same way their current MP has in the past three decades.

In fact, they should demand that the National General Council ratify a resident from their community.  Such an individual will have a distinct advantage as an MP because he lives in that area and would obviously be personally acquainted with the challenges that the residents face.  History has taught us that electing a person from Westridge Estates or Lyford Cay or Cable Beach will not cut the mustard for the grassroots in the Over-the-Hill communities of Nassau and in particular Centreville.  There is a saying that is commonly and perhaps wrongly attributed to the 18th century queen of France, Marie Antoinette, that says that when she was told that her subjects had no food, she said let them eat cake.  At times one is led to believe that some of our politicians have the same attitude towards their poor consistents.

Oftentimes, politicians who live in the gated communities are woefully unable to relate with the masses who live in squalor.  Centreville has a grand opportunity for a representation upgrade in the post-Christie era.  The ball is in their court, I think; they mustn’t drop the ball.  They should state emphatically to the PLP that they will not put up with the kind of representation which they have endured for over 30 years.

– Kevin Evans

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