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The new Bahamas: Meritocracy

DR. HUBERT MINNIS

Published: Oct 15, 2013

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A visionary leader and statesman must always be willing to address the challenges of our nation.  In the new Bahamas, I believe that we have to engender a culture of reward based on honest work and earning what one achieves.

During my travels to constituencies throughout the nation, I always welcome the chance to speak to this new generation of voters.  One recurring theme that always enters the conversation is achievement based on merit.

It is clear that the status quo of rising through the ranks of society based on political affiliation, who you know or gender bias, is unacceptable.  It is extremely unfortunate that, historically, we have not protested loudly enough on the issue of political victimization; we have not fully embraced achieving and succeeding in our country based on what a person earns and works for; we have not held those in governance to a high standard of leadership that demands the same.  These outdated ways of thinking limit our country into dwelling in a non-progressive state, which no longer serves us in the new Bahamas.

I’m sincere in my commitment to change this paralysis in the new Bahamas.  Tiresome modes of thinking must be rendered obsolete.  Bahamian youth have consistently demonstrated that they are no longer content with the status quo which further amplifies the gap of potential versus reality; the status quo which seeks to benefit those with familial and political connections first; the modus operandi that seems to agree that merit has little place in the rewards system.  Day after day, I hear our 16-30 year olds crying out for a society which benefits those who have earned what they achieved.  A system of merit – minus that trickery – is something that the next generation demands more from its leaders.  Equity in all facets of society is the constant call, which we hear from our youth.

While we stand tall and proud of the legacy in the early days of nationhood when we marched, toiled and fought for an equal footing for all citizens, we must be ever mindful that our young adults are striving for so much more.  The New Bahamas requires leadership willing to step up to the challenges with effective policies bolstered by decisive action.  Today’s Bahamian youth will not tolerate discrimination and victimization.  The Bahamas must become a meritocracy where your skills, talents, abilities and drive put you in the driver’s seat.

Bahamian youth are an essential element in moving away from the practices of old.  It is my fervent desire to empower the youth to be a key part of bringing about the changes necessary to realize this vision of this new meritocracy called “New Generation Bahamas”.

I affirm my promise to reach out to our youth and listen to what they are anxious to achieve.  We can no longer afford to squander our nation’s patrimony by seeking to pick and choose the voices we wish to hear on the national stage.  Everybody must do their part and significantly contribute to the mammoth task of building the new Bahamas.  The FNM is prepared to sit down in a series of “chat sessions” geared specifically to today’s 10th and 11th graders who, in a few short years, as new voters, will have the fate of the nation in their hands.

Our youth demand a country which functions as a meritocracy.  When we were on the cusp of independence, many of the youth of the time echoed the very same chant.  Sadly, during the genesis of this great nation, we veered off course and our founding fathers sadly erected a system entrenched with a primary flaw – rewarding the spoils of the nation to those who faithfully and sycophantically follow party lines.  I feel that this myopic, stunted and narrow vision of nationhood has got to end.

We are a mere three and a half years away from when that all-important demographic – young men and women aged 16-30 – will determine who will lead the charge for change.  I am a leader who thinks of the next generation.  I am a firm believer that the time has come to involve more young people in the national development conversation.  Too often, to our detriment, many long-standing political and community leaders have dismissed too many of the nation’s youth as out of touch and ill equipped to step into the spotlight to offer commentary on the future of The Bahamas.  Additionally, we have done ourselves a disservice by this flippant dismissal.

I aspire to lead the new Bahamas.  I am committed to the meritocracy.  I invite you to embrace the change.

• Dr. Hubert Minnis is the leader of the Free National Movement and the official opposition.


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