Thursday, Jul 18, 2019
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What the FNM must do to be re-elected

Dear Editor,

Some mischievous Bahamians have opined that Ortland H. Bodie Jr. may be or is, in fact, a closet supporter of the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP).  Make no mistake about this bogus opinion.  I am not a current member or supporter of that party.  There was a time, in the distant past, when others accused me of being a closet or even overt supporter of the Free National Movement (FNM).  Fortunately, to date, my detractors have not sought to throw the Democratic National Alliance (DNA) mantle over my shoulders.

These elections will be the FNM’s to lose.  That is not to suggest, however, that it’s reelection, if that comes about, would be a cakewalk.  As it stands today, the FNM is intensely disliked by large numbers of ordinary Bahamians for any number of reasons.

The terrible state of the roadwork here in New Providence has made life a living hell for motorists, pedestrians and business owners.  In the face of this stark fact, the clueless minister of works and his equally clueless permanent secretary have displayed so much insensitivity that the blind person would cringe.  Hundreds of Bahamians have been laid off and bank loans are in arrears.

The educational plants (schools) are in a terrible state of disrepair.  Old schools are still being used and not a single new school has been constructed by the hapless FNM in this term in office.  The school on Horse Shoe Drive was started and almost completed under the Christie administration.

The former minister of education, the Hon. Carl Wilshire Bethel, was, in my opinion, one of the worst education ministers in recent times.  Our students continue to be relegated to the back of the bus and the beat goes on.  Fortunately, Bethel was ‘removed’ from that post and another person replaced him.  Unfortunately, very little, if anything has changed.  We have witnessed more talk but the same problems persist.

Taxes have been heaped up on the bended backs of Bahamians ad nauseum.  Unemployment has never been so high since we’ve started compiling statistics.  Thousands of Bahamians who are either unskilled or untrainable are walking our streets, especially here in New Providence, literally begging for a few dollars just to eat.  Who cares?

Children are ‘graduating’ from our high schools and face at the least a year or more of seeking and obtaining a sustainable job.  University graduates are obliged to remain abroad if they wish to work.  The ‘brain drain’ is actually ‘killing’ our national growth potential and the productivity of our country.

The FNM’s approach to crime solutions is like a rabid dog barking at the moon or chasing his rancid tail.  We were told during the 2007 electoral comedy of errors, smoke screens and mirrors that if the FNM were to be elected that crime and the fear of crime would be reduced to a minimum.  Well, the exact opposite has been achieved.  Yet, the FNM crows about its ‘successes’ in this area!

Housing starts have come, or appear to have come, to an inglorious and abrupt halt.  The current minister and his sidekick are lost, in my view, in the land of Nod.  Shelter is vital to the dignity of human existence.  It must, however, be affordable and it must be habitable.  Low cost housing is now a colossal joke, as the smallest of government subsidized homes now cost in excess of $100,000 and suffer from structural defects.

Despite campaign promises the FNM has studiously failed to present a national development plan for the country.  Public policy decisions are apparently being made by the seat of the pants of the prime minister and the gown tails of the rest of his cabinet ministers.  Big talk and grandiose pomp but, when you look at it, precious little real and sensible action.

The PLP, however, is not and has not been a very effective opposition.  Nor has it, as of now, articulated what its exact plans are to revive the sick and dying patient called The Bahamas.  Yes, it is quick to point out the overt ‘faults’ of the FNM and the bungles of Ingraham (and they have been innumerable) but it has consistently failed to lay out alternatives.

Unless and until the PLP and its leadership cadre step up to the plate, they too will be barking at the full moon.  With such a ‘weak’ and uninspired opposition, the FNM could well be re-elected in a tight race by default.  Wishing to win, however, will not cut it.

The FNM must immediately jettison three of its frontline inept cabinet ministers starting with the Member for Lucaya and its current outgoing national chairman.  It must, by whatever means necessary, bring about a drastic reduction in our Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) billings.  The FNM must jump start the economy by eliminating 50 percent or more of the onerous taxation which stands as an obstacle to business starts.

It must immediately grant road building contracts to recognized Bahamian road builders.  The South Street court house and adequate well-lit public parking must be opened and put in place.  A published list of the declarations of ALL members of the House of Assembly and the Senate should be immediately gazetted.

The FNM must also find or borrow the money to pay off all monies due to members of the civil service and put in place a revised set of modern rules to govern the conduct of the service.  Those members of the civil service, especially within the Road Traffic Department, customs and immigration who are ‘proven’ to be corrupt must be publicly weeded out.   The laws of the country must be seen to be applied across the board in The Bahamas.

Lastly, it is patently clear, at least to me, that the current PM, is tired and possibly out of touch with reality on the ground.  His shelf life cannot, respectfully, exceed another two or three years.  He and the FNM must now step up to the plate and designate a clear succession path for leader of that party.  The only viable and sensible choice is the Minister of National Security.

Yes, some say that Tommy Turnquest (FNM-Mt. Moriah) lacks the personal charisma to be a national leader.  Others may suggest that he does not have the gravitas to be so elevated.  Yet others will opine that a lawyer should be leader.  My humble response to all of the foregoing is simple: hog wash.

Turnquest is the only sitting member of Parliament, other than Ingraham, who would have led the FNM before.  He did it then and, sure as hell, he can do it again.  I suggest a Turnquest and Hubert Minnis team to take over the FNM upon Ingraham’s inevitable and fast approaching trek to the sunset.  This combination is the last best hope for the FNM.

To God then, in all things, especially succession, politically, be the glory.

 

– Ortland H. Bodie Jr.

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