Tuesday, Jun 2, 2020
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Former MP need not return

Dear Editor,

This letter is in response to an article published June 3, 2019, titled “Wilchcombe wants GB seat in next election”.

The past generation (40 years) has seen human beings in the free world race toward a brighter, more productive future. Progressive ideas of growth, technological advancements in all fields, new developments daily in science and medicine, all continue to give way to tides of change. Notable global pivoting, redirection, restructuring and even conversations about retribution have come to head in an effort to empower all citizens of Earth.

Thirty years (three decades) of that 40-year span of global leaps and bounds as the world embraced change and charted an unapologetic path toward a brighter day, West Grand Bahama stood still; stagnant.

How has this come to be?

The once bustling community of West Grand Bahama died a slow and painful death after the Jack Tar hotel left in 1987, hopeless. In the spirit of “cultural normalcy”, representative after representative sought to merely maintain infrastructure, smiles and contentment. Half the time of this bitter social devour (15 years), Obie Wilchcombe, former member of Parliament, reigned victorious over this stagnation, consistently securing more than 50 percent of the constituency voting bloc.

Now, how has this come to be? Aside from our current representative’s recent victory, no other candidate was given a second look if the people of West End and Bimini were not satisfied:

• Moses Hall – 1977-1987 (two terms);

• David Wallace – MP, 1992 (one term); 2002, lost by 405 votes; 2007, lost by 298 votes;

• Pakeisha Parker-Edgecombe – 2012, was washed out in the rip tides and defeated by 644 votes.

Despite many victories at the polls, hardcore, irrefutable facts show that the former member of Parliament has failed the people of West End and Bimini more substantively than any of his predecessors:

• Ginn Sur Mer – unearthed the West and left;

• Bimini – marine life lost to excessive dredging;

• Highest unemployment among young people;

• No social/recreational developments;

• No focus on development;

• No entrepreneurial enlightenment/aid;

• No avenues of empowerment.

Our once lively community has suffered tremendously, steadily declining. In a great way, we regressed under the self-absorbed, self-indulgent leadership of the former parliamentarian, Obadiah Hercules Wilchcombe.

More often than not, susceptible politicians’ hearts and heads are detached as they approach the political alter. Perception smothers convictions and focus shifts to feed that ever-growing “green monster” called ego.

The former MP for West Grand Bahama and Bimini’s middle name is befitting in this matter, as he has morphed into the “Hulk”, destroying all that he touches. All in an effort to reach the pinnacle of some self-imposed aspiration. I’m inclined to say that he has forgotten the core purpose for his nomination, by a party that perpetually boasts of its love for country.

Every relationship that the “distinguished gentleman” and politician forged over the past two decades has been due to the access afforded to him by the people of West Grand Bahama and Bimini. Every introductory handshake with his name at the forefront followed by his title “member of Parliament for West Grand Bahama and Bimini” (us, the enablers) gave him a seat at the table. This should have translated to “us”, West Grand Bahamians and Biminites, our interests being addressed at said table. But it was not so.

The former minister has travelled the world and the seven seas, globetrotter, time and again, on a ticket purchased for him by the people of West Grand Bahama and Bimini. I’m convinced that he has forged relationships on nearly every continent on this planet – all this and he hasn’t thought once to bring his people one single souvenir back, no memorabilia to say he cares:

• No souvenir from Singapore to show how they’ve advanced in diversification and development;

• No South African insight on export, trade and the like;

• No European ideas for healthcare and social service reform;

• No East Asian ideas on renewable energy, tech and green developments;

• No Canadian ideas on employment, inclusion and diversification;

• No North American ideas on border patrol… (wait, never mind);

• Definitely, no Cuban intel on how to get the cruise ships going our way.

West Grand Bahama and Bimini have gotten absolutely nothing from a man who radiates such an international aura. He exudes such a global glow:

• A man whose name is known up and down the Eastern Seaboard of the United States of America;

• A man who can pick up the telephone, make a call and have 15 trailers sitting in West End at any time;

• A man who can have the Cabinet of The Bahamas and an entourage of 200 men, women and children on a post-disaster site inspection/FAM trip of West End;

• A man who can make a call to Pat Riley for the Heat, Dan Marino for the Dolphins, Rick Fox for the Lakers and countless others to negotiate deals to have them come to New Providence, the capital. All this, while West Grand Bahamians are broken;

• Lives are distraught;

• Relationships severed, from social withdrawal;

• Businesses failing from economic stagnation;

• Our community culture lost to the “I lookin’ out fa’ me” mentality;

• House damage Is superficial, many of us have lost our homes, the love and warmth we knew we could count on to greet us at the door left us;

• Greetings and social outings with friends turn to unqualified counseling sessions;

• Stubborn cultural pride holds our children back from school because of lack – “no uniforms, no money”;

• Social service lines are wrapped around the building;

• Baby’s nickel and dime savings robbed by a mother who had a “clear dream” last night and need to play this li’l number;

• Eclipse Beer rebranded; “pop down” dollar beer. The most affordable anti-depressant medicine.

Endless promises, conversations, connections, contracts and convincing went on all around us, yet the former member of Parliament and two-time Cabinet minister, with prime ministerial delusions of grandeur, was unable to convince the jobs that once lived here to return home.

As our community shifted in its deep sleep because of our aches and pains, we awoke in 2017 to the fact that a warm smile and familiar face deceived us.

Oblivion has consumed the former parliamentarian once again, dismissing the crushing defeat at the polls both he and his party suffered in May 2017; and currently he dares return, within less than two years of his separation, seeking yet another nomination from the same people who have yet to recover from the decade-and-a half-long treatment he visited upon them.

Unlike his party’s executive council, Wilchcombe ignores that internal mechanism that nudges an experienced man to prune, knowing his season has come to an end. Dying and diseased branches must be removed to help prevent the further spread of decay throughout the body of the organism. Pruning promotes healthy new growth. It provokes introspection by revisiting its core tenets, restructuring for aerodynamics and reviving core values that may have been left in the distance as a result of self-promotion.

As I measure Wilchcombe’s fruits, I conclude that he has never known the divine purpose of his appointment. He is now and has always been oblivious to that energy which continues to vibrate in the words penned by Timothy Gibson, words that speak of a common loftier goal. The opportunity to socially ascend to a national seat of power bears a significantly weighty responsibility; a responsibility that will forever reach far beyond party lines, into the hearts of a people who continue to “trod” this proverbial road to our divine purpose.

I am inclined to agree with the notion that Obie’s relentless commitment to the Progressive Liberal Party, his long-suffering and climb since his entrance into politics, his fearless nature to defend and deflect, his zealous pride for party and the arrogance of his convictions that boast he alone holds the “answer” to West Grand Bahama and Bimini’s woe’s, are the culprits that drive the former minister of tourism to the brink of political insanity if he thinks he is either wanted or needed by the constituency.

In short, sir, with the greatest degree of respect, you are not. You have served with a peculiar grace and commitment, all too familiar in our era’s representatives. While we cannot dispute your value and contribution to our political landscape nationally, the people of West Grand Bahama and Bimini had their fill. As the nation prepares for a changing of the guard ceremony, even your party, steeped in stiff-necked traditions, recognizes that there is a new wave approaching.

As a West Grand Bahamian with family ties in Bimini, I speak on behalf of my home, which I love dearly. Thank you for your commitment and availability, but we must graciously decline the offer. God’s speed. We know that you will enjoy much success in the private sector and we continue to pray your strength in the Lord.

– Howard R. Grant

The Bahamas postal s