A country of laws, not of men

The prime minister addressed the nation on Sunday afternoon and announced a host of amendments to the emergency orders previously signed by him as the competent authority appointed under emergency regulations.

He said he was acting on the advice of health officials.

On Wednesday, the deputy chief medical officer, responding to a question from the media, revealed that he did not know why some COVID-19-free Family Islands will remain closed for commercial activity as announced by the prime minister while others were permitted to resume normal commercial activity.

He said the decision was a Cabinet Office or Office of the Prime Minister-level decision not at the level of the Ministry of Health.

Comments by three members of Parliament for islands not allowed to resume commercial activity reveal that they had not been consulted or made aware of the prime minister’s intentions.

This was reminiscent of treatment of the member of Parliament for Bimini, who, alarmed by the number of COVID-19 cases confirmed on the island, called for extensive testing and a lockdown of the island.

She learned of the decision to finally lock the island down for a two-week period with effect from this Monday, when it was announced by the prime minister a week ago today.

The prime minister’s amendments announced on Sunday were to enter into effect the following day, Monday, May 18. These included the addition of Cat Island, Long Island, Abaco and Andros to the list of Family Islands permitted to resume commercial activity.

He also announced that residents on any Family Island where normal commercial activity is permitted would also be permitted to catch crabs for either personal or commercial purposes during evening hours notwithstanding curfew and lockdown restrictions.

Still further, he announced that residents of islands cleared to resume commercial activity could travel between themselves by boat and plane.

Also, effective Monday, were amendments to business operating hours for construction companies on New Providence and Grand Bahama. They were to be permitted to add Saturdays, between 7 a.m. and 1 p.m., to their days of operation.

Additionally, manufacturers of hurricane-proof windows and other hurricane-related goods and home and hardware stores, already permitted to operate in-store shopping on Wednesdays and Fridays, were to be authorized to add Mondays to their roster between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. And, he announced extended hours of operations for pharmacies.

Another amendment announced by the prime minister to come into effect yesterday, May 20, included a registration exercise to facilitate and permit travel between New Providence and Grand Bahama and the named COVID-19-free islands.

At the time of this newspaper going to press, the signed emergency order giving legal effect to the prime minister’s promised amendments to the order had not been produced and released to the public.

In the prime minister’s world, one is permitted to exercise on Saturday and Sunday mornings of weekend lockdown but not in the evening.

Family Island fishermen, however, are banned from catching fish except on a boat accompanied by a maximum of one other individual from the same household and their catch may not be sold directly by them nor shipped to Nassau as usual via the mail boat.

In the prime minister’s world, native food stands at Arawak Cay, Potters’ Cay and the Montagu Foreshore must remain shuttered.

To top it all off, the prime minister refuses to hold press briefings at which he may be questioned. He shuttered the House of Assembly for 30 days and gave an exclusive interview to the government-owned television station ZNS last evening.

He made a feeble attempt at explaining why some islands remain closed to business.

It appears that the prime minister needs to know or to be reminded that ours is a country of laws, not men.

Sadly, he appears to have become giddy with power, deaf to advice contrary to his own beliefs and increasingly prone to making decisions devoid of logic.

For these matters and more – much, much more – Dr. Minnis has earned the ugly distinction of being one of the least accountable prime ministers in our history.

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