Days after former Minister of Health Dr. Duane Sands raised concerns over the reported number of missing people in the wake of Hurricane Dorian, Minister of National Security Marvin Dames said yesterday that if the day comes where he disagrees with Cabinet, he is prepared to resign.
“Don’t come here and say what you could have done, or what should have been done,” Dames said during his contribution to the 2020/2021 budget.
“The question is, is when you had an opportunity to effect change, did you do it? And if you didn’t, why?”
Sands has come under fire in some circles for speaking out on the issue only after he resigned from Cabinet on May 4, following his decision to allow six permanent residents into the country and to quarantine at home when the country’s borders were closed.
Dames did not call Sands’ name or refer directly to the controversy around the list of missing persons.
During his budget contribution last week, Sands said thousands of names of people reported missing immediately after Dorian were removed from the official list after police took responsibility for that aspect of the storm’s aftermath, noting that no explanation was ever given for why the list was “pruned”.
On Sunday, Dames said he was “shocked and disappointed” by Sands’ comments.
Dames said yesterday, “Mr. Speaker, when I was chosen by the leader of this [party] to serve in the capacity of minister of national security, one of those members in his [Cabinet], I deemed it an honor. I also said to the leader that I am who I am.
“Any time I feel that the Cabinet is taking a course or a direction that goes completely against who I am, how I was brought up, you need not worry, I will tender my resignation and go in another direction.
“See, Mr. Speaker, I carry no one’s bag. The person you see out here today is the person you see in Cabinet or anywhere else. You see who I am. That’s how I was brought up and I will never change for anyone.
“My obligation as the minister of national security, member of Parliament for the great constituency of Mount Moriah, is to the people of this country, not to any one individual.
“Whenever I see wrong, whether it’s in Cabinet, outside of Cabinet, in the bathroom, outside, I’m going to express myself the only way I know how to.”
According to Dames, 279 people are listed as missing in the wake of Dorian. His figure differs from the one given by police last month, which was 33. Dames has said he cannot account for the change and cautioned Bahamians not to fixate on the numbers, which he said will fluctuate.
Dames’ comments yesterday came one day after he told reporters outside Cabinet that Dr. Sands is his friend and he was not looking to get into a public spat over the issue.
“[T]his is who I am. I hold no grudge against anyone, no indifference against anyone,” he said yesterday in the House of Assembly.
“I take my job very seriously.
“But at the end of the day, I have to account – account to the people who elected me to serve as their member of Parliament, account to the party who entrusted their confidence and account to my leader for having selected me to serve as a minister in his Cabinet.
“Mr. Speaker, any time I feel as an individual that I can no longer serve, I know exactly what I need to do.”