Elephants in the room 

Dear Editor,

It is remarkable that former Prime Minister Dr. Hubert A. Minnis, who never seemed to find the time to speak with the media while in office, is now finding the time to do so.

Minnis is really now irrelevant in Bahamian politics and is yesterday’s man. He may not have come to the brutal conclusion that few Bahamians, if any, now listen to him. He’s akin to the fabled Emperor who was told repeatedly that he had no clothes on. The massive rejection of his political leadership must have stung him worse than a scorpion.

If I were the new and refreshing prime minister in the form of the enlightened and focused Hon. Philip Brave Davis, QC, I would not pay any attention to the rants and ravings of a badly mauled ex prime minister.

The Free National Movement (FNM) is planning a national convention in November, the first in years. According to chairman of that party, Carl Culmer, Minnis indicated that he will not seek a nomination as party leader although he’s now appearing to walk back on that assertion.

The real issues and elephants in the room, figuratively and literally are: the lingering effects, economic and health wise, of the pandemic; the troubling rise in inflation; liberalization of Crown land and commonage property and the reconstruction and rebuilding of Abaco and Grand Bahama.

We as a people should waste precious little time listening to Minnis, who appears to have a messianic dual personality. Let us deal with the real and salient problems. He’s had his opportunity at the wicket and, in my view, failed us big time, across the board.

PM Davis has wisely appointed the Hon. Michael Darville minister of health and wellness. This is Darville’s second time in cabinet. He has the experience and the talent to get a firm and realistic grip on the pandemic.

It will take much more work and some innovative strategies but I am persuaded that he is the right man at the right time to marshal and implement, with the approval of cabinet, sensible and workable solutions. It must be borne in mind that there is no magic wand that he nor anyone else is able to wave and simply erase COVID-19 overnight.

Bahamians like the rest of the world are going to have to learn to actually live with the virus while managing it the best we are able. After a year and a half of disjointed and erratic reactions, economic and health wise, by the Minnis regime, the economy was decimated and thousands of ordinary Bahamians were involuntarily relegated to the breadlines.

Audited statements are needed for the food program and also for Hurricane Dorian rebuilding and relief efforts in Abaco and Grand Bahama.

The efforts of the Davis administration to build back better relative to The Bahamas, apart from the handling of the pandemic, will be crucial in turning our economy around.

There must be serious stimulation. For instance, a good friend of mine based in Grand Bahama, Lewis Astwood, proposed a national apprenticeship program to the then-Christie led PLP but nothing much came out of that.

Under that scheme, employers who participate would take on one or more young Bahamians, maybe just out of high school, a college or a university for a year or two so as to transfer marketable skills and enhance their abilities to either go into business for themselves or spin off into new developments and industries. The employer would receive a stipend from the central administration so as to actually pay the apprentices to learn. This would be a win-win situation for all, especially our younger people and national productivity.

Land is the basis of wealth. Too many past governments have either ignored applications for Crown land or placed them in limbo whereby they receive an endless amount of letters of acknowledgement and inordinate requests for the production of a surveyed plan, at their expense. Even then, years later, they are still obliged to wait for the actual grant.

This was the way it was from Sir Lynden’s time to right now. Brave will have to address this issue as well as a land problem called commonage, especially in Cat Island and Exuma. He spoke about it in the House of Assembly some years ago. His pleas and remarks fell on deaf ears. He now has the power to actually bring concrete relief to the masses.

Abaco and Grand Bahama should have been well on the way to recovery and rebuilding. Nothing much has been done and the beat goes on.

Grand Bahama has great potential and I hope the minister of state for Grand Bahama hits the proverbial ground running. There is no more time to waste.

The Grand Lucayan hotel in Freeport must be divested, if only to a group of deep-pocketed and experienced Bahamians. That property is bleeding taxpayers’ monies even as you read this. Whatever happened to Oban over in east Grand Bahama? How come Minnis does not make reference to this or the Ginn project over in West End?

Yes, it is a phenomenon of national proportions that Minnis is able to find his tongue at this stage but could not speak coherently, if at all, in four years!

Who will be selected to succeed him? May I suggest that he will be re-elected as leader?

Dr. Duane Sands, despite his great talent as a medical doctor, does not have the gravitas or personality.

Marco City MP Michael Pintard was too closely connected to Louis Bacon and his alleged surrogates, Toggie and Bobo.

Central Grand Bahama Iram Lewis “just reach” and will not be accepted by any large numbers.

St. Barnabas MP Shannedon Cartwright is now coming across as light weight.

I predict that the FNM will be in opposition for at least 10 years while Brave serves as prime minister and digs us out of the massive hole dug by Minnis and crew.

The elephants in the room are uncaged and running loose but Brave, I am sure, will re-cage them in short order.

 — Ortland H. Bodie, Jr.

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