Bahamians removed the United Bahamian Party (UBP), led by the Bay Street Boys, from high office on Majority Rule Day, on January 10, 1967.
The two seats that ended the stalemate between the UBP and the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) on that historic election were held by Sir Randol Fawkes and Sir Alvin Braynen — the former being named a national hero in the 2020 National Honours last November by the Free National Movement (FNM) administration.
In my opinion, Fawkes is the greatest Bahamian politician of the 20th century. Had Fawkes given in to the many lucrative inducements dangled before him by the UBP immediately following the election in 1967, the Bay Street Boys would’ve remained in government, at least until 1972.
Life for ordinary Bahamians would’ve remained the same as it had been for decades leading up to 1967 with the White wealthy oligarchs in power. Moreover, the course of events for Bahamians with Sir Lynden Pindling and the PLP and the FNM would’ve been forever altered. Or would it?
Based on what has transpired over the past 54 years of Majority Rule, while acknowledging some meaningful accomplishments in education and the expansion of the Black middle class, life for ordinary Black Bahamians hasn’t improved that much. How so? you might ask. Because ordinary Bahamians are still saddled with the Bay Street Boys in government, albeit the Black version.
The Black Bay Street Boys replaced the White Bay Street Boys on Majority Rule Day. As the White Bay Street Boys are alleged to have used the organs of government to improve their lot in life, the Black Bay Street Boys have done the same. The only meaningful difference between the White Bay Street Boys and the Black Bay Street Boys is skin color.
This grassroots perception has been reinforced by revelations leaking out into the press regarding Bahamas Petroleum Company (BPC) and the deal that was allegedly facilitated by Black politicians who are attorneys. This oil deal has Sir Stafford Sands written all over it.
While BPC and its Chief Executive Officer Simon Potter stand to pocket hundreds of billions, The Bahamas will only get a paltry $5 billion in the first decade, which is nearly equal to the national debt of nearly $9 billion. The Bahamas could possibly be sitting on trillions of dollars in oil and natural gas reserves, while over 70 percent of the working population don’t even have $1,000 on their bank accounts.
A sovereign wealth fund blueprint, similar to the one oil rich Norway has, could’ve been drawn up by the Black Bay Street Boys and BPC principals. Norway currently has $1.1 trillion in its sovereign wealth fund. With a population of nearly 5.5 million, each Norwegian is worth $200,000, based on the $1.1 trillion the Norwegian government has in a fixed account and in investments.
Norwegians get free catastrophic health insurance, free university education, in addition to many other jaw dropping benefits.
With possibly trillions of dollars in oil reserves, the nearly 400,000 Bahamians can get far more benefits than the Norwegian people. A free university education, free catastrophic health insurance, a plot of land, and a monthly stipend of $1,500 should be a few of the benefits of a sovereign wealth fund created by a lucrative oil industry.
The entire nation should see meaningful, life changing benefits of an oil industry, not just the Black Bay Street Boys and their families, friends and lovers. But I have a gut feeling that the Black Bay Street Boys and BPC aren’t the least bit interested in empowering ordinary Bahamians.
It is here where I must respectfully part ways with Bahamian Evolution regarding St. Anne’s MP Brent Symonette. Son of the White Bay Street Boys principal Sir Roland Symonette, Brent Symonette has positively impacted the lives of thousands of Black Bahamians through his many business ventures throughout The Bahamas.
Indeed, Symonette has done far more for Black Bahamians than over 95 percent of the Black Bay Street Boys. Consequently, digging up the past sins of the White Bay Street Boys is a distraction from the gross failure of the Black Bay Street Boys.
We are unwilling to forgive Sir Stafford and Sir Roland but the Black Bay Street Boys can facilitate a BPC deal that is disadvantageous to ordinary Bahamians and still enjoy widespread support among the Black Bahamian masses. You cannot make this up.
The White Bay Street Boys would’ve probably worked out a similar deal with BPC, with their principals buying substantial amounts of shares in the oil investment company.
Bahamians who are struggling to pay their rent and mortgages are witnessing a rat race for oil wealth, with a few Black Bay Street politicians in a fierce competition to see who can become the first Bahamian billionaire.
Had Sir Randol sat at the negotiating table with BPC principals, he would’ve fought hard for a much better deal for the Bahamian people.
— Kevin Evans